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First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

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Honolulu, Hawaii
posts: 32
reviews: 5
First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

I'll be arriving in Bogota, solo, at the end of January. Minimal Spanish language now, but I intend to study my Rosetta Stone program for the next 3 months. I plan on staying for perhaps a week before moving on to visit Cartagena or Medellin. I will plow through the Bogota forum to find hotel recommendations (60-100 USD/night or so, quiet, clean, hopefully with a better than average fitness center/pool), but would gladly welcome any replies to this posting. I'd be open to a vacation rental as well. Which neighborhood might suit me best? I'll be walking alot, sightseeing mostly, people watching, shopping is not at all important to me, and will likely be out evenings for drinks and dinner. Last question for now...are there yoga studios in Bogota?

Las Vegas, Nevada
posts: 875
reviews: 75
1. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

I spent four days in Bogota with minimal -- very minimal -- Spanish language skills. Four years of high school Spanish in the all-too-distant past. There is not a whole lot of English fluency in the hotels and restaurants in Bogota, but ....

(1) The people in Colombia, especially Bogota, have a reputation for speaking the clearest, easiest to understand Spanish out there (including Spain). The reputation is well-deserved. Colombianos speak the TV anchorman version of Spanish. My level of Spanish comprehension was probably triple what it has been compared to listening to Mexican or other South American Spanish speakers.

(2) While English fluency seems to be rare in Bogota, a "good not great" level of English language proficiency is quite common. And the people are extraordinarily friendly and very motivated to improve their English skills. Language will not be a problem, especially if you have basic Spanish language comprehension skills.

Regarding hotels, your budget seems a bit low for a decent hotel in Bogota. Generally Bogota is a bargain. Restaurant food is a great deal. Cabs are cheap and plentiful. But you will probably need to pay $110 to $130 per night for a decent hotel in a good neighborhood. I can't answer your question about which neighborhood best suits you. I don't know enough about you! I heard avoid the La Candelaria and Centro hotels because the streets aren't safe after dark (although perfectly safe during daylight hours). So you probably want to go north of downtown. Do not look south. There are a lot of hotels, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, etc. in the streets numbered in the 90s and low 100s (Calle 92 and above). But, at night, you will taking cabs to go where you want to go. But, as I said, cabs are cheap plentiful.

I did not make it to Cartagena on my trip. I did go to Medellin. I'm a broken record on this point, but I thought Medellin was skip-able. I definitely want to go to Cartagena someday.

As for yoga. Sorry. Can't help you there.

Edited: 7:55 pm, October 17, 2012
Buffalo, New York
posts: 130
reviews: 62
2. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

I have learned way more Spanish with Coffee Break Spanish free podcasts on my Ipod that with Rosetta Stone. Scour the forums and Expedia for hotels that suit you. I would avoid La Candelaria at night. I agree with the above reviewer to stay in the 90's and 100's. Have fun.

London, United...
posts: 30
reviews: 13
3. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

Rosetta stone is dreadful. You're better to learn once you arrive. www.studyspanishbogota.com is a free guide to all the language schools in Bogota maybe you can find something good on there, there is also a Medellin school guide.

Oakland, California
posts: 723
reviews: 62
4. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

The more adventurous enjoy La Candelaria. I find the 90s (i.e., Parque 93) rather bland. Prefer Zona G as a nice compromise. The sort of hotel that is likely to have a pool and/or fitness center is likely to fall outside your price range. Bogota lodging, especially in the northern part of the city, is not cheap. An apartment may work better for you in that price range. Yes there is yoga in Bogota, but it will almost certainly be taught in Spanish. People will be friendly and welcoming.

Honolulu, Hawaii
posts: 32
reviews: 5
5. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

First off, my gratitude to those members who took the time to reply to my original posting. I'm a little clearer now on my pending vacation, with the following changes. My hotel budget is greater, partly due to the above advice and largely due to my brother-in-law using some of his 1,000,000+ UAL miles to pick up my entire RT from Honolulu. What a great guy! I now see the need to be in the $100-130 USD/per night range for a decent hotel or vacation rental and will shop accordingly. I've also made contact with Mark from The Colombian Way. He has been extremely generous with valuable advice for my month in Colombia, which will include time in Medellin (sorry Retro but I gotta hit it), Cartagena (Mark says 3-4 days there is good), and very possibly a more rural destination. Re: Rosetta Stone, I picked up Levels 1-5 on Craigslist for $50 so I figured why not? Now looking like first and last week in Bogota, with two weeks of travel in between. Thanks again all...I have lots of reading to do. Please feel free to keep up with the replies...

Buffalo, New York
posts: 130
reviews: 62
6. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

Don't waste your time with Rosetta Stone no matter how cheap you got it. I learned 90% of my Spanish with Coffee Break Spanish and its FREE. At least give it a listen before you waste many hours with Rosetta Stone. I have both and have used both and Rosetta Stone is tedious and you have to sit in front of your computer to use it. With Coffee Break Spanish I put it on my Ipod and walk and learn. There is a paid version of Coffee Break Spanish but its not necessary.

Oakland, California
posts: 723
reviews: 62
7. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

Can you dance salsa? For a single guy visiting Colombia, that is a great skill to have. All the girls want to go dancing at night. If you don't, even a few lessons would be helpful.

Honolulu, Hawaii
posts: 32
reviews: 5
8. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

The salsa tip was an excellent idea; thank you. Lessons are definitely advisable,as I'm not much of a dancer when sober. As for Coffee Break, I can download that onto one of my iPods and practice while I work. I'll get on that this weekend...muchas gracias.

milan
posts: 124
reviews: 26
9. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

Hi, I don't know where u might stay with your budget, I would avoid candelaria and city centre, and I would stay in the north part of chapinero where u maaight find "happyu yoga" which i heard is very good....good luck

Bogota, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Colombia
posts: 2,568
reviews: 7
10. Re: First time visitor to Bogota; arriving end of January

You could also try http://www.bikramyogacolombia.com/ I may also add it's in Chapialto, a good area to fulfill most of your needs…