Exploring Cartagena

LOCATION:  Cartagena, Colombia
WEATHER:  Hot.  High 90

We are staying in a cute little AirB&B apartment.  Alexis was the person who turned us onto AirB&Bs; she rarely would stay in hotels.  We are in a building from the 1950s that used to be a famous hotel.  There is a sign on the front that says the Colombian President attended an event here when it was first built.  It has now been turned into apartments. 

The elevator is really old with this old-fashioned sign.

When you look up through the stairwell, it seems like infinity…

The best thing about the apartment is the view from our bedroom of the old, walled city in front, the high-rises in the back, and the Caribbean in the far back.

It has a little kitchen where we have our breakfasts…

And the living room has this beautiful picture that I would love in our house – with my orange decor!

We were off today to do a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour.  We do this in almost every city we visit, as a good way to get an overview. 

While we were waiting for the bus, George wandered off.  He does this quite often, and it scares me to death.  Today, I thought the worst – that he had been kidnapped.  He finally came back, telling me that he had just been taking photos of the bay.  And, he pointed out, that we were in the middle of some military installation and there were police all around us.  I was still mad! 

There are 3 cruise ships in town today, and the bus was packed with gringos.  Another tour bus disgourged passengers in front of us.  They had to climb through the windows and doors!

From the bus, the life on the street was interesting.  Street vendors sell everything!

We saw miles and miles of the wall that surrounds the Walled City (where we are staying).  About 500 years ago, the settlers used African slaves to build the wall to protect against invaders and pirates.

After the tour, we stopped in a little cafe and had arepas, a kind of thick corn tortilla filled with goodies.  I had the vegetarian – filled with plantains, avocado, tomato slices, and feta-like cheese.  George had a roasted pork one.  Arepas are considered the most typical food in Colombia.

We walked around the old Walled City, getting lost again in the maze of streets.  Lots of interesting sites..

Alexis and I shared a love of Spanish.  On our travels, I would always send her photos of funny signs in Spanish.  She would have liked this one….”Please don’t pee here”.    🙂

My friend Mandy told me that Cartagena reminds her of the 1984 movie “Romancing the Stone” starring Michael Douglas which was filmed here.  I learned on our tour today that Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of emeralds.  Interesting… As we were wandering around, I saw this jewelry store…

We finally found our apartment building again, and rested a bit in the heat of the day. Later, we walked down to the wall and joined a lot of locals to watch the sun set over the Caribbean…

Then, off to dinner.  We had spotted this interesting looking restaurant in the Walled City earlier today.  It is quite small – only about 10 tables.  It has a cool Caribbean-like decor…

I wasn’t very hungry so just had a salad.  Besides lettuce, it came with slivered carrots and avocado slices  ($1). 

George had the Sarcucho, another popular, typical Colombian dish.  It is a fish stew with very light coconut milk as the broth, with chunks of red snapper, yucca, and plantains, served with rice and avocado.

A good, and exhausting day!

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