A Silent Night in Cartagena
Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
371Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
The flight was uneventful, Aires are a budget airline much the same as Easyjet so you don’t get anything on the plane at all – still it was only an hour flight to Bogota so we weren’t going to starve. Our biggest worry had been that the flight would be delayed and we wouldn’t be able to catch our connecting flight to Cartagena (Aires have a bit of a bad reputation) but everything went smoothly and we arrived in Cartagena at about 1pm – no delays, no lost luggage it was all good. The temperature was considerably hotter than Medellin had been but then it was to be expected – we were on the Caribbean Coast. We managed to get a taxi outside and decided that we would head for Hostel Viena even though they hadn’t responded to any of our emails
Firstly, Cartagena really is a beautiful city and it fully warrants its’ UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Within the walled city (Old City) the narrow streets and balconies that overhang them spill shocking pink bougainvillea and the ramshackle colonial buildings are endlessly charming. We wandered through the walls and in the first plaza that we came to we were accosted by a guy calling himself 'Johnny Walker’ after some pleasantries he invited us to a ‘private’ party that he was having that evening at a private house in the old city. He kept on telling us that anything could happen at the party them backing it up with "Do you know what I mean?" we knew what he meant and we kindly tried to fob him off but he was quite insistent and then insisted on showing us a cheap restaurant that he goes to. This became the introduction to Cartagena for us – there are so many people on the streets trying to sell you stuff from Panama hats, to emeralds to drugs that you get to the stage where you have to be rude to get anywhere. Andrew was also nearly dragged in to a barbers shop to have his hair cut by a very bombastic barber
After an afternoon nap, I managed to rid myself of my tiredness we decided to head out and go in search of the legendary nightlife that Cartagena is so famous for – especially the area that we were staying in Getsemani – it apparently gets very raucous here. Well there were certainly a lot of people out on the street, but most were just sat outside their houses on plastic chairs. None of the so called bars were busy so we walked up to the plaza beyond our hostel and watched a couple getting married in the local church. Even Avenida Arsenal, one of the nightlife hotspots was dead – this was Saturday night wasn’t it? Were we missing something? The only life around seemed to be coming from within the city walls so we went there and sat ourselves down at a pavement bar and had a few beers. Within a few minutes a mime artist appeared and started to put on a performance in the street. Actually it was very good, the guy would follow unsuspecting people on the street tap them on the shoulder, steal their hat, crouch down in front of moving cars so they stopped and then he would crawl away and leave the driver there unaware that he had gone so they just sat there stationary he also had a habit of jumping on to passing horses and carts and scaring the passengers half to death. It was all very entertaining. After a few hours with a distinct lack of anything else going on we gave up and went home having had a very entertaining evening but definitely not what we had expected. Maybe we should have gone to Johnny Walkers party after all - then again maybe not.