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12 things Londoners will notice about Bogota

  1. Queuing for a bus is rare.

On the TransMilenio in Bogota, it’s every man for himself; unlike London buses, on most TransMilenio buses there aren’t specific doors for people getting on or getting off (although these are being introduced on certain routes, thank God!), so as the doors open at the station it’s like two opposing armies clashing as each side struggles to board or disembark. If you wait for people to get off before you board (London tube-style), you’ll likely miss the bus because the bus drivers won’t wait around for polite people, and neither will your fellow passengers. Conclusion? You will soon find yourself pining for the Tube.

  1. You snooze, you lose.

If you make the mistake of losing concentration or hesitating for a second while waiting in line to buy a bus ticket/drink/hamburger etc. you’ll find yourself ousted as someone else unapologetically barges in front of you. Similarly, if you’re trying to withdraw money and take too long to choose the correct option on the ATM machine as you desperately try to figure out the difference between “Ahorros” and “Corriente”, the machine will impatiently spit your card back out at you, and you’ll have to start the whole process again.

  1. You have to forget to ‘touch out’

At some point, Londoners in Bogota will experience a brief moment of panic, fearing that they’ve forgotten to ‘touch out’ of the TransMilenio station… before remembering that you don’t have to do that here.

  1. Escalators – just stand wherever you want

Another confirmation that people don’t stand on the right and walk on the left anywhere else but London.

  1. People will rarely hold the door for you

And if you kindly hold the door for someone else, as you’re accustomed to doing back home, this will more often than not be met with silent indifference. You’ll find you become an expert in delivering a sarcastic “You’re welcome” in Spanish.

  1. Londoners will walk faster than the average Colombian-in-heels

You will regularly find yourself circumnavigating slower-walking people, particularly as Colombian women will rarely leave their house in anything other than heels. Forget walking to work in your suit and trainers, and changing into your heels in the office – appearance is ALWAYS more important than comfort in Bogota!

  1. You’ll accumulate a mental list of jaw-dropping moments

This will include: how cheap hair salons are; how expensive gym membership is; the fact that ‘Happy Hour’ ends at 5pm; the box of 100 Lipton’s tea-bags which costs £7; the medium-sized tub of ice cream which costs £9; the queues of people trying to get into the TransMilenio station at rush-hour stretching all the way along the bridge and down the stairs; the sheer amount of food you can get for £2.50 or less from a lunchtime cafeteria…

  1. Chinese food just isn’t the same

A Chinese takeaway will become known as an imminent-disappointment-on-a-moped speeding its way towards your address…

  1. You’ll miss the London eccentricity

People generally don’t randomly erupt into a chorus of Erasure’s ‘Give a lil respect’ in the middle of the TransMilenio station.

  1. You’ll need to teach people how to prepare a good cup of English tea.

At some point you’ll experience the moment of horror when you realise that the kind person preparing your tea is about to put the milk into the cup before the hot water…and eventually you’ll start asking if you can just add the milk yourself.

  1. You’ll start to adopt the local ‘liftiquette’

In Colombia saying ‘goodbye’ to the people left in the lift as you get off at your floor is considered good etiquette; it will feel a bit strange at first but you’ll get used to it. Just be prepared for the odd looks from people when you accidentally do it back in London!

  1. You’ll choose the bus over a taxi anytime

At first you’ll love the novelty of being able to afford to take a taxi whenever you want, before eventually becoming jaded by the generally cantankerous behaviour of Bogota’s taxi drivers, and henceforth opting to travel by bus or bike.

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