Cartagena de Indias

After the bachelor party, I took a flight to the city of Cartagena. A major port founded in 1533, located on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region

I went to the hotel where Sarah was already waiting, as she arrived the day before with Erin and Jen.  We were happy to see each other!!

Without wasting more time, we went to explore this beautiful city.

Cartagena was strategically located between the Magdalena and Sinú rivers and became the main port for trade between Spain and its overseas empire, establishing its importance by the early 1540s.

They sell a lot of dried fruit candies.

In 1984, Cartagena’s colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We stopped at a local outside eatery to enjoy some local beer “Poker” and catch up about Medellin and the girl’s previous day.

Erin knew about a famous Empanada stand around the area. We actually were able to find it and tried this delicious local snacks.

We kept walking towards the city fortress, but it was soo freaking hot that we stopped at the mall for some air conditioning. There was this little stand that sold green mango, it was extremely sour, no idea how people eat this stuff.

The fortress is on the other side of the city and easily reachable by foot.  The girls were hating me for taking them to see some cultural stuff, if it was for them, they will be sipping a cocktail and eating ceviche in a cute cafe. But that is what they get when traveling with Eitan!!

The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (San Felipe de Barajas Castle)  is located on the Hill of San Lázaro in a strategic location, dominating approaches to the city by land or sea.

It was built by the Spanish during the colonial era. Originally built in the mid-1600s, it was rebuilt and enlarged several times over the years to become the greatest fortress Spain ever built in the Americas.

English Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon, fresh from a victory at another Spanish port at Portobelo, Panama, literally ran into a stone wall at Cartagena in 1741 when he tried to invade the city. He showed up with a force of 23,000 men and 186 ships bristling with 2,000 cannons, but Castillo San Felipe — defended by just 3,000 Spanish troops and six ships — stood off a month-long siege of the city.

The Spanish victory at Cartagena was one of the greatest defeats of the Royal Navy. Also red-faced after the battle were 4,000 American colonists from Virginia who fought for Admiral Vernon under the command of Lawrence Washington, half-brother of George Washington.

There was a video that was so cheaply made, which actually made it extra interesting to watch,

The fortress has multiple tunnels that connect different parts.  These were built as escape routes and also to stock munitions.

We climbed to the top to enjoy an amazing view of the city.

The pretty lady.

We had enough of history and the sunset was about to happen, so we started to walk towards the famous Cafe Del Mar.

This amazing restaurant/bar is set along the city fortress walls.  The construction of the Walls of Cartagena, an effort mounted to defend the city from possible pirate attacks, lasted nearly two centuries, with construction ending in 1796. The historic center is surrounded by seven miles of these imposing stone walls, complemented by fortifications and bastions, from which you can watch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

We got a nice table and some cocktails while we enjoyed the sun going down.

The food at Cafe del Mar was very shitty, so we found a tapas and wine very small bar where we ate this delicious platter.

The city main plaza becomes alive at night. This magical city offers a photo opportunity in every corner.

The Cartagena cathedral is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

We went to sleep as we were exhausted from a long day sightseeing. The next day we visited the San Bernardo Islands where we spend one night (another post). On the way back, we had another half-day in Cartagena.

Colombia’s diverse population reflects its colorful history. Mestizo make up 58 percent of the population, white 20 percent, mulatto (mixed black and white) 14 percent, black four percent, mixed black-Amerindian three percent, and Amerindian one percent. After the abolition of slavery around 1819, a national ideology of mestizaje encouraged the mixing of the indigenous, European, and native Amerindian communities into a single mestizo ethnic identity.

There  are a bunch of local woman with traditional dresses. Some of them let you take a photo with them for a few bucks. Sarah with her new learned skill of balancing fruit on her head. A true local.

The city’s history includes its role as a center for the Spanish Inquisition and as a major slave market. It saw expansive development in the eighteenth century as the de facto capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Cartagena became the main hub of commerce and transportation in the late viceroyal era, and continued as a seat of commerce into the modern era.

We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. This is where we started noticing the trend that the food in Colombia was not that good. We really tried several local dishes during our vacation, but we were disappointed by most of them.

We continued walking without a destination. Getting lost in this type of cities is fun!

There are a couple of interesting restaurants.

We ended up at “Las Bovedas” . The cells of these former 18th-century dungeons now feature shops selling colorful souvenirs.

We were going to meet Erin and Jen again, so we walked all the walls back to our hotel area.

We sat down to eat some delicious ceviche and we even got to try a Colombian craft beer!

The arepa de huevo is practically an institution in Cartagena. Thicker than your average arepa, it is stuffed with egg and ground beef. It’s a popular Cartagena breakfast on the go, and with lots of grease, a pretty good hangover cure as well. The arepa de huevo is also a great mid-afternoon or late night snack. They can be bought from mobile vendors or, even better, from street side fry stalls. Of course, we tried one!

We walked to Gestemani neighborhood, where the backpackers are located and the nightlife was supposed to be great. The problem is that we went on a weekday, so it was practically a ghost town. We enjoyed the amazing murals in the area instead.

The next morning we had a couple hours before leaving for the airport. We took advantage of this time to visit the area of Bocagrande.

This area is where all the nice hotels and modern apartment buildings are located. Unfortunately, the beaches are not that nice, so it really defeats the purpose of staying in one of these buildings.

We went to see the Hotel Caribe, they have wildlife in here like sloths, deers, and monkeys!.

And that was it from this amazing, beautiful city.  We went to the airport to take a flight to the coffee region of Salento!!

Bonus Pic of The Day:  In Cartagena, you can buy “Big Ass Ants” to eat as a snack. They look nasty, so we passed this time!!

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