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Friday, August 31, 2012

La Bottega

Chad and I have been getting out every few weeks for a dinner or breakfast without the kids.  Kids are great and friends are great, but really I most enjoy my time with just him.  It's more relaxing and it's more us.
While wandering the market in Usaquen one Sunday I stopped to admire a building that always grabs my attention.  It's white with bright blue shutters.  Flowers in window boxes add another splash of color.  As I was taking in all the color and texture I noticed the tile roof of the restaurant next door.  Sitting on the roof was an antique bicycle.  I was intrigued.  I looked closer and saw it was an Italian restaurant.  We peeked in, noted the name and went dining there last weekend.
The first thing of note is the intimate setting of the long, narrow space.  We chose the back of the restaurant next to a wall of wine.  We were intrigued with all the full bottles stacked against the wall.  Upright bottles next to each section showcased the type of wine being stored there.  Throughout the evening we noticed waiters consistently going to different sections of the long wall and grabbing a bottle.  I love that this was the actually storage and not all old bottles put there for ambiance!
In America we tend to think that all the food in Italy is the same.  It's obviously all like Olive Garden.  But the truth is that each section of Italy has their own style of cuisine.  Here in Bogota I've noticed that Italian restaurants seem to showcase one distinct area of Italy on their menu.  Sadly I don't remember what section of Italy the owner told us the menu focused on but the entrees  all sounded delicious.
We decided to get two and split because several things sounded so good.  I went with the risotto and Chad with a polenta with a marinara sauce and chorizo.  The risotto had more of a wild grain feel to it which was a nice twist.  We both enjoyed our meals very much.
Dessert was excellent as well.  Again they were a bit different than what I typically see.  Chad tried the tiramisu.  He will only give it a try if it is made in the restaurant.  It was definitely the best we have tried here in Bogota, but still a bit different than what I make here at home.  Considering it takes 1/2 a day to make my tiramisu  recipe, I consider it authentic!  I had a fabulous three chocolate mousse.
Following the dessert they brought a platter with heavy bottles with various liquors.  Just looking at the bottles with the heavy stoppers  brought a final elegance to the meal.
Enjoy!
Kris

Friday, August 17, 2012

Peeing on Trees

If you read the title of this post you probably assume I am talking about our dog.  But ironically, this is a skill that our male dog has not figured out.  He will get in some rather weird positions to pee, but has not grasped the concept of walking over to a tree and lifting his leg.
Rather, I am referring to the men of this city.  Now again you might jump to conclusions and determine that I am speaking of homeless men but again, you are wrong.  Just this morning I witnessed two men, one in a business suit and the other in dressy casual taking a pee against a tree in the middle of the park.  It is something I just can't comprehend.  It doesn't matter how many times I run into this situation, I just can't seem to get used to it.
The first time it happened was shortly after we arrived.  I was jogging a short ways behind a man and the next thing I knew he jumped one foot off the path and relieved himself.  I about fell over.
Fortunately I have not seen any women doing this.  I guess they have just learned the skill of waiting, but I am preparing myself so that I will not be too surprised when I see this before we leave.

- Kris

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monserrate

Monserrate is a church, and market on top of a hill. Mrs. Faber, Elena, and I went together. We took a train up to it. It had an awesome view of Bogota.  The church was really big. Then we went to the market. I ate an ant. They come in packs, but I only ate one. The rest are going to my family :). I also ate an intestine. It was very crunchy. I also had coco tea. The arepas there were really gross, and so were the chorizos. We had better arepas at the food festival later that night. Then when we were done we took a cable car down. It was very crowded inside.

Tomorrow morning I am leaving. I am so sad. Two weeks went by really fast.

I hope you have enjoyed my blogs.
Anna Buist
Poney Malta

View of Bogota

Cable Car

Cathedral

Coca tea and intestine

Market

Ant

Food plate

Embassy Kids Day

On friday we went to the embassy. We were volunteers to help with the kids. Mrs. Faber, Elena, and I helped with the 3rd-5th graders. One of our highlights of the day was a station where they announce important events. It was like a news show studio. There were camera men, people who asked questions about the Olympics, and the people to answer the questions. The kids kept rotating for who to do which job. On the last rotation, the lady controlling the news station told me and Elena to come up and be the people answering the questions. It was really fun actually. The only thing was that the questions were on flash cards, so for every rotation it was the same questions. It was still fun though.

Another highlight was that we got to see a dog show. The dogs were Colombian police dogs. They did some really cool tricks. One of them was that they lit rings on fire. Then they put the rings close enough so that the dogs couldn't land between them. It was really cool. Almost all of the dogs were German Shepard's.

Anna Buist
Dog Show

News room

Heavy vest

Andres Carne de Res

Andres Carne de Res is a restaurant with really yummy food. Elena, Maddie, and Mrs. Faber had been there before, so they knew what food they wanted to order. A chorizo, which is like a hot dog, in a bun with cheese on top. I decided to get the same thing. When we ordered the chorizos the waiter was trying to tell us that we might not like it, and so we should get four different things and share them. We told him that we all wanted the same thing. Then he sent a lady who spoke English to tell us. We again explained, and she understood, and told the other man.

It was a restaurant with a lot of junky stuff inside, but it was kind of cool. The bathrooms were old fashion  They had pull handles for the toilets instead of levers. The sink was just a valve with a lever on it. It kind of set an fun and lively atmosphere.
Cherry lemonades

With our sashes and paper crowns

While we were walking out, a worker flagged us down. He thought we were visiting Colombia. We got cardboard crowns, like the Burger King ones. We also got sashes that say illustrious visitor only in spanish. Then we got a picture with the person who gave them to us.

Anna Buist

Salt Cathedral

The Salt Cathedral was very interesting. There were the twelve stations of the cross, even though there were more than twelve. All of the crosses were lit up by changing color lights. Then when we had weaved through all the stations we got to see the actual cathedral. There was a wall with crystalized salt, that looked like a salt water fall. After that there was a hole dug out, and filled with water. The water was so still, that you could barley tell it was there. The hole was also an optical illusion. It looked like it was twenty feet deep, but it is only about four inches deep. It was reflecting the ceiling. It was really cool.

Salt waterfall

Reflecting pool

500 peso salt tree

We licked the wall...gross!
Anna Buist

Gold Museum

Later we went to the gold museum. It has the biggest collection of gold artifacts in the world! It was interesting to see gold that the people in Colombia used to wear. Something that was very common was to wear nose rings. Some of them were huge! There were also different types. One kind branched off from their nose and had beads dangling.

There is this legend called El Dorado. The legend is that the people had a lot of gold. They believed in different gods. They believed that a person that was a god was wearing a lot of gold, and when he jumped into lake Guatavita all the gold fell to the bottom. People would go diving, and try to get gold. No gold was ever found down there.

There was also a make shift market outside of the museum, but we didn't get anything to buy from there.

Anna Buist

Seed Factory (tagua)

The next day we went to the seed factory. It is a factory that they use seeds called tagua from a certain plant to make jewelry. We got to go on a tour to see how  they make it. First they make it smooth and got the skins off. Then they cut them and smoothed them again by tumbling then in sand. After that they start connecting the pieces together on how they want the jewelry made. Just another interesting fact, is that they also make buttons, and the store Banana Republic uses their buttons instead of plastic to be more natural.

Anna Buist

Tobia

A few days ago the plan was to go white water rafting in Tobia. Mr. Faber had the day off of work so we could all go. On the highway on the way there we got a flat tire. We had to call someone for help. We were along side of the road for about an hour and a half. Luckily Maddie had brought a game for us that kept us entertained. Then our tire got changed to the spare, but it would only be good for a short amount of time so we went to the closest town to get it fixed. That took about an hour, so while we were waiting, we got this Colombian food called empanadas. It is like a hard shell of corn flour stuffed with different things inside like rice and meat. It was very good. Then when the tire was ready we called the white water rafting place to see if they still wanted us to come. We were off to Tobia again. About a half an hour later, at a toll booth for the highway, a police officer pointed to our tire. After we payed we found that the same tire was flat, so we got it changed by some workers on the toll road. Then again the spare would only be good for a short amount of time, so we went back into town, and decided we weren't going to go. While we were getting the tire fixed again. We got ice cream. The lady that was scooping the ice cream for us, was trying to convince us of not putting certain flavors. She told Damon that he could not get a scoop of chocolate, and then mandarin. He finally convinced her to let him have it. It was actually pretty funny. When the tire was good we left town, back to Bogota. On the way back we stopped at a stand with honey and jam. We bought a few jars, and got back in the car. When we got home it was 5:00. When we left that morning it was about 9:00.

Anna Buist

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Horse Back Riding

Monday we went horse back riding on some cool trails. We got there forty minutes early because we thought it would take longer to get there. We had to wait until it was our time. Then we couldn't find where to go, so Mrs. Faber called the person with the horses, but she couldn't understand what the person was saying. She had to call Mr. Faber, and have him call the person. Then a man came to us on a horse, and showed us the way. It was my first time riding a horse. Sometimes the horse wouldn't cooperate, but it was really fun. We got to see some amazing views of Bogota. The city and some houses in the hills. The only thing is, now I'm really sore!


Bogota view

Anna Buist

Ucaquien and Church

On Sunday we went to church. We biked there, it was about a twenty minute ride. It is easy to get there because on Sunday mornings they close down some roads so that people can run, walk, or bike without trouble. It is called ciclovia. The church was pretty modern with a band and projectors for the words to the songs. It was in spanish so I couldn't understand it, but I followed along with the versus.

After church Maddie stayed home and just Mrs. Faber, Elena and I went to a market called Uciquien. It was another market with some food, but mostly bags, clothes and colombian stuff.  I got a bag that is made with a Colombia technique with the fabric called mola. I also got a cool Bogota shirt from Mrs. Faber. We had these things called churros. They are basically like strips of elephant ear. They're Mexican, and tasted really good. Then I tried three juices with chunks of fruit in them. One of the, was good, one was okay, and the other wasn't that good, but it was a good idea to try them. There were also people selling dogs and cats. There was this one cat that was so cute! Elena and Mrs. Faber both wanted it, but Mrs. Faber said they didn't need another cat. Elena still didn't give in. Finally they made a deal that if all the pets go with Maddie and Damon Elena could get any pet she chooses.

Cupcakes at BakedByAna

Cute kitten they were selling

Empanadas

Weird fruit juices
Anna Buist

Food Festival

I haven't posted for a while so I have a lot to write about.
On Saturday we went to the first day of a food festival down the park. There was quite a variety of food there including the countries of Colombia, France, Switzerland, and more. We had brats with melted cheese on top from Switzerland. They were really delicious. We also had crepes for dessert, and other food too. To pay you have to go to this booth, you give them money, and they give you paper slips telling how much the paper is worth. Then you pay with those. If you have extra paper left you can't exchange it back. We might go back next weekend because we still have money to spend. Next weekend will be just Colombian foods though.

Strawberry and Nutella crepes at Crepes & Waffles
Anna Buist

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cupcakes by Ana



No trip to Usaquen is complete without stopping in Baked by Ana for a cupcake or truffle pop.  We first met Ana in the upper market of Usaquen on Sundays  in a little booth selling cupcakes.  Recently she opened a shop right on the main Calle headed up to the monastery.  Colorful little mini-cupcakes fill the case.  All the cupcakes have a base flavor of vanilla cake with a spectacular frosting and topping making each one individual.  It's hard to choose between flavors such as Amaretto, Choco Praline, Limon Carmelo and Mora Azul, but my favorite wins every time, Mole Picante.  A thick, dark fudge frosting with a hint of chili peper makes the perfect accompaniment to a Mochaccino.

Our friend from home Anna enjoying a cupcake

Usaquen 
Calle 119B No. 5-31

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Things About Bogotá

I thought since I haven't written about it yet that I would try to describe Bogotá. 
The weather here varies, but not a ton. It rains a lot but when it isn't gloomy it is quite nice.
In some ways it is kind of like Kenya. Like when there are people trying to sell stuff, they  weave through the cars at a stop light and try to sell you stuff. They also have roads that are not in great condition like Kenya.

We are going to the food festival at lunch time. I will write a out at later today, or tomorrow.

Anna Buist

Friday, August 3, 2012

Il Tinello


When I'm asked for a restaurant suggestion my response tends to be:
"Yeah, there's this great hamburger place downtown sort of by a bank."  Very vague.  I know.  So as part of this blog, for my own benefit of memory, I have decided to add restaraunt suggestions to pass along.
Here goes!

Chad took me to this fabulous Italian restaurant for our anniversary.  Only a15 min. walk from the apartment gave a good transition from work to dining.
We loved the decore.  Old world Italian with tables tucked into small nooks and cranies.  Faux painted walls surrounded vintage doorways.   Our table was nesteld next to the fireplace.  The cracking fire took the chill off the night.  A nice, quiet atmosphere surrounded us.
Apparently all items are made in house - from scratch.  We went with a starter of proscutto and melon that was light and refreshing.  Chad enjoyed a meal of risotto while I dined on ravioli both in a savory cheese sauce.  Our true test of an Italian restaurant is the tiramisu.  Major fail in this department.  Frozen and a bit lacking in flavor.  I wished I had gone for something else.
If you are craving a nice, quiet Italian meal in the Chico neighborhood I would definately suggest Il Tinello.

- Kris

The Orphanage

We didn't do much yesterday, but Mrs. Faber, Elena, and I went to an orphanage. It had infants to elementary aged kids. Elena and I helped out with the 4 months to a year while Mrs. Faber helped with the infants. They were all so cute! We got to play with them for about an hour and a half, and I still wanted to stay longer.
A random interesting fact I learned it that they don't use lawn mowers in Colombia they only use weed wackers  (sorry if that is spelled wrong).

Anna Buist

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Downtown Bogota

A few days ago we went to a place called Simon Bolivar Plaza. It was filled with pigeons and we got to buy some corn and feed them. Some flew up onto our hands. We also got to ride on a llama!
Then we went into a catholic church. It was big and beautiful.
We also saw a motor cade that the president of Colombia was in. Then we got to see The Palace which is like the white house in the United States.
Another thing we did is go to a costume museum with lots of old dresses from the different parts of Colombia.


Simon Bolivar Plaza


Presidential Motorcade

Palace
After that we went to another market, only it wasn't food. "It was crafts and trinkity stuff." Quote Elena.

Anna Buist