Written by Mia:
A visit to Cartagena de Indias was high on our list of must do’s in Colombia. The city was founded in 1533 and is a walled old town of 13 glorious square kilometers of quaint, narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful stone buildings with balconies and potted plants. It was built on the site of an old Carib settlement and is often called the pearl of the Caribbean coast. There was a fire in 1553 which encouraged the inhabitants to rebuild the city in stone to our delight today. The wall was inspired by the pirate sieges the city suffered, five in the 16th century alone, with the most infamous by Sir Francis Drake who was paid 10 million pesos on the promise not to level the the city to the ground.
The guide books tell you to just wander and that is basically what we did. And we loved every minute of it! We traveled with the lovely crew of Sugar Shack by bus to Cartagena on the day of their independence and we enjoyed the fiesta. There were happy people everywhere, a very colorful parade around the outside of the city wall and a fabulous buzz of excitement. And I think Teo would tell me off if I didn’t mention the “espuma” which are cans that shoot out foam like silly string. A teenage girl noticed the gleam of interest on Teo’s face and handed him one and told him to attack her boyfriend that were probably his favorite part of the day! There were espuma wars going on and Teo was right in the thick of it!
We stayed across the Independence Park from the Old Town and the area was full of fun places to eat, sleep and play. We loved checking out this area called Getsamani had a wonderful atmosphere and we wish we had been in early in the property market because it reminded us of Santa Catalina in Palma. It had a wonderful laid back atmosphere with funky bars, restaurants, hostels, street art and graffiti. We wandered through right before lunchtime the day after the party but it was shiny clean and quiet but still hummed with energy. Later we returned for a wonderful meal with Sugar Shack.
We were of course drawn back to the Old Town for another wander. We had cake for lunch a gorgeous place called Milas and otherwise wandered and took lots of photos. The buildings and especially the gates are painted wonderful colors and there are signs of care everywhere. Even the street vendors seem sweet. We stopped into many artisan shops, found a sweet shop where they were rolling lollipops by hand and spent time in a chocolate museum that was just a tasting palace with an assistant that wanted Teo to move in with her so he could help her improve her English and it seemed like a good deal since she promised to teach him Spanish, too.
We couldn’t leave town without a trip to the looming fortress and we had fun exploring the vigilant bodyguard of the city. The approach is jaw dropping and steep and we had fun with the stairs and tunnels, twists and turns. And by the way, those tunnels get dark, itchy ankles for me and nervous giggles from Teo. We loved our trip to Cartagena!