Where are we?

Zipaquira and Bogotà

Today we went to Zipaquira which is just north of Bogota. There is where the Salt Cathedral is located inside the old salt mines almost 600' underground.

When I first read about this place I really wasnt thinking about HOW far underground it was! And mines are just caves and I don't do well in caves!! But this was totally different once we got inside.  It is a HUGE place! First we walk thru 14 different areas that have crosses depicting the different stages of Jesus carrying the cross. Again its interpretation of the cross.  The miners have always had a chapel underground so they could pray before going to work.  Salt has been mined underground out of this area since the early 1800's.  When the mining is finished it left huge areas open and that is where the church was built. In 3 of the "branches" that the mining was finished, became different naves of the church. The ceiling of this "branches" are at least 100' high. Its truly amazing to see!  I took pictures but they aren't very good because it is so dark.  And because of the high ceilings I didn't feel anxious being underground!

The cathedral is a functioning church and has about 3000 visitors on Sundays. The pictures are not great because my iphone is to old I guess.

Coming into the entrance of the tunnels towards the cathedral
One of the crosses craved from into the rock




Salt corroding the metal

One of the small chapels at the bottom

At 600' underground is where the cathedral is located along with stores, eateries 

Ceiling of the Cathedral


The main cathedral
All the statues are made of marble because the Halite rock that holds salt can't be carved into intricate designs

Nativity scene 

Rock salt



After that tour it was noon so we headed to the be city of Bogotà. 8 million people live here!  We know that the traffic is going to be insane, but we have to go see a few things such as the Gold Museum. We've been told by a few people we have to go there :)  There is also a funicular and gondola that goes up to a church over looking all of Bogotà.

If we ever get stuck and can't find a place to spend the night we can always drive into one these places :)  They are set up for "secret meetings" of couples. So each room has a place to park the vehicle which is closed off so no one knows you are there! Oh course we would sleep in the van!!!!!




Whenever there is backup of traffic it's always a good reason to sell your "stuff"



Bus stop for the fast TransMelenio - which has its own lanes


Closeup of the platform

The buses even have their own overpasses


As we are driving thru Bogotà all of a sudden the buses are lineup and stopped. People started just to get off. Not sure why they were backed up

This guy was funny! Said they were an aphrodisiac!!!!

Santuary of Monserrate

We drive around awhile looking for a place to park for the night in a 24hr parquedero. But getting a little frustrated because so many one way roads here due to the fact they are so narrow. I end up going down one road as shown on maps.me and it ends up in a dead end!! So much for that route! We head back and the only way we can get where we want is to go the wrong way on a one way (not very busy btw). A couple of locals see us going around and they point us to go up the wrong way and say it's OK.  So we do! And no problems since we only had to go 2 blocks. We then slowed edge our way across the busy main road to continue our drive to where I hope we can park.

We get there but nope no overnight parking :(  So we continue and go back to the central area of Bogotà where there is lots of secured parking but most have low entrance that we cant get thru. We finally decide to just park on the street and wait for traffic to slow down - its now 4:30.  It will make it easier. We get out and decide to walk around the area and find a pedway that goes through the downtown area. There is lots of construction going on because they are ripping out the old blocks and replacing with new, so the place is a mess!! Lots of areas with just dirt to walk across and some blocks and then areas are blocked off because they are replacing waterpipes etc under the pedway. Anyways, no problem just walk around and look. Stop and buy a coffee from one of the many coffee girls walking around with their coffeewagons! By 5:30 we head back to the van.

EVERYBODY has something to sell along the pedway!




Construction along the pedway


As it turns out there is a parquedero right close to where we are parked. So we go over there and explain what we need.  No we cant stay overnight because they close and have dogs wondering around the parquedero.  But she goes and checks another place for us but comes back and says they dont have room. She told us to go 3 blocks and check out a 24hr one.  She was very helpful! So we drive away, its now 6pm and traffic is still pretty busy, and check out another place. We stopped at the place we thought we were suppose to try but she doesn't stay open 24 hrs. But she calls her boss because he has another lot close by. At this point we are using Google translate because I cant figure out what she is saying! As it turns out we can go park at the other place (2 blocks away) she says the guy from that lot will come over and show us the way. Wow so nice! When he gets there we back out of the parking lot and he tells us we need to go around the block since the parquedero is on the one way. So we drive around and he has the gate open for us and we drive in.

Once inside the boss was there - Fidel. We explain what we would like to do - spend a few days in Bogotà and leave our van here during the day and sleep in it at night. Sure no problems. Alexis stays in the lot 24/7.  He charges us only 10,000CP for 12 hrs! Great. So both he and Alexis want to check out our van. Told him we are totally self-contained. They both thought it was a pretty cool setup!

We finally get to make supper - its now 7:30!  Seems so much later because its been dark since 6! Anyways, after supper read awhile and then I go online to check what we should see in Bogotà for the next couple of days.  I find a food tour for only $22C each that lasts for 3 hrs! This is the cheapest I've seen a food tour so I sign us up!  In the morning we'll first head to the Museo de Oro. Then walk around the old neighbourhoods in that area, plus Plaza Bolivar where all the government buildings are. Then the afternoon will be spent eating!! LOL!!!

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