Bogota, Colombia, is sometimes called the “Athens of South America” because its more than 100 tertiary institutions draw in university students both nationally and internationally. This week the scholarly city will also be home to several internationally renowned tennis players as they compete in the Claro Open, an ATP World Tour 250 Tournament, which takes place July 14-20. In a metropolis as large, diverse and culturally rich as Bogota, it’s impossible for tennis fans hoping to catch most of the Claro action to also cover every site in just a week. MyTennisLessons gives you a few matches and places you won’t want to miss while in Bogota.
Players to Watch:
Who to bet on: Defending champion Ivo Karlovic or no. 14 in on the tour, Richard Gasquet, who are the no. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively
Who to cheer for: Alejandro Falla, the tournament’s home country hero, who lost to Karlovic in the finals last year
Who to hope for: Aussie Sam Groth, who defeated Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Tennis Hall of Fame Championships last week before losing to Karlovic in the semifinal 6-4, 6-4.
Coolest Thing to Do: From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday enjoy 70 miles of car-free streets in Bogota for the Ciclovía, the world’s largest biking network. Join about 2 million people (30 percent of the city’s population) for this weekly public holiday. When you’re ready to hop off the bike, stay active at any of the 28 stages where aerobics instructors run exercise classes. This event is great for families, free of cost and a wonderful way to see the city.
Best Place to Get Lost:Wander through the historic city center, La Candelaria, where you can find bars and restaurants abound. Nearby museums, including the Museo del Oro will give you a taste of the region’s history and culture.
Museo del Oro: View about 55,000 pieces of gold from pre-hispanic Colombia, including the Balsa Muisca, a solid gold figurine of a boat. The statuette depicts a ceremony of the legend of El Dorado in which the Muisca chief covered his body in gold dust and jumped into Lake Guatavita to make gold and jewel offerings to the gods.
Best view: Before you leave, don’t forget to check out Monserrate, a mountain in the middle of the city, rising more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Just be sure you don’t go with your significant other; Colombians believe if a couple visits the peak their relationship will not last. But this small superstition shouldn’t drive you away from the southerly Athens; from its bicycles to its golden boats, it’s easy to see why Bogota is a South American gem.