A day of wandering the winding streets of colourful Cartagena

Yesterday our party of five enjoyed a leisurely seven hour bus ride from Santa Marta to Cartagena along the Carribean Coast of Colombia. It’s supposed to take four. But it was worth it for the beauty of this filmset-esque city, wow Cartagena is a sight.

A Botero? Let’s go with yes. Botero is a Colombian artist born in 1932. While I rate his sculptures, his paintings creep me out.

The old town is inside a high wall and literally looks like an Austrian/colonial/filmset/Chessington World of Adventures (but nicer). It’s so colourful! Walls are mint green, mid summer sky blue and ochre. Multicoloured bags and bangles are sold from the pavement and from wandering vendors. In fact, there are a lot of vendors selling everything from sunglasses to beer, it can be a bit much.

Arnab took this one….

Some of us are staying at San Roque Hotel, which is pretty nice. It’s 88,000 pesos a night (about $44 US dollars) for an aircon double. Some doubles have extra single beds in them which would make them really cheap. And some rooms are a bit weird. One has a pizza slice shaped bed.

If I eat enough pizza and fried Colombian food, I might need a bed this big one day.

It’s just outside the old town which keeps the price down. Laundry is 4,000 pesos a kilo which is normal and they do breakfast, although we didn’t get our act together in time to enjoy it!

The pretty courtyard

Upon exploring the old town, we visited the icecream shop first. Obviously a priority. Then wandered along the city wall before heading over to the Naval Museum. This is very interesting if you have a reasonable knowledge of Spanish. I stumbled my way through a few boards of info, then starting taking a lot of photos. Yes, this one is looking out of the window of the museum!

The view from the Naval Museum.

While Arnab tried to fix something on my camera, I took his walkies.

But the Navel Museum was well worth a visit.

In the evening we went to a gorgeous little restaurant called Malagana in Getsemini, the neighbourhood just outside the old town where many of the hotels and hostels are located. This area is pumping on the weekend! Music from every doorway, people on the pavements, drinking in the streets. Ask to sit on Malagana’s roof terrace three floors up. It’s small, cute with colourful floor tiles and candle lanterns on the tables. And the menu is western!! So no fried chicken and rice! (You have no idea what a relief this is.) Beware: the chips that come with the burger are crisps, not french fries. Good value though, only $2 US for a beer. It’s pretty chilled up there, eclectic music, enough room for about twelve seated cafe style.

Then we wandered over to Plaza de Trinidad. This square is a major hangout spot for young and old. If you don’t mind drinking $1 beers on the street and occasionally being hit by a softball (and flashed a grin by its 8 year old owner), then this place is your South American/Carribean flavour heaven. The older generation pull out their TVs and extention cords, find a box and a parkbench and put their feet up for some Saturday night telly. Right next to the footie. Street vendors sell steaming snacks of fried plantain and the atmosphere a perfect mix of raucous and convivial.

Later we went clubbing. Again beware: dress up. I was wearing cut off shorts and a T shirt – no entry for Caroline. I had to go home and get changed. To their credit, the girl running the show let me in free upon my return.

Here’s the gang. And then a photo from the eternally long bus ride to Cartagena. Kind of love it so am sticking it in despite it being from the day before.

Aquila is a pretty good Colombian beer.

An emergency sunset to cheer us up.

And now for day 2 of wandering. And some goodbyes.