A successful and tiresome business trip to Colombia.

Since I’m staying in Fort Erie (Ontario, Canada) for a few days, when I had to fly to Bogota for a business trip, the first step was to cross the border by car and drive to Buffalo Airport. From there a quick flight to Newark, and a very quick connection (and easy thanks to the A-C terminal shuttle bus, which does not work the other way around) to the flight to Bogota.

The hotel I stayed in (Radisson Metrotel) was not special in any way (except for the guanabana juice they invited me to at their 180º lounge), as a matter of fact, it had the saddest breakfast buffet of all the breakfast buffets I’ve had in Bogota so far. Where are the delicious freshly squeezed fruit juices? Why only “recalentado” as local food option? There was a time when I would have been happy to have scrambled eggs and cereal, but not any more. Actually, come to think about it, was there ever such a time?

At least business went very well, so in that sense it was a roaring success. But I had to work long hours,and also spend long hours in Bogota’s famous traffic jams. Hopefully one day they will finish the subway they started planning in the 1940’s.

Fortunately the official yellow taxis and ride platforms like Uber, Beat, or Didi are amazingly inexpensive: $4 USD for a 30 min ride, no tip required or expected. But I guess the conflict between the ride platforms and taxis is the same everywhere. After witnessing taxi strikes in several cities around the world to complain about Uber (when the real complain should be the taxi regulation or fees), this time I went through Uber disappearance: the last day of my trip, following a government order, Uber (but not Didi or Beat) closed operations in Colombia. Of course I “had to endure” many conversations, with opposing views, with Uber and Taxi drivers. And, as it’s usually the case, things are more complex and nuanced than many people would like us to believe.

I did not sleep much on this trip due to the very tight schedules and amount of work, so obviously I didn’t even have time for museums or even city strolls. But I did enjoy a couple of nice Colombian meals with my distributor: one in Chico Lago called Plaka, and the other in Usaquen, the excellent Casa Vieja (probably the best ajiaco con pollo in Bogota).

On the return I went into the El Dorado Lounge at the El Dorado BOG airport. It’s a nice one (nothing to do with Asian or Middle East ones, though) but they are now charging $7 USD for the food buffet! So I tried the Avianca one, but it was so sad (albeit with a great kids section) that I had to go to a third one: the Latam Lounge. That one was better, with a few nice surprises, like a poached egg station, and coconut drinks.

Flights went without an issue, although the B-737-700 United uses for this route have seen better days, even in Business class (thank you for the upgrade, United!)… many years ago. Yet once thing remains mostly consistent: most United employees try their best to help and serve you nicely, in this case the amazing flight attendant Craig. Thank you!

Photos here.