Cartagena Weekend

Cartagena Weekend

We exited the rear of our hotel, crossed the street, and walked onto the beach. It was mid-morning, the sun shining bright,  and the beach was full of life. I flipped off my sandals and immediately put them back on, realizing the sand was already  too hot for my tender bare feet. We were facing a seemingly endless beach and a sea of beach canopies, and beyond that the gentle Caribbean Ocean with its waves lapping the shore and the sound of laughing children. We weren't sure how to go about obtaining one of these beach canopies, but a young man soon came up to us, offered us a spot and promised to keep us supplied with cold beer. We agreed to his price of 40 mil and soon had our spot in the sun and a cooler of cold Aguilas. Welcome to Cartagena, Colombia's most visited destination.

 My wife told me to keep my mouth shut, and soon I figured out why. The many vendors plying the beach would target a foreigner very quickly, selling their souvenirs, food, and drinks. It wasn't long before a couple of  women came by. One of them sat her stool in front of me, grabbed my foot, squirted some oil on it, and started massaging. Okay, so they were selling massages. Gracias, pero no, I said repeatedly. My wife finally managed to chase them away, but then I started thinking that felt rather good. They knew what they were doing. When they came back around in a couple hours, I allowed them to give me a foot massage and I have to tell you it was very pleasant.


We decided to return to the hotel for lunch and our man agreed to keep our spot for us. And indeed, when we returned from a nice lunch, there was our spot, and we quickly had a fresh cooler of beer. We took a splash in the warm water, watched the antics of the young men getting drunk next to us,  and relaxed. And that's how we finished our first full day in Cartagena. Quite honestly, sitting on a hot beach in the sand lathered up with sun lotion, it's not usually my favorite way to spend the day, but Isabel loved it and we had a great time.  I was  relieved however  to leave the sun soaked beach, go back to the hotel to freshen up and have a nice dinner before heading into town.

Cartagena dates to Spain's colonial period in this part of the world and was a critical Spanish port city for trade and exploration. Due to frequent attacks by pirates, in 1614 they started building a wall and other fortifications that still stand to this day. The massive wall surrounds the historical center of the city that is full of beautiful architecture, restaurants, art, and souvenirs. However, after our day on the beach and a nice supper we were ready to check out some nightlife. We entered the old city at the clock tower and immediately spotted a pub. We entered the Clock Pub and discovered it had a bit of a British theme and served craft beer and that a band was going to be starting soon. We ordered a pitcher of beer, sat back and had a great time enjoying live rock music for the rest of the evening. And in fact, we enjoyed it so much that we went back the next night.

We closed out the pub LOL!

The next day we enjoyed some time around our hotel swimming pool, had lunch and then headed into the historic center of town. Along the narrow streets were colorful buildings, great architecture, museums, sculptures, and art. We were able to clamber atop the massive wall and stand beside the cannons overlooking the port. We took a break from the sun and went to a small cafe. I ordered an iced latte and ended up with one of the best layered cold coffee drinks I have had in Colombia.

Nearby, we encountered the Palenqueras, or the colorful fruit ladies that are iconic to Cartagena. Originally these Afro-Colombian women came from the nearby village of San Basilio de Palenqueto to sell fruit in Cartagena, but nowadays they come to pose for pictures with the tourists.

We were only in Cartagena for a short three-day weekend, so the next day we enjoyed our resort and swimming pool, a great breakfast and said goodbye to Cartagena. I don't know that I'll ever go back because there is so many more places to explore in Colombia, but I can highly recommend a trip to Cartagena.