Published on March 31st, 2013 | by admin
My Bogotá: Travel Tips from María Cristina (Macky) Osorio, United Airlines
Known to many friends and family as Macky, Maria Cristina Osorio was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She’s based in Houston, Texas now, where she serves as director of international communications at United Airlines. But she quite justifiably has great affection for her hometown — and in this exclusive interview, she shares her favorite Bogotá travel tips and talks about how this fast-growing destination has evolved.
How has Bogotá changed since you left?
I left Bogotá many years ago, and the city has changed tremendously. Bogota is now one of the largest cities in Latin America, with almost 9 million residents. It’s a city full of contrasts, offering everything from old colonial churches, to all kinds of cultural events, international cuisine, parks… and, of course, frenetic traffic and modern skyscrapers. I love the contrasts. Even though I have lived in a lot of different places, I still feel at home in Bogota and sometimes still can find the city of my childhood in some corners, even as I’m discovering this new modern, energetic capital.
As a local, what do you personally like best about Bogotá?
I love the city’s location and its surroundings! The Sabana de Bogotá is surrounded by the Cordillera de los Andes mountain range and because of its very high altitude (2640 meters, 8661 feet) and the frequent rain, the diversity of vegetation and trees is just amazing. Then, going from nature to culture, the city offers an immense variety of cultural events… for example, the Ibero-American Theater Festival is the largest of its kind in the world. Two million people attend the 450 performances each year in theaters and on the streets of Bogota.
What are some of your own personal favorite restaurants in Bogotá, and what dishes do you recommend?
Andrés Carne de Res, located in a little town close to Bogota called Chia, has to be one of my favorites. Its décor is one-of-a-kind, with all kinds of articles hanging from the walls and ceilings, plus diners get to enjoy music and performance art from waiters and staff! They serve typical Colombian dishes, and there’s a bar and dancing in the evening. I also like Casa Vieja (the one across from the San Diego church downtown). And my favorite dish is Ajiaco santafereño, a very hearty soup that contains pieces of chicken, large chunks of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of native potatoes (tiny papas criollas that fall apart and thicken the soup), cream, capers and avocado and, of course, guasca, a very aromatic herb.
What other venues would you recommend for business travelers who need to meet with colleagues or clients for drinks and entertaining, or perhaps for a couple looking for a romantic night out?
There are several entertainment zones that are great for travelers — Zona T, PARQUE 93, Zona G, Zona M, Usaquén. All those places have wonderful restaurants with local and international cuisine, bars, cafes and discos.
What are your favorite hotels in Bogotá?
Embassy Suites, JW Marriott, Casa Medina and Hilton Bogotá are all located in the northern area close to Zona G; they’re good hotels in very nice neighborhoods with restaurants within walking distance. The Hotel Estelar de la 93 is a brand-new hotel in a good location, within walking distance of Parque 93 where there are great restaurants and bars.
What is your own personal idea of a perfect day in the city?
There are so many great places to visit! Definitely I would suggest going to Monserrate, a mountain that towers over center of Bogota, where you’ll get a great view of the city. You shouldn’t miss the Gold Museum, which has the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work in the world. Then head to the Candelaria zone where old Bogota was founded and where you’ll still find colonial homes. It’s also close to the presidential palace and Congress. If you have more time, be sure to visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira [one of LatinFlyer’s “Top 5 Coolest Churches in Latin America“], an underground Catholic church built inside the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground. You will never find anything else like it anywhere and it’s located in Zipaquira, a charming little village located about one hour from Bogota.
For more Colombia travel inspiration: Check out LatinFlyer’s 5 Reasons to Visit — and Love — Bogotá.
Maria Cristina Osorio is Director – International Communications – Latin America and the U.S. Latino Market for United Airlines. She is responsible for the airline’s public relations activities including media relations, media sponsorships, and travel-industry special events, and supervises a network of agencies throughout Latin America. She studied philosophy and literature at La Salle University, Bogota, Colombia; and German, journalism and art history at the Freie Universitaet in Berlin. A native of Colombia, Osorio also has lived, studied and/or worked in Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Germany.