Galerias is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Bogota. It’s not mentioned in any tourist books like Lonely Planet, but it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods. I’ve been meaning to do a Galerias picture post for a while. I was finally motivated by the CR article about the US embassy issuing a violent crime warning for Bogota. Apparently some embassy employees were scoped and another stabbed on separate nights.
I’m not surprised at those assaults. Just a month ago some gringos I know were attacked in Zona Rosa, one was stabbed. And a Colombian friend was scoped last week. That’s common. What surprised me about that article was that Galerias is “off limits to embassy employees.”
That seems backwards. Galerias is a middle class neighborhood, but I think it’s safer than Zona Rosa. You have to understand the mentality. Most Colombian youngsters looking for trouble aren’t particularly brave. If they want to take their aggression out on somebody, they’re going to pick somebody they’re sure they’ll easily beat on. They go to the north to find a gomelo or gringo who’s drunk and separated from his group, or a group of gomelos or gringos who they outnumber. Plus, the Galerias party district is one strip. It’s not an entire rumba neighborhood with countless side blocks like Zona Rosa.
Galerias is safe. Here’s a Plan B video on the party area:
Aside from the party strip, Galerias is known for shopping. It’s named for the shopping mall, but all of Calle 53 up to Avenida Caracas is storefronts selling everything from handcrafts, clothes and bridal wear, Christmas decorations and religious art, everything. The window merchandising is amazing. It reminds me of what Madison Avenue in the 1940s must’ve been like with intricate displays to stand out from the other stores and entice passersby to come in. There are super high-end art galleries and other stuff I can’t afford.
I love Galerias for the architecture. It’s so diverse, much like St. Louis. You can see a Spanish colonial building sitting right next to a modern one. It’s always a pleasure to ride my bike down the Calle 53 bike path and take in the scenery.
The area’s named for a shopping mall which I don’t like at all. It has everything, just about every Colombian corporation that matters has a branch there, but the hallways are narrow and the ceilings low. I get claustrophobic. So no pics from inside, only the neighborhood. I took the shots during the World Cup Under-20, which was held in Colombia. The Galerias area businesses went all out with flags of the qualifying countries and the Colombian flag everywhere.
Included is the architecture on Calle 53, the party district, the residential area behind the mall (I probably couldn’t afford to live there), and the bad ass window displays on Cl 53. In no particular order at all, all mixed up. I organized them on FB, so for easier viewing see the Galerias album on the Expat Chronicles FB page.
Note the crowning jewel, Monasterio. It’s the white building with green rooftops, and the window display has a bad ass model sailboat. Also note the tiny patio bar El Muro, where I always go to if I’m drinking in Galerias. It’s run by my friend Yorman, who’s built an elegant place and always plays tasteful music. Thirdly, note the purple dance club Morena, which when I took the pics was set to host Henry Fiol, one of the top salsa acts of all time (his best video). Galerias is a salsa hot spot in Bogota. Pachanga y Pochola also has world class acts – one time I went they were charging 70,000 pesos cover! Don’t note Chiguire, the chiguiro spot on 53 where I’ve had a bad experience every single time I’ve eaten there.
Support what Expat Chronicles is all about. Leave a tip to keep the laughs coming (and the news, insight and other stuff too).