After Medellin, our last few days were spent in Cartagena. Cartagena was different from both — Bogota and Medellin. The warmest city of the three with cruise ship unloading passengers after passengers, Cartagena is also the most touristy city. The city is divided in two parts: the old town, signified by the old walls, and the new town, signified by Miami-like skyscrapers.
We stayed at the Casa Canabal Hotel in the old town. At first I was a bit off put by not having a window to the street, but after the first night in the city I quickly learned that it was best — streets are small and nightlife can be loud.
The door to the hotel is a bit inconspicuous from outside, there were many times when I walked past the hotel without realizing it. The door is kept locked at all times so you have to knock when you arrive.
My favorite part of the hotel was the upstairs deck and the pool, which I discovered only on the last day, but thoroughly enjoyed.
This was, by far, my favorite meal in Colombia!
I’ve been dreaming of fresh whole fish cooked to perfection for a really long time and La Mulata delivered just that.
Their drinks were also creative and fresh! I highly recommend this restaurant!
Nothing in particular stands out about this place. They do have a good wine collection and a live musician. This was the night of my birthday and the team I was traveling with was so sweet to surprise me with a cake! Thank you!
On the last night in Cartagena, impressed by Mistura in Medellin, I once again chose sushi for dinner. Unfortunately Pezetarian was quite disappointing. Considering Cartagena is ocean-side, the fish just didn’t live up to the expectation. It was ok with a beer. Presentation was pretty (excuse my finger).
In my opinion this place was unnecessarily fancy, but if you’re looking for a nice white-cloth style dinner this might be a good option. Food was good and prices are bearable.
Mimo’s is outside the walls of the old town and is an awesome mid-afternoon icecream pit stop!
This is one of those must-see places, but I wouldn’t spend too much time here. The views from the top of the castle are nice and you can see the different parts of the city.
The best part was this chilling kitty.
Iglesia de San Pedro Claver and Plaza de San Pedro Claver
This seems to be the center of the old town with many street performers. I like to stop by in places like these, but generally dislike lingering for too long since this would also be a prime location for pickpockets.
Explore Architecture of the Old Town
There is no specific destination for this. Just walk around! The colors are fascinating!
Pier Los Pegasos and Clock Tower
Clock tower is the main entrance into the old town with a beautiful pier just outside the town walls. A nice place to stroll through, but not very good for resting as you will be bombarded by street sellers of various tours. If you know me, or have been following me for a while, you know that I generally like to to explore travel destinations at my own pace and am not a big fan of tours.
Santa Cruz Cemetery Manga
Is it weird to visit a cemetery? I was fascinated by the intricate tombstones at the Santa Cruz Cemetery. I’ve been to cemeteries before, but I have never been to a funeral.And it just so happened that there was a funeral procession while I was there. I did no take photos of the funeral, but I found it so refreshing and interesting that the attendees wore white and other colorful clothing; the funeral was more of a celebration of the person that has passed rather than a sad ordeal.
Manga is a great neighborhood with a mix of old and new. There were few tourists around and no sales men chasing me down the street. Many beautiful villas with varying architectural designs.
Port of Cartagena & Aso Manga Park
After escaping the persuasive salesmen of the old town, crossing the bridge into Manga, and walking around for an hour, catching some shade with the breeze from the ocean while watching yachts on one side and cargo ships on the other was a welcomed break.
Cartagena is famous for their colorful party buses — chivas. They are painted in crazy colors, have fun lights, and the music bass is too hard to resist. However, I feel conflicted about this experience, on one hand, it was super fun, on the other, it was too loud and too hot! Essentially you’re crammed into a bus with 6 people per row, given some rum, and the musicians play bluegrass-like music three rows away, to worse, right next to your ear. This is one of those experiences — I am glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again.
Cartagena Botanical Garden
The botanical garden is about 30 minutes outside the city. Make sure to bring a mosquito repellent. A couple of exciting things happened: first, we saw monkeys! and second, I tried cocaine. O’kay, perhaps that’s a bit of exaggeration, I chewed half of a coca leaf. It was my birthday, so I decided to go wild! 😛
Watch Sunset at the Plaza Santo Domingo
I could not believe my eyes that this sunset was even real! Find a nice spot on the wall and enjoy the sunset.