We took public transport from Barranquilla to Cartagena and it only took a couple of hours to get there. It probably would have been faster but there was a considerable amount of road construction. We made it to Cartegena early afternoon and it was a bit too early to check in, so we left our bags at the hotel and went for a late lunch. We immediately liked the Getsamani area, it was once a dangerous area but now it has been revitalized with trendy restaurants and small cafe’s. It’s a great area to stay in while visiting Cartagena. I loved that they would bring a trampoline out to the square every evening for the kids. There’s also some fantastic street art in this neighbourhood.
After we checked in we decided to look around the old city, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s also South America’s most fortified city. Walking around the historical center was great, there’s so many little alley’s and streets to explore.
I loved seeing the parrots in the trees around the church!
While walking around we could hear music coming from Bolivar Park, it was the Mapali Dancers performing. They were fun to watch and they work solely by donation.
The next day we walked over to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. It’s on the hill of San Lazaro in a very strategic location, enabling views from both sea and land. I’m sure we chose the hottest day to visit, we both felt light headed from the sun and I was literally turning into a puddle. It was definitely worth visiting even in the extreme heat!
After our visit to Castillo San Felipe we walked to the marina to check out the boat trips to the Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca, they were pretty reasonable so we added that as a possibility for the next day.
When we woke the next morning the weather seemed questionable and we were on the fence as to whether we should do the boat trip or not. The man at our hotel reception told us we should go as the rain was supposed to stop at around 10AM, so out the door we went. Not long after we realized we forgot our camera so we hurried back to the hotel to grab it. We rang the bell and no one came, we rang the bell again and still no one came. Then we banged on the door and no one came. The hotel’s neighbours came over to help us, they phoned the hotel, rang the bell, knocked on the door…no one came. Then the sky opened up into a torrential downpour, the nice neighbours invited us in to their homes to sit and wait out the rain but we decided to try to get somewhere for breakfast. Big mistake! The roads started to flood and so we stood under someone’s restaurant awning and waited it out (unfortunately the restaurant was closed). How the hell can a hotel lock out their guests…IN COLOMBIA? That was a first for us! Finally we got in and I told them how I thought being locked out might be a security risk for the guests (what can I say…I wear my emotions on my sleeve). Apparently this issue didn’t phase them because that same night 2 other guests were locked out, they rang the bell, banged on the door….and we ended up letting them in. They were pretty mad too!
Instead of the boat trip, which thankfully we didn’t take, we visited Convento de la Popa. This monastery is located up on a hill and offers 360 degree views of Cartagena. It used to be a place where runaway slaves would devil worship and perform sacrifices. The flower filled courtyard inside was really pretty.
The rest of the day was spent meandering around the old city and enjoying some awesome Colombian coffee.
The sunset from the wall of the old city was brilliant!
We always saw iguanas in the park on our walk to the historic center.
The next morning the sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. We headed right for the marina and booked ourselves on a tour to the Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca.
As we approched some of the islands, these boys paddled like crazy to get alongside our boat. Apparently it’s a tradition in this area to toss money into the sea and the boys dive for it. Let me tell you, these kids dove in to the water amazingly quick, grabbed the money, and they were back in the canoe in what seemed like mere seconds!
We did a little snorkeling but you had to be careful because the current was quite strong. Some of the corals were really nice but we suspect in the future they will be gone, the guides were walking on them to pull tourists (that can’t swim) around on a tube!
We saw this beautiful place that looked abandoned…if we win the lottery we’ll revitalize this one!!
Then we had a delicious lunch and did a little beaching on Playa Blanca. This beach has such a bohemium vibe and all the little restaurants and guesthouses looked like this:
The camping looked a little sketchy!
We really enjoyed Cartagena and the old city is not to be missed when visiting Colombia!
Our flight to Medellin was just about to board when all of a sudden a large group of passengers formed a human blockade across all of the gates. I guess they loved us and didn’t want us to go ha ha…actually they were angry because they were told that their destination airport was closed but they found out other flights had been landing. So in order to get the airline to take care of them they blocked everyone else’s flights. Surprisingly it was short lived, they were ushered out the gate and put on a plane to ‘somewhere’.
Where we stayed: Zana Boutique Hotel 👎
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel