October 17 - 21, 2008
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Friday we flew 1 hour from Bogota to Cartagena. The flight was very interesting as we flew over a huge flood plain that is part of a large river system that drains into the Caribbean. Cartagena is a fairly big city (over 1 million) on the north coast of Colombia on the Caribbean, east of Panama. After a short break at the hotel we were picked up by our local guide for a visit around this interesting old city. The city was a busy place in the early 1500’s and an important place for the slave trade in the Caribbean.
We are very impressed with Cartagena as there is lots to see and do, some great beaches, good restaurants and great accommodation. We had some spectacular views of the city and surrounding area from an old monestaey on top of the "mountain" in the city. The “Old Walled City” is very nice with a very important old fort, San Filipe Fortress, that is very well preserved. Lots of history here with pirates, early South American explorers and the various wars between many countries for control of the area. Cartagena
has been listed as a World Heritage Site. Most of the old colonial style buildings are still in place and well preserved. We were a little surprised at the number of resorts, high end apartment high rises and the whole infrastructure here. Very nice place !!!
Saturday morning we took a 1 hour boat trip to The Rosario Islands for a visit to “ Pirates Island”, some lounging around the small island, a visit to an interesting outdoor ( in the sea ) aquarium, a local fish lunch and a ride back ( in rough seas ) To Cartagena. The islands are beautiful in the Caribbean Sea. We were a little disappointed as the open boat ride, with 38 other people, was not very comfortable with very tight seating and a nasty, and wet, ride back with continual sea spray for about an hour. The Islands visit could have been better organized as we weren’t well informed on what there was to do on this excursion. After we got there we were told we could dive there. Nice if we had brought our suits and gear !! This could be a nice day trip but not the way it’s
managed now. OK for me, but not for Alice, as all the commentary (tour and aquarium) was in Spanish.
Sunday and Monday were relaxing days at the hotel and pool with a short visit to some local shopping and a look at the huge local beaches. Very hot here with lots of humidity.
Tuesday we got together with our local guide for few hours of visiting more of the Old city and the very interesting Gold Museum and some emerald shopping. ( Can’t visit Colombia without looking at emeralds )
Wednesday we were in the air with flights to Bogota, a connection to Caracas Venezuela and on to our next adventure in Margarita Island.
The visit to Colombia was a very interesting few days. We did not feel particularly uncomfortable with the reported security concerns in Bogota and in Colombia. Quite frankly we have felt more concerned in many other countries in the world. The county is one of the most beautiful we have seen and it is a real shame that they have the problems with a small “quasi political group” ( more of a drug dealing problem now and not much politics ) that
is behind the few problems they have. The current government and President have done a lot to improve the security issues. We hope this direction continues as this is a great place to visit.
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