CARTAGENA MOMENTS, PART 1

It’s funny, this trip recap comes quite a few months after my trip. And yet, it is still as vivid in my mind as if it were just last week. I shared previously a teeny bit of my trip in the form of a recap of the lovely hotel I stayed at.  But it’s time to talk a bit about my actual stay and how the city made me feel.

We landed in Cartagena rather early in the day, it was delightfully warm, the good kind of warm, not humid.  The drive from the airport was relatively brief, about 3.5 miles into the Old City (aka Old Town).  Just driving along the coast, feeling the breeze and seeing the Caribbean Sea was definitely exhilarating. As we approached Old City, we could see the fortified walls that surround the historic center. The construction of the Walls of Cartagena was an effort mounted to defend the city from possible pirate attacks. The historic center is surrounded by seven miles of these imposing stone walls, from which you can watch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea. Something we managed to do on 2 of our 3 nights there.

After checking in and getting refreshed, we were ready to set out and explore the town. I highly recommend on day 1, to allow yourself to get lost a little. I always use my first day as an opportunity to roam freely, to find out what surprises lay ahead. I save any detailed itineraries for the days that follow. Reason being, that sometimes you think you know what you want to do and what you’ll find interesting. Interestingly enough, once you get somewhere, once you step away from guidebook or popular tourist attractions, you might be surprised at what holds your attention. You can then make a note of unplanned places you would like to return to and you can squeeze that into your preplanned itineraries. In some cities, I actually jump on a free tour- they usually cover a lot of ground in a little time and its good for bookmarking sights that require further exploring in detail.

So for Day 1, we walked and took pictures, we admired the lovely streets, and aged painted walls that give Caratagena her distinct look and feel. I do have to say, it reminded me of a much bigger Casco Viejo in Panama. When we were hungry, we decided to peek into small local restaurants, nothing fancy, just the spots that seemed packed with locals. And it was using that method that we found a small super casual but somewhat larger and slightly more upscale that your every day “hole in the wall”.  we took another look around and noticed that almost every single table had the same bowl of soup. So when the server arrived, we just pointed and said- we’ll have what they’re having. This soup made was literally the best meal we had the entire trip. We later found out that it was a Sancocho soup. Sancocho soup turns out to be a fave in the region (Central & South America) and one that you can get at most places. It is a somewhat thicker and heartier soup made up of a base of chicken, pork or beef rib, oxtail or fish. Vegetables are then added including plantain, potato, cassava, corn-on-the-cob, tomato and cilantro. Our Sancocho was served with avocado, lime and white rice on the side.

I would love to say that I saved the name of the restaurant, but it’s one of those things that was so unplanned. We even tried retracing our steps on the last day and just couldn’t. I’m sure we would have eventually found it if we had more time.  But that’s the great beauty in just going with the flow.  You never know what you’ll find or better yet what you’ll eat. 

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2.

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