Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Arrival in Cartagena

Greetings from Cartagena. I arrived at about 11am on a flight from Bogota (1.5 hours). I took a short taxi ride into the old city and checked in to my hostel: La Casa de Chicheria.

living room, La Casa de Chicheria, Cartagena

pool, La Casa de Chicheria
The part of Cartagena i am staying in is the old city, which is the historic part, which is separated from the sea and the new city by thick, stone walls. The old city, is stunning. Colorful two-story buildings with balconies spilling forth flowering vines and plants. The city is dotted with lovely squares with large, stone churches and palm trees. Everywhere are fruit vendors and sellers of jewelry and souveniers. On the squares are restaurants with tables perfect for people watching and enjoying a coffee and cigar. It is quite stunning.

Cartagena is very different from Bogota. First of all, it is tropical.  It has been raining today, but the air is warm and thick with humidity and parrots call out from the trees. Cartagena is also much more touristy than Bogota. There are souvenier shops and hawkers of every variety and tour guides trying to convince you to take their tours. People here speak English, not most people, but certainly those who are trying to sell things. As a result of the touristiness, it is also very clean and beautiful relative to Bogota. It is also more expensive - still affordable, but there are not a lot of $2 meals in the old city. There is another part of the old city, called Gethsameni, which has all of the beauty of the more touristy part, but is a bit less touristy, and the buildings and streets a bit more crumbly. This area has most of the hostels and cheaper bars and restaurants.

I discovered all of this on my preliminary walk around the city to get my bearings. Unfortunately this was in the rain, but it was warm, so i did not mind.

Happily, i stumbled across a cigar store and went inside. I bought a small cigar and sat with the proprietor who poured me a rum. We chatted about cigars for a while. It was very pleasant.

I can tell already that one could easily explore the whole old city in a day, so i shall pace myself. There are a few places just outside the city to see, but i shall wait for the sun to come out before i venture to one of the many beachy islands.

Right now i am hanging out at the hostel for a bit before hunger drives me outdoors. I'll surely write again later, as there is more to say. Later.
fruit vendor

1 comment:

Betty-Lou said...

I have been checking for your first post from Cartagena. It sounds wonderful and I wish I was there. It is raining here too but the rain on the Caribbean coast sounds better than rain here. Street vendors you say? Selling jewelry? I would love a pair of hoop earrings.