Cartagena - the final destination of our Colombian adventures. An old colonial post with the oldest port on South American soil. A colorful colonial town within the old city walls, a modern cosmopolitan city with skyscrapers outside the old city skirts. A tourist hub with a Caribbean feel and a hint of Cuban atmosphere inviting you to just wander the streets, escaping the steaming heat for an ice-cold lemonade or some real gelato.
Cartagena has it all - from luxury resort hotels to simple bed and breakfasts, top notch fusion cuisine restaurants to comida corriente, wealthy cruiseship tourists, middle class Colombian tourists and the usual backpackers - and they all blend in perfectly well here. One can easily dine one night in a boho-chic fusion cuisine restaurant on a little square in the beautiful old town for the equivalent of 20-25€ per person, the next day, on the same street, sit with the locals at a comida corriente place and have some "pollo con arroz" complete with a drink and a starter for about 4 €. It was the perfect location for the end of our trip since we could enjoy the best of both worlds for our last four days.
We stayed at Hotel Don Pedro De Heredia in the old town, a beautiful colonial building with a little pool in the patio and a roof top terrace (that, surprisingly, we always had to ourselves). A small room with aircon (absolutely necessary in the humid heat of Cartagena) was 60€ per night including a roof top buffet breakfast. The staff was super friendly and helpful and I can highly recommend this place. After all the trekking and hammocks, having breakfast at a table complete with table cloth and porcelain dishes felt like a real luxury to me!
On a little stroll through town - when my aforementioned obsession with colored murals reached a new maximum! :-)
The lemonade stalls - life-savers in the heat and humidity. Admittedly, these involve ice cubes and are sold on the streets so maybe not the best for a sensitive stomach. Felix and me firmly believe that after India we can eat and drink anything but you may reconsider if your stomach is not made of steel. They were the perfect refreshment though. Icy, fresh and not too sweet.
This is how I picture the streets in Cuba. Since it will take some more time until I get there myself I am glad I got to witness some Caribbean vibes in Cartagena.
Around Getsemaní, the backpacker district, boasting a lot of stylish coffee places and restaurants, as well as bars and the famous Havana Club. We had dinner at Gastrolab Sur on one night, a little restaurant within an art collective that offered some really great ceviche and cocktails at very reasonable prices and a great artsy atmosphere.
I loved every bit about our time in Cartagena and Colombia as a whole - the warm-hearted welcoming people, the beautiful nature and beaches, the old colonial towns, the music and the colors. I only saw a small part of this immense country and I can only hope I will find the time to come back one day and explore more of this wonderful place. Hasta luego, Colombia!