Cartagena is a gem on the brink of turning into destination hot spot. Popular, but not over populated. Vibrant. Picturesque, but far from perfect. The true beauty of the port city, located on the northern coast of Colombia, lies in the preservation of its history—an eminent past that spans over 400 years. So yes, tropical temperatures, the juiciest fruit, succulent seafood, stunning painted canvases, and an endless supply of rum is at your disposal, but aside from all that ( and all that is a lot) there’s so much more Cartagena has to offer.
I have a confession. Me and my travel buddy Denise, one of my dearest friends, strolled Cartagena’s Walled City four times during our 5-day stay. Each walk our gaze romancing something new. One morning it was a hole in the wall restaurant with no formal menu, just a friendly middle-age woman wearing a grease stained apron rattling off in espanol what they were serving up. When we were done, we couldn’t help but lick our fingers and say muchas gracias one too many times.
I’m still kicking myself for underestimating Cartagena’s local art scene and not budgeting enough to make some decent purchases. I did cop a few canvases. They’ll hold me over til’ next time.
Cartagena is a city for walking but if you stay in a hotel on Playa Bocagrande (like we did) , a $6000 ($3USD) peso cab ride to and from Old City is the favorable and very affordable mode of transportation. Use it as an opportunity to brush up on your Spanish, snap silly selfies (look up) and/or quiz the driver about non-touristy things to do in his hood. One dude’s cab we got into was blasting Drunk in Love (in english) and when we asked him where we could go to hear music like that, he responded, my house. Ha!
Bold doors and balconies blooming with attractive floral arrangements are sprinkled throughout the cobble stone roads of the historic Walled District. The kaleidoscope of colors will leave you in awe.
Snapped mid-convo with an Aussie jet-setter discussing the torture chamber on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Plaza San Pedro. Nice shot Dee.
And It Was All Yellow.
So, directly across the street from our hotel was this! The cutest little eatery with outdoor seating, ice-cold Aguila and the type of meals you would most likely find in your mom or grandma’s kitchen. This is pescado sierra frito, patacones, arroz con coco and ensalada = yum-ay!
In Jamaica these sugary coconut treats are called gizzada, forgive me for not getting the proper name of the Colombian version but they’re equally as good. If you spot a Palenque woman in Old City dressed in festive garb with a metal bowl on her head, she’s probably selling these. Cop some—for now and later.
After days of seeing men push juice carts around transporting this enticing tangerine-colored liquid, we finally caved and gave it a try. It was bitter, which was unexpected but refreshing. If you see it, try it. When in Cartagena…
Museum hopping and sidewalk shopping
I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been fresh-fruit deprived for a moment too long or if some special potion is planted in the soil from where this juicy stuff cometh. I support the later. The Mangos, papaya, watermelon, coconut, pineapple, strawberry and pretty much any other fruit I sampled while globetrotting in Cartagena was damn delicious.
Photos by Metanoya Z. Webb exclusively for Globetrotting Stiletto Inc.