Travel, Food & Books

One Night in San Francisco

San Francisco is another place you can go for quick and temporary relief from the cold weather in Bogota. Located about 55km away from Bogota with an elevation of 1,520 metres and an average temperature of 20°C. Though it’s not as warm as its neighbouring town La Vega, it’s still an excellent place to be.

Bogota to San Francisco by Bus

Our journey started from our home in Chapinero Alto. We called a taxi via an app called Tappsi, and the driver who picked us up was super chatty. He showed us his impressive collection of money from around the world courtesy to his passengers who left it to him as a souvenir. I would have given my Malaysian and Korean coin if only I had brought it with me. The taxi ride to Terminal Salitre cost 17,000COP.

Earlier on before getting on a taxi, we checked on the bus schedule and planned on getting the 11:15 am tickets. When we arrived at the terminal at 10:45 am, we went straight to terminal 2 to a counter called Flota Santa Fe. The ticketing officer told us that the earliest bus we could get was at 12:30 pm! We’re baffled and had no choice but to get on with it. The bus fare was 11,000COP per person.

While waiting for it, we wandered around, looking at all the counter and its destination. There’s also a bus to Peru departing from here. We also took note that the clinic for a Yellow fever vaccine was at terminal 4, and we thought of getting it tomorrow if it’s not crowded. Besides plenty of eatery places, there were also casinos in the terminal.

We had an early lunch at Brasa Azul; it’s just on the opposite side of the counter where we bought our tickets. I ordered a Mojarra Frita, and Mike had Pollo Asado. The cost including a bottle of Pepsi was 32,000 COP, the standard price in a typical restaurant without the set lunch promotion in Bogota.

Flota Santa Fe bus to San Francisco

Our bus arrived on time but departed 12 minutes later than the scheduled time. Along the road, the bus attendant stood at the door calling out the place’s name to get more passengers on board. Blessed him, more passengers were getting on along Calle 80, but they left after riding for only a short distance.

The road reminded me of Thailand where in the middle of a busy street, some vendors offer to clean your windshield, selling flowers, water, food, cigarettes etc.

Hotel Villa Paz

When we arrived at the town, while everyone got off at the town centre, the bus driver was very kind to us; he asked where we were staying and then dropped us right in front of Hotel Villa Paz.

Five minutes after we arrived at the reception, our room was ready to be occupied. It wasn’t far from the main entrance, just 20 metres away. The worker led us to it, and it seemed like the housekeeping just finished cleaning it, as the floor was still wet, and they returned 5 minutes later to give us bath towels.

I wasn’t sure if it was the hotel’s policy or if they’d forgotten because there was only a block of bar soap in the bathroom and no shampoos.

When I first got inside the room and noticed that there was no ceiling fan or portable fan provided, I was a bit worried that we would have to endure another sleepless night like in our Glamping experience. But it turned out to be alright.

Although it was a bit warm in the afternoon, during nighttime, it was bearable. The only problem was that we were woken up quite early by the sunlight streaming in from the door’s glass panel. It would be nice if they installed a curtain.

The swimming pool was open when we first arrived but closed for renovation the next day. It was disappointing considering the reason for our getaway here was to use the facilities. Overall, paying 110,000 COP for a night stay in this hotel without getting any breakfast, no chance of dipping in the pool, no fan in the room, incomplete toiletries and a bright room in the early morning, it just wasn’t worth the money.

Hotel Villa Paz Swimming Pool

San Francisco Town

From the hotel to the town square, it was about 7 minutes walk. It was smaller than its neighbouring town, with a population of less than 9,000 people.

Like in any town in Colombia, when there is a church, there will be a square nearby. I’m not sure when they built this church, I couldn’t find any information about it. And just like any church I’ve seen in Colombia, the interior and exterior were beautiful.

San Francisco Cundinamarca Church

Beers Prices

The cheapest Club Colombia beer bottle we could get here was 2,500 COP. Some tienda was selling it for 3,000 COP. A shot of Nectar Aguadiente was 2,000 COP.

I tried other beers such as Poker and Redd’s but quickly fell in love with Redd’s. It was sweet and reminded me of Somersby. We hopped on to a few tienda, and in one of the shops, we had an old man sat with us. He was drunk and kept trying to have a conversation with me, completely ignoring Mike who sat next to him.

When the waiter gave us back the change of 1,000 COP on the table, I pushed the coin to Mike, but the drunk man took it, put it in his pocket, and left shortly after that. I was like, WTF???

Restaurante Campestre Mi Pequeña Alemania

We had dinner in this lovely German restaurant called Restaurante Campestre Mi Pequeña Alemania. The owner was friendly; he chatted with all his customers.

While having our meal, we enjoyed watching the eagle soaring in the sky, listening to the sound of the river flowing, crickets and birds chirping, and occasionally some goat bleating and a dog barking. It was soothing, almost felt like I was back in my hometown.

There was live music in the evening, but we didn’t wait for it, and by the time we were about to leave, I saw the owner entertaining the diners with his Accordion.

Some of the food and drink prices in Restaurante Campestre Mi Pequeña Alemania

40,000COP - Menu Del Cheff (Cada fin de semana ofrecemos un exclusivo menu diferente con entrada, plato fuerte y postre)
28,000COP - Plato Aleman (Salchicha y hamburguesa de res acompanadas con la original ensalada de papa)
27,000COP - Goulash de Carne de Res (Acompanado con pasta artesanal)
29,000COP - Schwarzwaelder Schweinebraten (Carne de cerdo cocida en su salsa acompanada con pasta artesanal)
20,000COP - Menu Infantil
29,000COP - Koeniginpastete - Pastel de Reina (Con carne de res o ternera o pollo)
6,500COP - Crema Del Chef
10,000COP - Kaffee Und Kuchen (Disfrute de nuestro excelente cafe gourmet 100% organico con crema de chantilly y acompanado con deliciosa torta del dia)
4,500COP - Tinto Gourmet Organico (Con crema chantilly)
5,500COP - Club Colombia
8,000COP - Torta Del Dia
6,500COP - Jugos Naturales en Agua
7,500COP - Jugos Naturales en Leche
4,000COP - Gaseosa / Botella de Agua
4,500COP - Limonada / Te Frio
8,000COP / 12,000COP - Alemana Importada
60,000COP ~ 80,000COP - Vino Tinto O Blanco
60,000COP - Botella Vino Espumoso Champagne
150,000COP - Botella Jaegermeister
110,000COP - Botella Ron Bacardi
80,000COP - Botella Aguardiente Nectar
220,000COP (Copa: 20,000COP) - Botella Whisky
150,000COP (Copa: 15,000COP) - Botella Vodka Absolut

We got back to the hotel quite early at 7:54 pm, but the gate was already closed – Safety purposes? We rang the bell at the door, and the worker opened it. At night, it was quiet, with only cricket and frog croaking entertaining our ears. I went out to sit on the wooden chair next to our room and enjoyed the night view. Plenty of stars in the sky, and no mosquitoes ruining my solitary evening.

Alto de la Virgen

The next morning, we went up to Alto de la Virgen. We started our hike at 9 am, and the sun was pleasant, not too hot. Before starting our journey, we looked at the Google map and noticed that the road didn’t reach the church, so we didn’t know what to expect.

I was thinking if we had to go through some bushes or jungle to get there, we wouldn’t be continuing the journey. But it turned out to be alright as most of the road was proper, including the path to the church.

The walk was quiet and peaceful, there were plenty of condors soaring in the sky, and only occasionally we walked past some locals doing their chores. When we got to the top, we were the only ones there. There was a dog who sat there guarding the place, but it ignored us. The view overlooking the valley and the town was fantastic.

San Francisco to Bogota

Although the bus driver told us that we could wait for the bus in the hotel, we didn’t want to chance it. We went to the bus company and bought the tickets. It wasn’t long before the bus came, and we sat on the bus on our way to the cold climate in Bogota.

Flota Santa Fe San Francisco Ticket Office

The ride back took about one hour and fifty-seven minutes, the same duration as when we got here. We didn’t get our Yellow fever vaccine on that day as there were many people in the clinic. We’ll have to arrange another day to get it.

Travel Date: 09th ~ 10th September 2018

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