The Walled City of Cartagena

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I’ve always had a deep appreciation for architecture, from a historical context.  This is probably why I fell in love with the Walled City of Cartagena.  Colonial style buildings line the streets in vibrant shades of pink, blue, yellow, and orange; varnished with wooden balconies and topped with adobe tile work.

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The Old City is definitely Cartagena’s most picturesque and popular attraction.  The only downfall for us were all the touts, trying to sell a ton of stuff nobody really wants to buy.

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The walls around the city were built in the 16th century, after the attack of Francis Drake.  As you drive along the outside, there are many openings in the walls where people climb in to seek shade from the hot sun, it made me wonder how many generations of people had been doing the same thing in the same exact places.  People are even able to walk on top of the walls.  Some areas are easier to climb to than others.

The walls also hold interesting street art, which we adored:

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This space is ideal for leisurely strolling and it’s easy to find a nice, cheap restaurant considering the fortress is full of them.  Many of their employees will be outside the doors urging tourists to come in.  All of our meals were around five dollars a day and that’s including a beer.

We ate at Ilsabe two days in a row, thanks to its daily specials which include a soup, main dish and two sides.

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We also enjoyed ice cream from La Paletteria, which serves gelato in the form popsicles.  As you can see from the photo below they come in many shapes and flavors.  Colombia actually has many places like this, especially in the malls, so we’ve tested several.

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The hotels the Walled City has to offer are all quite beautiful too, since many tourists visit.  We stayed at the Bastion Luxury Hotel, and from the moment we walked in and were served papaya juice, I was a happy camper.  The rooms felt classic and traditional, yet glamorous.  My favorite part had to be the rooftop pool, if there wasn’t so much to see in the city, I could probably lounge around the pool area all day.

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(With all our luggage in the lobby)

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(And here’s a peek inside the rooms)

Not far outside the walls stands Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.  Entry is about 8.000 pesos which isn’t bad for the views you’ll get of the city.  You can climb to the highest points or spend your time in the miles of tunnels that go beneath the castle; but it does get dark and a little hard to breathe down there.

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IMG_2991Locals know how many tourists this place attracts, so don’t be surprised when they’re at the entrance trying to sell you hats, jewelry, and agua.

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For an even better view of the city, check out Convento de la Popa, for about the same price as the castle.  It is the highest point of Cartagena you’ll be able to get to, but there’s not much to do here other than read about its history and take lots of photos of the world below…

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…like Fabes did, of course.

Here are some of my favorites:

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(I love the airplane going by in this one)

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The Old City is a charming and romantic place.  If you’re traveling to Colombia, a stop here needs to be on your to do list.  There was something about it that allured me around every corner and I felt safe roaming its streets day and night.

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