Back in 2009, a friend gave me an option of visiting Colombia or Honduras for his birthday. The obvious choice to me was Honduras and this was because of Colombia’s violent image and my 24 year old naiveté. Fast forward to today and I have been to Colombia twice with plans to return next year.
Cartagena is a city the sucks you in as soon as you arrive. The bright colors, the warm people, the colonial architecture and the food were enough to add this city as a staple on my travel list. There are so many things that I absolutely fell in love with in Cartagena, but I think that more than anything it was the energy of the city.
While in Cartagena we stayed inside of the old city, which means we were inside of the walls – a reference to the colonial walled city and fortress which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Aside from a day trip to Playa Blanca we never left the comfort of those walls because there was so much to see and do within them.
The colorful buildings that riddled the center of the city were like an addiction for me. I couldn’t help but stop in front of multiple walls while we walked around the city. This is one of the most picturesque cities that I have ever been to.
The food. Oh the food. We did not have one bad meal while we were in Cartagena. We visited a small shop named Quero Arepa, which offered a variety of options of the popular local dish arepa. The shop’s owner stopped us on the street and convinced us to eat there. We were thankful he did. The arepa was delicious. I went with the vegetable option that was very fresh, though if I had to order it again I would ask them to hold the cheese. He had a number of options for fresh juice to wash down our food. Our favorites were the strawberry and mint.
By far the standout culinary experience was at Demente Tapas Bar. The bar, which is located in the popular Getsemaní neighborhood, is located on the popular Plaza de la Trinidad. The ambiance of the space draws you in with its dark and sexy feel. The blend of concrete that flows through the interior and exterior spaces combined with the perfect lighting makes this a must to visit restaurant if you step foot in Getsemani. The outdoor space is accented by exposed brick and white lights. The amazing food and extensive cocktail list seal the deal. The Langoustines in a tamarind sauce was definitely my favorite with the beef tenderloin coming in at a close second.
As far as the nightlife, we were not able to experience it as we wish we could’ve because we were there during a dry weekend. During certain weekends that precede elections, the entire country goes dry! A little bit of charm helped me to convince an older man running a liquor store to follow me into the back and stuff a bottle of rum into my purse.
Although no clubs were open during this weekend we entertained ourselves by people watching in the piazzas and while seated on the walls of the fort. We also danced salsa with some locals!
If you are looking for more things to do in Cartagena I found the website “This is Cartagena” to be very useful and very comprehensive.