A Travellerspoint blog

Cartagena – Different Strokes…!

sunny 32 °C

When the ‘flight attendant’ on our 5 hour bus journey from Salento to Medellin gave us the full emergency briefing and handed out sick bags we knew we were in for a rough ride. Driving in the Andes on narrow mountain roads clogged by innumerable trucks is something of a stomach churner – but we were fine. Flying from Medellin to Cartagena on the other hand was as smooth as silk, but as we stepped off the plane we walked into a sauna. Although North America seems trapped in another Polar Vortex, we’re feeling the heat here in the narrow colonial streets and elegant plazas of old Cartagena…
The current fortified city was founded by the Spanish in 1533 in order to ‘liberate’ the gold from the indigenous locals. British privateer Sir John Hawkins, (no relation as far as we know), failed to capture the city in 1568, but his nephew Francis Drake succeeded two decades later and then demanded a king’s ransom. The King of Spain paid dearly and surrounded the city with 11 kilometres of defensive walls to keep the Brits at bay…
The fortified clock tower still offers a photogenic entrance …
Cartagena is just bursting with museums, churches and picturesque town houses – most with elaborate balconies dripping with tropical flowers…
It is a pretty place and we spent a couple of days wandering the relatively peaceful streets and lanes before the cruise ships arrived in force and laid siege. When the cruisers are in port the police block off the roads to traffic, the touts come out in force and the old city and its laid back citizens take on a different personality…
But once the cruise ships have followed the sinking sun into the western ocean the parks and squares of the city rejoice with Caribbean rhythms in the warm tropical evenings…
However, beyond the walls of old Cartagena there is another world – an isthmus of scrubby sand where the all-inclusives and multi-starred hotels offer European service at North American prices to jet-setting sunseekers looking for a quick tan…
And, as with so many places blessed by sun, sea and sand, Cartagena is at risk of being blighted by its own success. Different folks enjoy different strokes, and while we’re not here for the beach or the endless studios and jewellery shops all promoting the local emeralds, we appreciate that when the thermometer hits rock bottom in the north the Caribbean coast of Colombia is a great place to take off the chill. It is a gem of a city that has something to offer everyone…

Posted by Hawkson 13:44 Archived in Colombia

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Ah, the colours, I can almost feel the warm sun..oh wait, nope, it's -30 today in Winnipeg. So, I was being envious of the west coast (flowers in bloom all over the place) until I saw your pics! Anyway, will try and pull the warmth from your pictures..
love ya's

by Sharron

What a treat for the eyes. Makes you want to get out the paint brush. Let's see what colours will you paint your house when you get home.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Wonderful contrast--the parade of unsmiling tourists and the joyful dancing in the square.
The Cuban wanderers are back. Lots of good stories.

by R and B

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