Bogota in 9 Essential Experiences - United Hub

Bogotá in 9 essential experiences

By Nick Harper

Once considered off-limits for international tourists on account of a long-running civil war and unpredictable violence, Colombia has undergone a dramatic and dazzling reinvention in recent years. Nowhere is it more evident than in the capital Bogotá, where a sleek new airport welcomes visitors from around the globe to a city boasting beautiful colonial history with elegant shops, hip bars and high-end restaurants. For any first-time visitor, here are 9 essential experiences to create an unforgettable trip.


Plaza Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia.

1. Start at the historic heart of Bogotá

The most logical starting point for any Bogotá visit is in the city's main square, Plaza Bolívar. It's located in the very heart of the original town, La Candelaria, a neighborhood of narrow streets lined with colonial-style houses and buildings. In the center of the square stands a bronze statue of Simón Bolívar, liberator of Latin America from Spanish rule, surrounded by four of the city's architectural highlights: the almost-Parisian Palacio de Liévano (city hall), the Palacio de Justicia (supreme court), the Capitolio Nacional (houses of congress) and the neoclassical Catedral Primada.


2. Go for gold in the Museo del Oro

A lust for gold brought the Spanish to Colombia and the evidence of their taste for opulence is on display at the fascinating Museo del Oro. The most famous of Bogotá's many museums, it holds more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other precious materials laid out over three floors and a series of thematic rooms. Close by, set over two floors inside the Banco de la República's massive museum complex, the Museo Botero celebrates Colombia's most famous artist, Fernando Botero, whose sculptures and paintings celebrate beautiful plus-sized subjects.


Artisan crafts at the Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquen.

3. Stroll through the markets

Two of Bogota's most characterful markets are Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquen and Paloquemao. The first takes place on Sundays and is a treasure trove of artisan crafts. The second is a vast, sprawling foodie's heaven, featuring vegetables, meats, fish and fruit you've never even heard of, let alone tasted. If you're feeling brave, order the jugo de borojo y cangrejo — a fruit shake mixed with live river crabs that just might boost your virility.


4. Take a food tour

Bogotá has enjoyed a culinary explosion over recent years with cafes, restaurants and hole-in-the-wall dining options to cater to all tastes and budgets, from humble corrientazo serving up hearty set menus of ajiaco soup and corn, potatoes, yucca and meat, to high-end culinary experiences such as Criterión, Matiz and Tábula. To really taste the local flavors, sign up for a food tour and allow an expert to show you the sights and flavors of the city's neighborhoods. La Mesa offers one of the best tours.

Sim\u00f3n Bol\u00edvar Metropolitan Park

5. Explore the "Green Lungs"

At 400 hectares, Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park offers relief in a city of more than eight million bustling people. Sitting in the very heart of the city, the park is a series of five neighboring green spaces that function as 'the lung of the city'. Explore lakes, parks, a children's museum and the Events Plaza, where international artists such as Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aerosmith have performed (and shattered the tranquility).



Inside of Iglesia de San Francisco in Bogota, Colombia

6. Visit the church

In a city of so many places of worship, the Iglesia de San Francisco stands tall as the city's oldest surviving church. Constructed between 1557 and 1621 and standing amid the city's modern office blocks, its vast wooden doors give way to a brooding interior of dark wood, gold leaf and incense quite at odds with its 21st century surroundings. The most notable aspect is the 17th-century gilded main altarpiece, Bogotá's largest and most elaborate piece of art of its kind.


7. Experience the night life

When night falls on Bogotá, head for Gaira Café, the legendary restaurant and bar owned, and occasionally frequented, by Colombian singer Carlos Vives. Part restaurant, part classic Colombian dance hall, part musical museum, space is always at a premium. But if you can't get in, head for Zona T, where the evening stretches long into the night at bar/clubs such as La Villa and Armando Records.


Street graffiti in Bogota, Colombia.

8. Take a street art tour

Bringing color to a city packed full of impressive but undeniably grey colonial architecture, Bogotá's street art scene tells the city's more recent history through a series of vibrant murals. Join up with the Bogotá Graffiti Tour and your expert guides will walk and talk you through the most important art in the city, taking you through the streets of La Candelaria and deep into the city's urban art scene. Reserve a tour here.

9. See the city from above

For the best views and photo opportunities of Bogotá, head up Cerro de Monserrate, an Andean bluff to the east of the city. The white church that stands proudly atop this mountain is a mecca for pilgrims drawn to its altar statue of the Fallen Christ, to whom many miracles have been credited. For the non-religious, the panoramic views of the city 10,000 feet below are as strong a lure. A funicular railway and cable car will carry you up, though it's also possible to walk up via a route that starts beside the base station. If you have any breath left after walking to the top, the views will take it away.

If you go

United Airlines flies directly to this city. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your next South America adventure.

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

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