I am writing about this little city because it is the last big trip I went on with my family and the first trip with my daughter out of the country. We traveled to Cartagena for my brother-in-law’s wedding last May. The town was such a surprise, a little enclosed jewel located on the northern coast of Colombia on the Caribbean.
Cartagena was “discovered” by the Spanish in 1533, but indigenous people date back to 4000 B.C. A strategic site for trade due to its large port, Cartagena was under constant threat of invasion for centuries. This finally led to multiple forts and a wall being built around the city. We stayed in Old Town, behind the walls, with beautiful Colonial architecture surrounding us. Our hotel, Hotel Boutique Las Carretas, was an old colonial building, outfitted with modern conveniences with a rooftop pool overlooking a romantically dilapidated, ivy-covered building next door. Our balcony gave view to the narrow cobblestone streets where you could hear the trotting of horse-drawn carriages with tourists in tow. The service at the hotel was top-notch. Our concierge noticed it was our daughter’s birthday from her passport and arranged for a cake and balloons to be delivered to our room. It was truly charming.
We were only there for five days, but we could have easily occupied ourselves for two weeks weaving in and out of the little village streets, shopping, and eating our way through the city. The Del Rosario archipelago lies just off the coast, so island-hopping is another fun option to spend your day. Word of warning, I would strongly suggest you speak Spanish, or at least have a friend fluent in the language traveling with you, as outside of our hotel, the people did not speak English. Also, make sure the boat you charter to go island-hopping has life jackets on board for everyone, or bring your own – the same laws that govern our safety in the U.S. do not always apply in foreign countries.
So with that, please enjoy my photos…