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South America » Colombia
January 2nd 2012
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: 10.4137, -75.5336

Volcan de Lodo El Totumo - famous with tourists visiting Cartagena, it's not the type of volcano you typically think of, as it's a mud volcano. People climb up and drop inside of a giant mud bath, which reputedly has therapeutic properties. This was high on our list of things to do but staying here during New Year's made it difficult to arrange anything yesterday as tour agencies were closed - unfortunately, this wasn't going to happen today.

But there are far worse fates than to be stuck lounging around a pretty little colonial town for another day - snacking on ice cream and fresh tropical juices and eating some more divine Caribbean seafood seems to be the routine here, and a beautiful one at that. We later made our way over to Bocagrande, to see what all the fuss is about in the modern tourist district of Cartagena.

From afar it looks a lot like Miami Beach and the vibe there feels a lot like Hawaii's Waikiki. Given that it's the centre of tourist activity for most well-to-do Colombians, we expected there to be a lot more high-end shops, but there were only a handful. There was also a surprising lack of restaurants in Bocagrande, at least public ones - there are a number of all-inclusive resorts in the area, so maybe there isn't enough demand for a lot of restaurants around here.

The beach isn't anything special - a typical city patch of sand, packed with both people and bars blaring loud dance music. Not the place to go if you're looking for a relaxing day at the beach, but it definitely has a fun atmosphere, nonetheless. Overall, Bocagrande seems a bit boring and a bit bland, at least during the day. Like all places Colombian, I'm sure the evening picks up and gets pretty wild.

Can't say I have any desire to ever return to Bocagrande - Cartagena's old town offers so much more that it simply pales in comparison. But having said that, it was still a nice way to spend an afternoon strolling along the beach, and enjoying some refreshments at cafes overlooking the ocean. Bocagrande isn't a bad place - it's not its fault that it isn't Cartagena's walled city!


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Early Morning Gelato ...Early Morning Gelato ...
Early Morning Gelato ...

... passion fruit and some fruit whose name I can't remember, we thought it tasted similar to guava. It's tough describing the fruit in Colombia - the natural tendency is to compare it to a fruit you've had before, but the truth is that quite often, there's nothing similar enough to compare it to.
Typical Pretty Cartagena Street ...Typical Pretty Cartagena Street ...
Typical Pretty Cartagena Street ...

... Hotel Tres Banderas on the right is Canadian-owned - we actually tried reserving there but it was full.
Wicked Organic Coffee Of the Region ...Wicked Organic Coffee Of the Region ...
Wicked Organic Coffee Of the Region ...

... there was a crafts fair going on, with a booth selling coffee. They offered free samples of regular coffee, but also cappuccino for a small charge, recommending to have it without sugar to ensure the full flavours of the coffee are brought out.
Lunch at La Mulata ...Lunch at La Mulata ...
Lunch at La Mulata ...

... didn't think lentils were popular here, but this soup was surprisingly tasty.
Coconut Lemonade and Corozo ...Coconut Lemonade and Corozo ...
Coconut Lemonade and Corozo ...

... yet another new fruit drink here in Colombia, the corozo tasted a bit like cherry.
Fish Fillet Smothered in a Creamy Seafood Sauce ..Fish Fillet Smothered in a Creamy Seafood Sauce ..
Fish Fillet Smothered in a Creamy Seafood Sauce ..

... served with plantain chips and rice. Too bad the rice wasn't of the delicious coconut variety. The salad was a nice departure from the typical Colombian salad - cucumbers, shredded carrot, and mango.
A Kind of Fish Stew ...A Kind of Fish Stew ...
A Kind of Fish Stew ...

... studded with assorted seafood, the ingredients weren't too different from those found in the first dish. Nicely spiced, I couldn't decide which I liked better. This would've been great served over a bed of nachos.
Curuba and Guava ...Curuba and Guava ...
Curuba and Guava ...

... yet another new drink, the curuba was interesting - it's actually called a banana passion fruit, and we found it tasted a bit like carrot, and left you with cotton mouth after drinking it.
Chocolate Carrot Brownie w/ Pimenton Ice Cream ...Chocolate Carrot Brownie w/ Pimenton Ice Cream ...
Chocolate Carrot Brownie w/ Pimenton Ice Cream ...

... the carrot made the brownie incredibly moist, and was just slightly sweetened with what I think was arequipe. The ice cream was amazing - who would've thought smoked paprika would work so well? Absolutely delicious.
Weak Coffee ...Weak Coffee ...
Weak Coffee ...

... but it was a cafe with the nicest view of the upcoming sunset.
Aji ...Aji ...
Aji ...

... the delicious Colombian chili sauce. We noticed that they also serve a type of savoury sour cream here, though we weren't sure what to use it for - we ended up putting it on the patacones with some aji, making for some delicious eating.
Killer Pork Ribs ...Killer Pork Ribs ...
Killer Pork Ribs ...

... not something we'd normally think of getting in Colombia, especially on the Caribbean with its fine seafood, but we had a strange craving - delicious!
Cafe del Mar ...Cafe del Mar ...
Cafe del Mar ...

... beautiful location atop the city walls with a nightclub vibe at night, available for all the beautiful people in Cartagena, or those willing to pay the 10,000 peso cover charge.


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