Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top of the Mountain!

Mount Monserrate from Central Bogota 
Written by Karen.
We visited Mount Monserrate today, located some 10,341 feet above sea level with grand, sweeping, panoramic views of the city of Bogota below. It was about an hour walk from our apartment to where you can take the aerial cable car to the top of the mountain.  The walk there is mostly all uphill, and the last mile is probably a sustained 8% grade.  Needless to say, we were sucking air by the time we got to the ticket counter!  

The weather was simply perfect - the brief rain showers from the evening before had knocked down some of the haze and pollution - and the very dramatic clouds present were changing rapidly.  There was a spring-like breeze and the sun was very warm on your skin when it peeked out from behind the clouds.  We had been advised that it was cold up at the top of the mountain and packed warmer clothing to compensate.  But, as it turned out, the weather was beautiful up at the top as well, and the expansive views were simply amazing. The warmer clothing thus stayed in our bag.

Dramatic Clouds
There are three ways to get to the top of Mount Monserrate: (1) walk; (2) aerial cable car; and (3) funicular.  The funicular was being worked on at the time and was thus out of service for the entire day. We knew that hiking up the steep and winding path was not a good option for us given our afternoon arrival.  That left the aerial cable car as our best option.  Tickets were 7,700 COP (or roughly $4.28 USD) each person, each way.  If you go to Mount Monserrate on Sunday, the prices are lower.  The church built on the top of the mountain in 1657 is a working church and Sunday services and concerts are regularly offered. 

Church on top Mount Monserrate all ready for Christmas with Nativity Scene
Entrance into the Church
Inside the Church
Trumpet Flower at the Summit of Mount Monserrate
The views speak for themselves.  (Panoramic Views of Bogota) Mount Monserrate is a beautiful, calm and peaceful place, and well worth the effort to make it to the top.  In addition to the church, there are well manicured gardens, a waterfall, and colonial style buildings to explore.  

View of Bogota - perhaps 1/3 of the City
View of Santa Clara Restaurant
What we were most surprised by was the absolutely wonderful lunch that we had at the top of the mountain.  We expected low performance because - let's face it - there's not much competition up there.  It turns out there are a few restaurants to choose from, and we randomly chose the Santa Clara restaurant.  Great service.  Great food.  Great live music. Great views.  We decided that since we had really not celebrated our wedding anniversary properly a few days earlier that this would be the perfect opportunity to splurge a bit.  Everything, including tax and a generous tip came to the approximate equivalent of $55.00 USD.  

Empanadas, Sangria and Beer
Karen's - Yummm!

Adam's: Chicken Medallions with Passionfruit and Coconut Rice
Cheese and Fruit 
Here is a short video that I took of the two gentlemen playing music during our lunch. (Traditional Music)

Adam shot this video from an open window while on the way down using the aerial cable car - from the top of Mount Monserrate all the way back down to the street level. It really felt like you were flying.  It was pretty gusty as you’ll hear on the video.  The descent takes only about three to four minutes. (Riding the Cable Car down Mount Monserrate)

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