Bogota, Columbia Cleans Up Its Act

We head to Bogotá, Colombia, a city long known for drugs, violence and dangerous women. But, what was the kidnapping capital of the world in 2001 is a much safer, more tourist-friendly place these days. Luckily, the women are as dangerous as ever.

Eat: Forego the white linen and head for the city’s most authentic eats, around Plaza de Bolívar in the old city. Chow down on chicken empanadas, arepas (fried corn cakes) and almojábanas (deep fried cheese buns) as buskers vie for your pesos.

Shop: Out of his unassuming shop, Miguel Caballero, the self-described “Armani of bullet-proof clothing,” creates the duds worn by assassination targets like Hugo Chavez, and, it’s rumoured, Obama on Inauguration day. Grab yourself a slim-fitting dress shirt, made with synthetic thread strong enough to stop a 9 mm slug.

Drink: Suck back the fiery national hooch, aguardiente – basically unrefined rum – at the eclectic Andres Carne de Res, in the suburb of Chia. When the sun goes down at this one-of-a-kind roadhouse, Bogotá-style mayhem – the best kind of mayhem – ensues.

Dance: Squeeze into Salomé Pagana, a trendy salsoteca located in the Zona Rosa, and salsa to a live band. Between sets, groove as club owner César Pagano spins tracks from his massive collection of son cubano music.

Wander: La Candelaria, Bogotá’s oldest neighbourhood, was once plagued by thieves and thugs. Now home to colourful colonial homes and the Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez, it’s the city’s best neighbourhood for aimless wandering.

Lonny Knapp

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