Romancing the Stone: Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (Part I of III)

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Photos by Barbara J. Rosen and SJRG

I just got back from a lovely 5-day vacation with my mother in Cartagena de Indias, Columbia and it seemed like a good topic for my first blog post in 2 years.  Cartagena is a Caribbean beach resort city, aptly described by the Michelin guide as a “colonial jewel.”  It is considered the safest place in Colombia because of the large tourist industry and the 2,000 police that are employed there to keep it that way.  The main attraction is the colonial walled city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I’ve visited many places that are known for their multi-colored historic buildings (Burano, Italy; Charleston, SC; La Boca, Buenos Aires), but none were as charming as Cartagena.  The buildings were decaying a bit, but not so much as to look decrepit and not so overly bright as to look Disneyfied.

We stayed in Bocagrande, which is an area with a lot of hotels and high-rise buildings from the1980’s that were built for tourist packages.  My mother chose the Hotel Bahia in Bocagrande because she wanted AC and a pool, which is a rare combo in the walled city.  Initially I was disappointed that we weren’t staying in the historic area, but I ended up being very happy with the accommodations.  The walled city was less than 10 minutes away by taxi and the ride cost a set rate of 6 pesos (about $3.50 USD).

Five days was more time than enough time to explore Cartagena, but it was too short to visit some of the other cities I wanted to see in Columbia (Bogotá and Medellín required flights or possibly unsafe and super long bus rides).  And while we saw almost everything there was to see, Cartagena was so relaxing and beautiful that we would have gladly stayed longer.  Tomorrow I will continue my Cartagena travel series and describe some of the fun things we did there.

p.s. I was planning on watching Romancing the Stone when I was in Cartagena, but apparently Netflix instant is only available to viewers in the USA and territories.  I finally saw it when I got home and I was quite disappointed because it was actually filmed in Mexico (and the story was ridiculous!).  I read the movie was supposed to be filmed in Cartagena, but kidnappings in Columbia were high at the time so production was moved.

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