My son Brando moved to Greenport, NY in September last year to commence work at a winery and his gorgeous girlfriend, Liz, stayed in Melbourne, Australia to finish up her job before joining him earlier this year.
After four and half months apart they wanted to go somewhere warm to catch up before diving into the depths of a New York winter.
With year-round gorgeous weather, stunning beaches stretching hundreds of kilometres and just a five hour flight from NYC, Cartagena, Colombia fitted the bill perfectly.
They offered to write a guest post on their three weeks in Cartagena and beyond…meet Brando and Liz.
We reasoned that if Cartagena is muse-enough for the world’s literary master of magical realism Gabriel García Márquez, surely it would have a decent amount to offer two Aussie travellers looking to escape a NY winter.
Cartagena de Indias has been a base for Márquez throughout his literary career and, like the heady hold Fermina had over Florentino in the Cartagena-inspired “Love in The Time of Cholera”, this city will have you falling obsessively in love within moments of touching down. Well, it did us anyway.
With average year round temperatures of 27.7 degrees, a prime position on the Carribean Coast and one of the most well-preserved colonial old town’s in Latin America, there’s a lot to fall for.
Central to the UNESCO-listed city’s aesthetic are the inescapable bright colours. Royal purple bougainvillea hang over white-washed walls, contrast against pastel painted doors and pop against the postcard-perfect blue skies.
Have a look at some of the vibrant facades that make up the historical districts of El Centro and San Diego:
And just to ensure the colour spectrum is elevated another echelon, the door of every building seems to be painted yet another contrasting colour…
And every second door has a quirky door knocker crafted as either a lizard, a sun, a lions head or some other cute form like this one here:
Whilst Cartagena comprises several areas including the high-rise dense Miami-like Bocagrande, the highlight for us was unquestionably the old town. Fortified by thick walls or Las Murallas that were built in the late sixteenth century to protect the city from pirates and storms alike.
Cartagena is a rambling space of pristinely preserved colonial churches, bustling cobble-stoned plazas, crumbling mansions and tiny shops selling everything from coconuts, to antique treasures, jewel coloured woven baskets, dirt-cheap havaiianas and some of the world’s finest emeralds. Whether peering out to sea from the fort-like Las Murallas or down into a beautifully lit up plaza, there really is no such thing as a dull corner in this city.
Plaza De Sandiego
One of many horse drawn carts that ply the streets
View from Las Murrallas back into El Centro
Atop Las Murallas, there is a bar serving cold cervezas and icy mojitos and seating so you can let a few hours slip by gazing out to sea
The old cannons silhouetted as the sun sets
And a band complete with drummers, guitarists and saxophonists added to the entertainment
As we headed back into town we noticed the square had started filling up with people and street food vendors.
And the bars in the old town with people.
And a few hours later, when the bars couldn’t contain the people anymore, they just spilled out onto the street and continued to party on. We LOVE this city!
There is an understated cool in Cartagena from the street art, to the mini library on wheels, to the men playing chess in the streets or the kids baseball, and the toucan that landed on our table whilst having coffee at Hotel Santa Clara the city’s most exclusive hotel (note the Botero sculpture behind the toucan).
Even the garbo’s walk the streets in style…
And a close up look at our friend the toucan because he is so gorgeous
Speaking of friends, we met a few new ones in this welcoming city.
Children from the family home next to our hotel
This is what I think Brando might look like when he’s older
Special birthday treat from Hotel Santa Clara
The Palanquera women are always ready to pose
But some particularly helped make our trip extra amazing!
Wine guru Mileth. Donald, the best mojito-maker in the city, was very impressed with Brando’s dreadlocks and Gloria, who made us the most delicious breakfasts every day.
Marco, all round legend and owner of Casa Marco Polo, where we stayed in Cartagena. And fellow Aussie but now Cartagena resident Kristy Ellis. Kristy runs a little boutique tour company that can help you plug into the best this vibrant city has to offer so if you feel inspired to get travelling you can contact Kristy at Cartagena Connections
Well that was fun, our first ever blog post! Our follow up post will talk a bit about the food of Colombia and the amazing places we ventured to outside of Cartagena like Tayrona National Park and La Guajira peninsula.
Thank you Brando and Liz for a fun trip to Cartagena…I want to go! I can’t wait to see part 2.