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La Candelaria: Exploring The Beauty Of Colombia

WHERE TO STAY – Two blocks from the Botero Museum sits Hotel Casa Deco, a modern inn that stands out with its color-themed rooms, deco style, and—for lovers of live music-proximity to Casa de Citas Cafe Arte; from $101. In the middle of La Candelaria but on a quiet street you’ll find Italian-owned Abadia Colonial, cast from a traditional Colombian residence. Rooms, simply furnished in period style, look out on a courtyard. Also notable: a glass-roofed dining area. From $68. Closer to the Plaza de Bolivar you’ll come upon the luxe Hotel de la Opera, in a grand, colonial-era stone edifice with its own thermal spa; from $209. Those staying outside La Candelaria should try the homey Hotel Casona del Patio, in Chapinero, a quarter known for its bars; from $67.

WHERE TO EAT – Stylish dining and expansive views make Restaurante Casa San Isidro, on Monserrate and reachable by cable car, a fine bet for an introductory meal in Bogota; the menu, on the pricey side, runs from French classics (bouillabaisse, duck ten-ine) to Colombian favorites. The folksy, popular Casa de Citas Cafe Arte draws big weekend crowds with live music, salsa dancing, and Peruvian dishes; try the seviche with hot aji pepper sauce.

Colombia produces more emeralds than any other country.
Colombia produces more emeralds than any other country.

Looking for a romantic hideaway? Head to El Gato Gris, just off Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo, and order empanaditas paired with absinthe, which, the menu says, will help you “see things as you wished they were.” Playful and intimate El Patio earns kudos for its candlelit ambience and Italian fare. You will taste country cooking the way it was prepared in Bolivar’s day at La Puerta Falsa, founded in 1816. If it’s full, check out two like-minded eateries nearby: the Antigua Santa Fe and La Puerta de la Tradieion, where you can sample Bogotano favorites such as ajiaco, a chicken-based stew.

WHAT TO KNOW – Temperate weather reigns in Bogota; the driest conditions occur from December into March. Many newcomers feel the effects of Bogota’s altitude (8,660 feet); common symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, and mild dizziness. Acclimation usually occurs within a few days; limiting alcohol consumption aids the transition.

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