I Left My Heart in Cartagena

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Colombia, Play-by-plays, South America | 0 comments


I didn’t fall in love with Cartagena at first sight. The city has been on my bucket list for a while, so I had high expectations. But I had to adjust them given the fact that we were going for New Year’s and would have to deal with lodging issues and tons of tourists. All the hostels were booked up way in advance, even the expensive hotels were mostly sold out. So we booked whatever was left and hoped for the best. Upon our arrival at said venue, without saying a word, our immediate thoughts were:
Me–well, I don’t see any prostitutes…yet…
Yus–I guess if we unscrew the window bars in the bathroom we have a backup escape route
Roza–I will pay any amount of money to not stay here

So without further ado, we used the hotel’s wifi (it had wifi!!!) to book a nice room in Bocagrande (Hotel Dann), replete with a balcony, ocean view, and enough space to sleep 5. The decision was made. We were doing Cartagena Gangnam Style.

We explored the Old City by night and wandered its labyrinthine streets armed with cold Aguilas.


The next day we checked out the Castillo San Felipe, and continued to explore the Old City but in daylight.



That’s when I was in love. I don’t know what it is, but walled cities really do it for me. Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia are some of my faves. Highlights of Cartagena Old City are Paraiso Ice Cream and coffee shop where I had some of the tastiest of both, the boutiques where I wished I were employed and didn’t have an overweight backpack (Onda del Mar and Silvia Tcherassi sighhhh), and the seafood (although my favorite sea snack thus far is smoked ray in Santa Marta).


We were debating between a day trip to Playa Blanca or another island to enjoy some beach time. Although Cartagena itself is on the water, it is a port city so the beaches are a bit dingy, the water isn’t very clear, and the rip currents are strong. Plus there are tons of vendors harassing you to buy drinks, jewelry, get a massage etc and apparently even more of them at Playa Blanca. So we 1%ed again, and booked a day trip to a more secluded island where we would not be bothered. Playa Blanca is supposed to be one of those quintessentially picture perfect beaches, but we wanted some peace and quiet from vendors and plus we are heading to the beaches of Tayrona National Park next.

After a day at Isla del Sol, back to Old Town we headed for New Year’s Eve. The city was bursting with people. Most streets were filled with tables, DJs,bands and revelers. And at midnight we watched 5 or so fireworks displays on a rooftop which was an apropos way to usher out 2012 and welcome 2013.


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