Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cartagena - Colombia's Caribbean Crown Jewel

After spending a week in the splendid capital Bogota we continued our journey to Colombia's Caribbean coast.
Cartagena de India is literally worlds away  from the Capital - climate, landscape, mentality, even Spanish is pronounced here in quite different.
The city was founded in 1533 by the Spaniards and become soon wealthy and powerful and turned therefor into an attractive plunder for pirates and corsairs.
For defense purposes, mighty walls and forts were built around the city and are still well preserved today.
The infamous Sir Francis Drake, a pirate in the service of  Queen Elizabeth the I. managed to conquer the city for a short time and marauded the place with his cronies.
Contemporary Cartagena is actually like two cities in one. There is the historic center, dating from colonial times and perfectly preserved and the modern part of the city with construction sites everywhere and a Skyline that resembles Miami.
Skyscrapers are pushing forward, setting limits to urban planning and the tropical way of life.
However, the rhythm of life seems relaxed, people are friendly and time is relative. You master it and don't allow time be your master.
Music is omnipresent in the streets. Caribbean sounds in one corner, Cuban Salsa in another one.
I was surprised by the Cuban presence here: Salsa, Cuban Cigars, Cuban restaurants everywhere until someone explained to me that most of Cubans here where immigrants who came via Venezuela to the nearby Cartagena.
The city's colonial heritage is charming and very much alive and we had lots of fun discovering sounds and sights.

Pegasus horses overlooking the harbour

A glimpse over the walls

Unspoiled beaches

For the romantics: a drink at the patio of the Monasterio Santa Claro Hotel at night.

Do not disturb: taking a nap in the middle of nowhere

Snow white sand and turquoise water

Taking a sunset drink at Café del Mar, on the walls of the old city

Strolling through beautiful colonial streets

The perfect balcony for Romeo & Julia

Jazzing up the evening

A building dedicated to the National Beauty Pageant. The whole week of competition  is a holiday and Cartagena comes to a standstill for a few days every November.

 View from our hotel pool over the harbor

Modern Cartagena

For the romantics: Dinner at Club the Pesca restaurant

Enjoying a gorgeous seafood risotto

A city of contrasts: beautiful old patio from colonial times

Cuban live music at a restaurant

A piece of heaven at Manzanillo beach

Cheers, hope you enjoyed the visit

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