Sunday, 3 May 2015

Colourful Cartegena

Colourful streets of Cartagena
Cartagena provided a great escape and diversity after Bogota and Medellin. This old colonial city has an amazing energy and architecture which made us feel like we were back in Cuba. It is hot, colourful, vibrant and ecstatic. We checked into Hotel Villa Colonial which was organised through Martin from Buddha Hostel. It was a perfect place for a great value.

We were buzzing with energy and were ready to discover this incredible town. Our first stop was San Felipe’s Castle. It is a strong fortress built by the Spaniards with a complex system of tunnels. We visited the castle by ourselves but it might be a better idea to get a guide as there is very limited information about it's history on site.

Our next stop was the “walled city” which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an astonishing experience to walk around these colourful colonial buildings which brings you back in time. You can easily lose yourself in the narrow streets of the historical town, and wouldn’t want to be found again. Some of the highlights for us were the Plaza Boliva, Templo de Santo Domingo, the Gold Museum, and the Palace of Inquisition. 

We also visited the Mud Volcano “El Totumo” which is famous for its healing mud baths. It is an amazing experience to float in the mud where your feet can’t touch the ground. It was amazing. Here is a link to a Youtube video if you like to find out more.

In Cartagena, we caught up with Marian whom we met while volunteering in a zoo in Ecuador. Also our friend Mirren whom we met in Bolivia happened to be there. It was wonderful to see them again and hear about their travel tales. It is the beauty of travelling that you collect many interesting stories to tell and life never gets dull.

After a couple of fantastic days in this vibrant city, we took a boat to the Playa Blanca located in Baru Island. This is the ultimate Caribbean feel where you get to sleep in hammocks on the beach. The beach is very crowded when the boats from Cartagena arrive for a day trip but the place turns to a paradise when people return around 3 pm. We had great fish for lunch and rented some hammoks for the night. We met Hakan from Turkey and his girl-friend Anna from Russia and spent some time together chatting about travelling. 

After a romantic candle light dinner on the beach, I was ready sleep in a hammock for the first time in my life. Honestly, spending 8 hours in a hammock is not as comfortable as it seems. Although, I woke up with a sore back, I was happy to have the experience. 

During the day, we swam, sun bathed and simply relaxed on the beach. We decided to stay for another night in paradise. During our walk on the beach, we discovered a remote house, run by Fabio who was travelling for 3 years. We decided to stay there that night as it was far away from the other tourists. My second night in the hammock was better but still not great. We woke up with a beautiful sun rise and a light breeze from the sea. The best thing on this island is an early morning swim in the blue ocean. Pure bliss! As we left our camera in the hotel due to security reasons, we weren't able to capture the magnificence of Playa Blanca but here is a link to some pictures online.

We decided to leave Baru Island the next day as both of us were tired of sleeping in hammocks. Returning back to Cartagena on a speed boat was an adventure. Due to strong winds, we had lots of water coming into the boat and we got pretty wet. After an hour of excitement, we were happy to be back in our favourite spot in Colombia. We spent three more nights in Cartagena absorbing the culture, music and the Caribbean feel. It was hard to leave this magical place but we were looking forward to discover the infamous Tayrona National Park.

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