#AllinModerationTravels – Cartagena, Colombia

{ Our first view of the Caribbean – Isla del Encanto }

An old port city, once a key role in the administration and expansion of the Spanish empire and the target of pirate attacks, Cartagena now houses beautiful colonial buildings, historical fortresses, bougainvillea lined streets, and a multitude of museums, churches, centuries old art and sculptures, and plenty of fresh seafood!

This leg of our journey began with my sister and I almost missing our flight…. A typical 20 minute trip to the airport found us stuck in a Monday morning commute – leaving us to arrive at the airport with 20 minutes to spare. Did we make it? You bet we did! But not without a few white-knuckle moments.

The weather in Cartagena, much different than Bogotá. You go from temperate to tropical in an hour. We stepped off the plane to the tarmac, and were hit with 40C heat and almost 100% humidity. Let’s just say there wasn’t a day that would go by without constant sweat, for the rest of the trip. Air-conditioning was a must. 🙂 

Our first stop – check-in to Hotel Bantu – a delightful boutique hotel located in a converted colonial building in the heart of the Old City.  A charming place, with friendly and efficient staff, tasty breakfast, Toucan bartenders, and a rooftop pool! A perfect place to rest our heads. 

We quickly got acquainted, and went on search for a restaurant recommended to us by our guide in Bogotá, Diego. La Mulata was by far one of the best places we ate on our trip. The Ceviché incredibly fresh and delicious, the Limonada Coco (if you haven’t had one, you MUST) divine, and the staff – absolutely adorable. We may or may not have gone back to this restaurant 3 times in the 3 days we were in Cartagena. A definite must whilst in Cartagena. 

We continued the day touring the Old City, visiting the Church of San Pedro Claver, The Palace of Inquisition, and walking the wall that creates the city’s fortress. 

The nights are very romantic in Cartagena. The tourist shops close and what remains open are the art galleries. The quiet comes with the light clicking of horse hooves, from the drawn carriages lining the streets, and the faint sound of samba music from the lively plazas. Restaurants put out their al fresco dining tables, and street performers make their mark for the crowds. We found ourselves eating Argentinian steaks on our first night here, and were not disappointed. 

Day 2 was complete with a boat tour of Islas del Rosarios. We spent the day soaking up the Caribbean sun on the beach of Isla del Encanto, snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, and drinking cervezas. Not a terrible way to spend your first full day on the Caribbean. 

Day 3, our final day, found ourselves at the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. An interesting adventure to a mud volcano, complete with a rub down, and a surprise naked wash off in a nearby lake! Quite the shock when you haven’t even been bought a beer! 

Our final day finished with a few Cuba Libres – incredible in Colombia, SUPER lime-y – and some of the best Cevichés I have ever had at La Cevicheria. Anthony Bourdain does not lie. Multiple styles, all equally delicious. But the best. Conch…. yes conch (I’ve never really liked it…), squid, and the fish of the day, all mixed up with coconut and lime. A MUST. 

All in all, Cartagena was beautiful. Incredible history, beautiful architecture, delicious food – but was it a bit too touristy for me? Yes. Stay tuned though, the Caribbean in Colombia isn’t all that way. Santa Marta was next, and turned out to be absolutely incredible. 

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{ My sister on the wall – Cartagena and Cathedral San Pedro Claver in the background }

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{ The guillotine at The Palace of Inquisition }

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{ Rooftop pools, ceviché at La Mulata, Toucan bartenders, and Bougainvillea-lined street = Cartagena }

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{ Argentinian steaks, delicious mashed potatoes, and Chilean wine… yes, we are in Colombia! }

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{ The wall gate at Plaza de la Paz }

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{ Cathedral de San Pedro Claver }

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{ Our day at Isla del Encanto – snorkling, swimming, sun! }

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{ The volcano! }

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{ Happy face – post mud bath, pre naked wash down }

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{ Volcano Mud Bath! }

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{ La Cevicheria feast! And my Cartagenian cat Carlos }

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{ Exquisite fresh crab claws with a passion fruit dipping sauce. I want more! }

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{ Facebook: Bee-Individual }

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{ La Mulata. Limonada Coco. A MUST! }

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{ Lou the Tou-can, and I have coffee together }

XO

Ally

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