Our flight to Cartagena was comprised of two groups of people: a giant wedding party and dudes. The group going to the wedding were already in party mode and very excited for the lucky couple getting married this weekend. It brought back memories of our wedding in San Juan- so many people you love on vacation together. Chris and I wish we could have another destination wedding! The majority of the flight was filled with 20-30 something guys, probably going down for a long weekend to party. The last time I saw a plane comprised of this many guys was on my flight to Vegas for CES.
We arrived in Cartagena around noon to sunny 90 degree weather. We took a cab to our hotel and spent the afternoon walking around the city. They old city is beautiful. It's entirely Spanish colonial architecture and the buildings are different colors, many with climbing vines that produce cascading flowers over the windows & balconies. It reminded us of San Juan except with fewer hills, wider buildings, more people out and about, massive churches and more bold colors than the pastel colors of the Caribbean.
We made a few interesting observations on our walk:
-Everyone sips the local drink Aguardiente (or guaro) out of little plastic cups, purchased from street vendors. It's a clear, anise-flavored alcohol.
-Every now and then you'd pass by a llamadas sign - meaning phone calls. It's not a phone booth - it's literally a person sitting on the side of the road with a credit card machine hooked up to a couple of old cell phones. These vendors are usually on every other street.
-ATMs are really hard to find and when you find them they often don't have money. People wait in line to use an ATM.
At night the city transforms. All the cafes and bars are full and the locals gather in the plaza to catch up with friends over a bottle of beer. You can hear music in the street and the temperature drops to near perfect. While this town is vibrant and colorful during the day, it's magical and very romantic at night. I loved strolling through the streets of el centro around twilight (6:30pm) under a sky that was a rich cobalt blue color.
We ate dinner at El Boliche Cebicheria which was very good. It's a little hole in the wall place that seats around 15 people. The ambiance left a little to be desired but the food & service made up for it. Our waiter was wonderful and his recommendations did not disappoint!
Here are a few snapshots from our first day: