Friday, May 02, 2008

Cartagena, Mi Querido

I enjoyed touring the streets of Bogota, but I absolutely loved Cartagena. The two cities are very different. Bogota is a huge, bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis. Cartagena is very old and quaint. As the Lonely Planet Guide to Colombia says "A fairy-tale city or romance, legends, and sheer beauty, Cartagena de Indias in as addictive place that can be hard to escape. This is a place to drop all sightseeing routines. Instead just stroll through Cartagena's maze of cobbled alleys."
As with Bogota, there were many, old Catholic churches. Here is just one of them. My daughter Alexandra and I also toured a mountain-top convent that had been restored beautifully. You can check out more Cartagena streetscapes and pictures of the convent on my Flickr website.

Settled by the Spaniards in 1533, Cartagena became their main port on the Carribean. As such, it became a prime target for English pirates. The Spaniards build a wall around the city and a massive stone fortress. We walked all around and inside the fortress. It was impressive, to say the least. Here are just two views. The Caribean Ocean (below) was gorgeous. This is the view right outside of the wall of the old town. Boca Grande, a more tourist-oriented and more developed part of Cartagena, has a beautiful sandy beach, more suited for swimming, sun-bathing, and bikini-watching. We stayed in Cartagena longer than Bogota and really enjoyed the nightlife--especially the salsa dancing at Quiebra Canto. As with the salsa club in Bogota, Quiebra Canto was a very small second story club with hot music and enthusiastic dancers. Since all four of us are seasoned salsa dancers, we fit right in with the Colombians on the dance floor.

We also enjoyed bargain-hunting and haggling in the open-air markets and the many small shops in Cartagena. On practically every street, there were mercados packed with great deals on everything from flowers, fruits and vegetables to clothes, suitcases and electronics.

Since it was the Christmas season, Cartgena was awash with lights at night. I took tons of time exposures of the lights and us at night. On the left is the view of a dance club that was across from the Hotel El Viajero, where we stayed. On the right is Jorge cartwheeling near the bay.

As a true-blue Leo, I just had to end my Cartagena post with this picture of the "Casa Leo" in Old Town. As mentioned above, there are many more photographs of Cartagena and our Colombian adventures on my Flickr website.