72 hours in Cartagena, Colombia: My final three days of this journey were spent in Cartagena, Colombia. After landing we collected our luggage we were off to the Oz Hotel. The moment we exited the airport the feeling in the air was quite different than Medellin, it was more relaxed and after five days in Medellin it was a welcome change. The hotel was in a quiet neighborhood a few blocks away from the beach.
The neighborhoods are quaint with hotels, hostels, homes, markets and restaurants all blending together. Cartagena has the feel of a big town and not a city. It has a nightlife and its share of bars and restaurants but at no time does it overwhelm you and the few skyscrapers are along the shore. Once we’d unpacked we had dinner and walked along the shore on a star filled sky as our seventy-hour adventure began.
Our first full day was the hottest of the eight I’d spend there, it wasn’t humid it was hot, easily into the 90’s but we didn’t waste the day. But we persevered until we realized we were never going to make it without a taxi which took about ten minutes. Once we arrived and started walking we picked a restaurant to get out of the heat and we were both in agreement it was too hot to be outside we returned to the hotel and made our way to a beach lined up and down with people that were as hot as we were.
Cartagena’s skyline embraced the beach, hugging it. The two tallest building’s were a Hyatt Regency and an Intercontinental Hotel. There were a scattering of other high rises but most of the buildings were eight to ten stories or shorter. Unlike Bogota and Medellin Cartagena didn’t have the multitude of homeless either and it was quite clean as well. And you truly felt welcome with the people here ready to share all they could with you.
Just about everyone we passed on the beach all offered everything from a canopy to food. Up and down the beach wherever you turned they were there. There were also young men and just about every Colombian delicacy you desired. There were also young men playing soccer and a volleyball net as well. And you could drink beer and every now and then the scent of marijuana filled the air. But on this day it was all about being in the water. And on a side note as many believe the beaches of Cartagena are dirty, they are not the sand is dark sediment so the water is too.
Cartagena’s nightlife in mostly made up of bars with a few nightclubs and casino’s in between finding a disco will require some work but there are nightclubs out there. On this night we attended a huge party a top a building that faced San Felipe Castle’s. It illuminated the sky on this perfect star filled night as we drank a bottle of Absolut and danced the night away. It was a perfect night as we closed out our second full day. The men and women of Cartagena are just as friendly as the countrymen and women in Bogota and Medellin and we had a great time dancing the night away with them.
Cartagena’s ‘Old Town’ is the place we’d visit our last full day we made it to ‘Old Town.’ It is a maze of narrow streets lined with colorful homes, churches and monasteries and in between it all are restaurants and small stores. And in between are monuments dedicated to the men that have earned a place in Colombian history. The old town is surrounded by Las Murallas, the thick walls built to protect it against enemies. It was built towards the end of the 16th Century after an attack by Francis Drake. The wall took two century to complete because of storm and constant attacks from pirates. In 1796 it was completed twenty five years after the Spaniards were expelled. After a couple of hours there, we had lunch and returned to the Oz.
Later that night we went out for our last dinner as our seventy two hours in Cartagena were coming to end and my time in Colombia was coming to end as well. The next morning I’d begin ten hours of flying back to Boston and after the eight amazing days I’d just spent in these two amazing cities I’d do it all over again.