Happy Holidays! This month’s newsletter is a recap of my fabulous trip to Cartagena Colombia!I knew going in that this would be more of a cultural vacation rather than a relaxing one so although I am exhausted as I type this it is well worth it.
I have so much to say and so many pictures so this will be a two part with an Out the Box on Christmas gift’s for travelers.
We stayed in a boutique hotel in the Getsimani neighborhood, which is maybe a ten-minute walk to the walled city. It’s a cool area with plenty of bars and restaurants. Take a walk and you’ll encounter some great photo opportunities for the famous street art and bright buildings.
We were at the Armeria Real Hotel and stayed in the deluxe room which looked like a former loft apartment in another life. The first floor had a bedroom, TV, desk, fridge and half bath. The open second floor had a bed TV, couch and full bath. There is also a rooftop pool, spa and breakfast (which was just ok) was included. Everyone there was very nice and helpful. Our concierge for the stay even gave my mom a present (where was mine?)
We started with a Hop on Hop off bus which is a great intro to the city and my usual thing to do on arrival.
That night we went to Resturante Internohttp://restauranteinterno.com/. Here you get an excellent and sophisticatedthree course meal prepared and served by women serving time at a minimumsecurity prison (think Orange is the New Black). They were friendly and gaveexcellent customer service. With this concept some can now take a new skill setwith them upon release.
You must do a tour with http://experiencerealcartagena.com/Alex Rocha, especially if you are a person of color. Alex isAfro-Colombian and gives a wonderful history of the area from the perspectiveof a black person. We went to visit the UNESCO protected Palenque, which is the only African village in the Americas.Settled by escaped slaves, the towns people hold on to African culture and stillspeak a version of Bantu. This is a town that could still use help financiallyand I was glad to get an opportunity to visit.
That night my friends and I did a party bus via Alex but it was a contracted out trip so it’s the same party bus company you see throughout the city.
Skip the party buses.
I thought it would be more of a bar crawl on a bus type of thing. Nope, you’re on a bus, they play music, give you some cheap drinks and end it at a club. I was with a good group which made it fun and we did out own thing at the end.
We had to do the mud volcano. I didn’t care for it but I think that has more to do with me and the day we went than anything else. We chose a Sunday and arrived around eleven a.m. My suggestion is do a weekday, either very early or later. It’s a bit treacherous to climb up the steps and down to get to the volcano so this may not be for everyone.
Being inside was also weird. You have men inside who can give you a massage for the equivalent of less than $2. I passed because I wasn’t convinced they were professional (seemed more like strange men feeling all over you). You also can’t feel the bottom (because…volcano) so it was an odd feeling to just float in a pool of mud.
Once I got down the steps, while saying prayer the whole time, we went to a lagoon where women cleaned us off with water for another $2. That part was fine.
At the end of the mud trip, our tour took us to Manzanillo beach for lunch which was nice. The beach wasn’t crowded but there were still a few vendors.
We did a Cartagena half day tour which was part walking and part air-conditioned bus. I really enjoyed this tour. We got to walk around Getsimani and the Walled City. We also got to really explore the San Felipe de Barajas Castle which is a must and with a tour guide.
Next post: Nightlife and some tips for your visit.
Out The Box:
Part one of Christmas gifts for the Traveler in your life.