If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram, you know that I’ve been in Cartagena, Colombia for the last week with my Dad. And here are my 10 favorite things about the vaca:
10. Rumba Chivas (not to be confused with the non-rumba, not-as-fun, during the day city tour chivas) – These Colombian party buses are the bomb.gov. I understood about 5% of what was going on because it was all in Spanish. But what I did understand was live music, singing, happy people, unlimited aguardiente (like a Colombian rum, means “fiery water” if you get my drift), maracas, a nighttime tour of the city, and a tricked out chevy truck. Definitely a must do in Cartagena. *Sidenote, don’t let the unlimited aguardiente fool you – this is definitely a family activity. There were kids on our bus, singing and getting it with the best of ’em. Call www.marytours.com to book the night you want to go- they leave around 8pm and again at midnight.
9. Castillo San Felipe – This huge fort in the middle of the city. I don’t know why this was so much fun, but it was. Like having a big, historical, my-size barbie playhouse to run around and play in. Or not. That didn’t really make sense, but still…
8. Playa Blanca (and the boat ride to get there) – So this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. If you know me at all, you know I am a total beach baby so it’s easy to see why. But it wasn’t just because of the white sand and the crystal blue/green water (I promise!). The boat ride there was pretty dope. I think that was my first time on a speed boat. I’m more of a yacht girl, myself. But it turned out to be so ridiculously fun. We stopped in a couple places along the way – once to snorkel, once so these little pirate kids could paddle up to us in their handmade wooden canoes (I can’t make this up) and ask for money, and then at this other island. So. Much. Fun. Just go to the Las Murallas between 8 and 9 am and there will be tons of people lined up to get you on their boat. You shouldn’t pay more that $40.000COP.
7. Quebracho Argentine steakhouse – Yum. my. (Also Expen. Sive. But worth it.)
6. Crepes y Waffles Restaurante – [Insert previous description here.] No but really, have you ever had a curry chicken crepe? There are just so many good restaurants in Cartagena. And even eating off the street (fried plantains, grilled corn, kebabs, arepas, empanadas) never disappointed. Oh and the jugo. I can’t forget about the fresh juices. The lulo juice, maracuyo, pineapple – all of it. I never drink concentrate, er, juice, here in the US but I couldn’t get enough of it in Cartagena!
5. Les Lezards Bed & Breakfast – This place was amazeballs! The breakfast deserves its own post. The location was awesome – in the Getsemeni neighborhood (which also deserves its own post as the best, most eclectic neighborhood in Cartagena). The owner, Marcus, was super helpful and knows all the best things to do in Cartagena. I guess you could say he deserves his own post, too. He is my new BFF and I will always stay there if I go back to Cartagena (unless of course I buy an apartment or something). I found it on airbnb. Check it out.
4. Biking through Cartagena – Another one of my favorite days. We rented bikes through Roda Bici Tours (fancy name for a family who rents bikes from in front of their house). Marcus hipped us to this place two blocks from the B&B in Getsemeni. We rode all the way to and around Bocagrande, to the castle/fort, along the beach, all through the walled city. At less than $2/hour, I’d say it’s a definite win!
3. Plazas – I was about to say Plaza de Trinidad, which is in Getsemenai (which I now consider my neighborhood) because there’s this awesome lounge/bar with rocking chairs outside. My dad and I posted up here frequently to take in the sights/sounds/smells of the plaza. They knew our drink orders before we even walked in. But then I was gonna change to Donde Fidel because of the music. Or Santo Domingo because of the energy. But I couldn’t pick just one. The squares are an awesome place to enjoy the relaxed style of Cartagena. Awesome people watching. Good (cheap) eats. So many plazas, so little time. Just find one and enjoy it.
2. Cafe del Mar – Hands down one of my favorite places. If we’d discovered this open-air bar/restaurant before our last night in the city, please believe we would have been regulars. It sits on top of the walls of the city and is the perfect place to catch the sunset (and a drink) with views of the Caribbean Sea and the skyline of Bocagrande as the backdrop. You HAVE to go here. Doesn’t open til 5. Just in time for dusk.
1. The Gift of (Slow) Travel– Of course this isn’t specific to Cartagena, but this was my Dad’s first time outside of the U.S. And it was amazing being able to watch him experience the wander of travel firsthand. We were in Cartagena for 6 days, 5 nights. We didn’t feel rushed. We had time for day trips. We got to take it all in at our own pace. We really feel like we know Cartagena. Considering the fact that my dad is now looking at property in Cartagena (no lie), it’s safe to say this has been THE best Father’s Day gift ever.
(I somehow made it through this entire post and didn’t mention nightlife – which Cartagena has plenty of. And this isn’t even including the parties in the plazas or the chivas. But check out La Habana – easily the best salsa club in South America. Yes, I said South America.)
What about you? Have you ever been to Cartagena? What would make your top 10 list?