After a day and a half of struggling to keep my breath in Bogota, Alex and I flew to Cartagena, a beach town on the Carribean Coast. The city was much smaller than Bogota (which has more people than LA). The old city of Cartagena is surrounded by walls built in the 1500s (didnt double check this date…not sorry). The walls were built to keep out pirates. Fricking pirates kept raiding the city so they just built walls around it. Thats technology. The entrance to the walled city is a beautiful yellow clock tower, which loooks like something out of a fairytale. Once within the walled city, the streets are narrow and many of the buildings adorn their little terrces with flowers. Bars, restaurants, shops, and plazas fill the streets.
Our hotel was located right outside the walled city in an area called Gestemani. Its considered a little more laid back and less touristy, and I thought the location was perfect. It was only a 4 minute walk to the entrance of the walled city, AND it was the red light districts….YES, HOOKERS!!!
After melting in the 95 degree humid sun (and taking a much needed siesta), I ate the best hot dog of my life before we headed to Cafe Havana. (Side note: Want to feel really pretty in a tight LBD??…Definitely eat a huge hotdog and drink four beers). Anyways, Cafe Havana is located in the Gestemani part of town, and it is a bar/club playing live music. We read about it on the web and in my guide book. A lot of times guidebooks will reommend a bar and say something like `Great spot full of locals, cheap drinks, and fantastic local music`. Then you get there and all of a sudden youre drinking an $9 watered down mojito with a bunch of other tourists bobbing your head to Rihanna. Luckily, this was not the case at Cafe Havana.
Instead, the club was packed full of people of all ages, from 17 to 87. Everyone was dancing to the incredible live band, and ice cold drinks were flowing like it was 95 degrees outside (wait, it was). Despite drinking our fair share of the most delicious mojitos, everyone else was completely drinking us under the table. The preferred drink of choice: a BOTTLE of rum.
Besides the top notch drinkers, Cafe Havana was filled with dancers cut out for So You Think You Can Dance. Dont worry, I kept up. I sipped my drink slowly and swayed my hips awkwardly like I owned the place.
The next day we asked our hotel concierge for some recommendations around Cartagena. He took us to the rooftop pool to show us a birdseye view ad pointed to all different parts of the city. He pointed to a peninsula, and said, `That is Bocagrande. I wouldnt recommend it unless you like beaches, dancing, and parties.` So thats exactly where we went.
Bocagrande was a 5 minute cab away from our hotel. Once we arrived, we found beautiful beaches full of a few tourists, plenty of locals, and even more street vendors. We rented a couple chairs, a table, and a beach umbrella from one of the vendors. He was our main man. If we wanted beers, he brought them. When I wanted the best pina colada on earth, he brought that. And when we got hungry, he brought us delicious arepas (grilled corn patties filled with queo or pollo…kind of like El Savadorian papusas). Besides our main man, there were people selling everything, from massages to oysters. Yes, we had both. No, not at the same time.
After bronzing our bodies to perfection (All Alex had to do was stay under the umbrella) and swimming in the Carribean, we headed back to the walled city for a delicious seafood dinner…BEST CEVICHE IN THE WORLD. And I am a ceviche enthusiast so thats a serious claim.
Our two nights in Cartagena were wonderful. The city had such a romantic ambiance. The old buldings, narrow streets, and cozy cafes seemed designed for couples to stroll hand in hand through. Just when I thought our trip couldnt get more picture perfect, we departed for Isla Baru the next day….