Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wrapping things up in Colombia & Venezuela

On my final night in Cartagena i went out for dinner and then to a La Casa del Habano cigar shop/bar in Gethsemani. It was fairly quiet when i arrived but i had a decent chat with the Manager who showed me bundles of tobacco to be rolled into Colombian cigars.

cigar shop, Cartagena
The smoking situation is Cartagena has been better than in Bogota. You still can't technically smoke inside, but with the weather being so beautifully tropical, there is no shortage of patios to smoke on; plus, you can smoke in cigar shops and there are at least three in the old city. There are lots of "Cuban" cigars being sold on the streets here and they are all fakes.  There are real Cubans for sale in the shops, but they are very expensive - as much as in Canada.

Here's a few more Cartagena pictures from my final day:

The next morning i flew back to Bogota and sent many hours walking around, doing a bit of shopping and finally killing time in doors when it got too cold and wet to be comfortable outside. That night i flew to Caracas.
flying from Cartagena to Bogota
I had a nine hour layover in Caracas, which would have been great had it been during the day, but we arrived at about 12:30 am. I thought initially i might stay at the airport and sleep on a row of chairs, but i realized that i probably needed some sleep if i was to be at all functional when i returned home and went right to work - plus, the airport in the middle of the night feels pretty sketchy. Not the sort of place i would feel comfortable sleeping in public. This is also what i determined reading accounts by other people who had been in the same situation. Indeed, the whole area around the neighborhood seems pretty dodgy at night.

Earlier in the day i did some hotel research and discovered that there are only two hotels near the airport and they are both very expensive.  There are other hotels in downtown caracas of course, but they are quite far from the airport and transportation is expensive. Anyway, I was too tired to look for creative or alternative options so i got a room at a fancyish business hotel about 10 minutes from the airport.  I took some colorful Venezuelan Bolivars out of the ATM and the next thing i knew i was in a tinted-windowed SUV being driven to the hotel. (the taxi ride: also expensive)

I checked in and had a restful, but brief sleep. The next morning i saw that the hotel was right on the caribbean and had lovely pools and patios. So i ate a an overpriced breakfast taking in the view before taking another taxi back to the airport.  From what i saw of the neighborhood on the drive back; it looked poor and unremarkable, but had lots of colorful Chavez graffiti and beautiful mountains. That was my brief foray into Venezuela.
graffiti, Caracas
my hotel pool,  Caracas
view of Caracas from airplane
After two more flights, i returned home. It was a quick trip, but i was able to pack a lot in and had a great taste of Colombia.  When i get around to it, i'll post some photos.

1 comment:

Betty-Lou said...

I love all your photos. Thank you for sharing.