Three years ago my sister tried to get me to travel with her to Cartagena, and I declined. That was a mistake, but she finally got me here.
This is a colorful, vibrant city. We arrived on a direct flight from Ft Lauderdale at around 4 pm. We are staying in the old walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is clean and the people friendly.
Typical of Latin America, the evenings are busy, with live music and dancing in the streets. We spent our first evening walking the streets to get our bearings. Everything is easy to walk to in the old city.
The clock tower gate and main entrance to the old city.
Early Saturday morning I ventured out alone to take photos. Early morning is the time for photos as it is very hot and humid. I was approached by several potential tour guides, but waved them off. Standing in the nearly empty square I saw a tour guide who I liked the look of. We spoke and I agreed to meet him back at the square at 0900 with my sister for a walking historic tour of old town Cartagena.
Raphael explained that the balls lining the square, Plaza de los coaches, were used as anchors on which to chain slaves.
Raphael was a fantastic guide. What a wonderful discovery. He was voted best historic guide three times. He was full of historic information and suggestions for us. We thoroughly enjoyed his tour and would highly recommend him (Raphael with Chocolate Tours).
The most impressive visual impact of the city are the balconies. Raphael told us that every year there is a contest for the most beautiful balcony. The top three winners are tax exempt for the year. We saw the number two balcony for this year.
This balcony was voted as second best in the city this year.
Raphael gave us a historic run down on the many invaders, the slave trade, architecture, and their independence Nov. 11, 1811 (11-11-11). We just missed the big celebration.
The door knockers are an indication of the occupant’s status or affiliations. The iguana means they are local from Cartagena. The fish means you are a fisherman or a boat owner.
The wall around the old town.
Me and Raphael in the street.
This gate into the city, puerta del reloj, was used for bringing slaves into the slave market. All the stone and wood is original from the 1500s.
A Fernando Botero sculpture donated to the city by the artist. We did the ritual that guarantees good luck and a return to the city.
Street vendors sell hats and bags among other items.
Antiquities discovered during renovation.
My sister, a consumer of large quantities of coffee at all hours, and Raphael under a truly appropriate sentiment.
After our walking tour we headed back to Casa Mejia for a dip in the pool.
Very colorful balconies. Nice opening blog, Laura!
Cartagena does look a lot like Cuba but
a lot cleaner and revitalized. I guess that’s why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Beautiful place and great pics
Beautiful! The architecture is so colorful and vibrant. You have captured some great shots with your photos!
Thank you Rich. Colorful is the exact right word for Cartagena.
So wonderful and fabulous photos. Thank you for sharing!