I had the pleasure of visiting Cartagena, Colombia in the first month of 2017. After visiting Panama last year, Colombia was added to my must visit list as I have continued to fall in love with Spanish architecture, the old school luxury and warmth.
You don’t need to visit for a long time to enjoy the city, a good three or four days would do. Explore the city, check out the mud pit volcano and swim in the blue waters of the Rosario Islands.
We landed in Cartagena and went through customs quickly considering how packed the room was; got my entry stamp and was sent on my way. People scam in Colombia so be prepared to say NO a lot or no dinero. That said, we got our taxi ticket and five of us were shuttled to Armeria Hotel for $20usd.
We stayed in the old city so we were surrounded by old Spanish architecture, great restaurants, vendors and those infamous walls.
Because we never have time to waste when traveling, we immediately showered, changed and headed for the heart of the old city. Looking for food, we went to Le Cevicheria to taste the best South American ceviches. We waited 30 minutes before getting a table because it’s always packed, so try to make a reservation before you go. We ordered a seafood paella that was topped with two large grilled lobsters seasoned and buttered to taste. The food at Le Cevicheria was AMAZING to say the least.
After dinner, we headed to Alquimico for a drink on their rooftop. Lucky for us, Bespoke from NYC was there for the first three months of the year and we got a pitcher of their creative cocktail goodness.
Our next morning started with a trek to the El Totumo Volcano, where we would bath in a mud pit volcano.
The volcano is a relatively quick 45-minute bus ride from Cartagena’s Old City. We paid our taxi driver $75usd to take us there roundtrip and paid $3usd to purchase a ticket from the hustling locals. I argued with them the first time and climbed up on my own but this is how they make their money so I figured $3usd wouldn’t kill me LOL.
If you’ve done jouvert then you would be used to the wetness of the volcano but the sinking feeling I experienced while soaking was different. When I first entered, I was unable to control my mobility. Thankfully I started floating and relaxed enough to let the mud feel soothing.
After your soak, you walk down to a river where you can rinse all the muddy goodness off (local women are there to help rinse you off, for a fee of course). After we were all clean, we jumped in our taxi to get to the hotel to bath and change. Once ready, we headed out to explore the city.
We came across some pretty bags being sold by local vendors, coffee bean shops, gelato, cigar shops, you name it.
There is an ancient luxury to Cartagena that I truly enjoyed; you could also see how poor the locals live by the quarters of the city they are restricted to. Women walking around with their kids begging for a $1 is not uncommon.
We ate our dinner on top of the wall that evening and while I didn’t eat much, I enjoyed some delicious yucca fries.
The next day was my favorite because, BEACH DAY! We took a 45 minute boat ride to the Rosario Islands. We opted for a private beach (because Baru and Playa Blanca are COVERED with pesky vendors and tourists) The scenery was very relaxing, we were served lunch and were well taken care of.
Cartagena, while surrounded by beaches, does not have the cleanest water. You can get wet but it’s not where you would want to lounge around all day. Schedule a day to visit the Rosario Islands, it’s worth it. I organized our day trip through Colombia Eco Travel Group.
Heading to the beach was a breeze, I slept the whole way there – coming back was a different story. The captain was speeding and the water was extremely choppy, I felt like I was on an episode of the Catch. Not a good feeling if you have motion sickness.
Our last evening was spent bringing in Sajdah’s 30th birthday at Alma. Their food was AMAZING! And so filling, I couldn’t even finish my food. The service was also impeccable, and yes, I would travel back to Colombia just for this meal. We eventually ended up at Eivissa and created our own party. The DJ played dance hall and some hip hop tunes for us.
Our last full day, we had breakfast at the cutest restaurant called Oh La La , where we continued to celebrate Sajdah. I had an amazing time in Cartagena, the city treated us well, my skin glowed the entire time and I enjoyed my girls while we were there. Add Cartagena to your list if you haven’t been already.
Until next time, Cartagena