Featured image I took from the top of El Peñón de Guatapé.
- DENTIST: My dentist, Juan Carlos, was great and I will go back.
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- SAFETY: City seemed safe and I rarely felt concerned though I didn’t spend any time outside past midnight and was very conscious of not doing anything stupid or ever leaving my drink unattended. One of Michael’s hotel neighbor’s was drugged and robbed by two ladies he brought to his apartment. The next morning Michael helped him remember how to tie his shoes, turn on a computer and eventually he secured more money for another attempt at his dream.
- CELL PHONES: I read a number of articles on cell phone safety which warned that thieves will snatch your new iPhone from you in public, through the window of your cab or simply just mug you. One solution they mentioned was to bring an older phone to hand over in a mugging. This didn’t seem very practical to me and I heard stories of how muggers caught on to this trick and would get angry if you handed them an old phone. My iPhone is a 6s and though I brought a 5s for this scenario I never bothered carrying it. Better if someone would just steal my 6s. I limited my use in bad areas, always checked around me before I did and didn’t use it in a crowd.
- MONEY: I should have brought a little more cash. On previous trips to other countries I brought too much cash and ended up just using ATM’s the whole time. However, in Colombia few ATM’s hand out much cash and many have high fees. After trying a few banks I settled on Bank of Bogota as my go to ATM which would give out COP 1,500,000 (around $490) for reasonable fees. There could be a better ATM but I did not need or want to withdraw more cash than that at one time.
- HOW MUCH MONEY?: Prices are written many different ways. And “mil” is not million it is thousand. Examples I saw…
49mil = $49mil = $49.000 = COP 49.000 = COP 49,000 =~ $14USD
- HOTELS: Do your research and read reviews. Go with a real Hotel, unlike my selection of Soul Lifestyle Hotel, or go full AirBnB. This time I spent over $100 per night the whole time. Next time it will be half that. $100 should get you a great hotel. $50 should get you a great AirBnB.
- LOCATION: Next time I will stay at areas outside of the center of Parque Lleras, possibly Laureles Park, to reduce street vendor interactions.
- STREET VENDORS: By the end of the trip I was exhausted by their constant and never ending sales pitches. One tour guide told me to start with ‘Gracias’ and if they ask again say ‘No Gracias’ and just keep walking. That is what I did. Now sitting at home and reflecting on the trip one strategy might be to just walk around with a bunch of COP 1,000 coins and hand them out. I might try that next time.
- RESTAURANTS: You can order a world class entree for around $15 (COP 50,000). I didn’t see the need to pay more than this. You can order an average meal, like a medium pizza from Dominos, for around $9 (COP 30,000) and there are cheaper lunch places for $3 (COP 10,000) which will be outside of the tourist areas. Do research on both the restaurant and the meal. I was happy with what I did by finding two really excellent restaurants for dinner, Carmens and Ocio, and eating there every night.
- SPANISH: The more Spanish you know the more fun your trip will be. No doubt about it. I muddled through and learned a lot but it could have been better.