Beautiful colonial architecture, and a brothel

Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, February 28, 2008

The trip to Cartagena was long. After everything attempting to prevent us from leaving Santa Marta and Taganga, we finally made it out! We hopped on a bus to recieve yet more forms of racism found in lots of places in Latin America because of the colour of our skin with being made (even after intense bartering) to pay more than everyone else to get on a bus, even after they quote a cheaper price just to get us on the bus without hassle... Then we found out that the bus was only going half way to Baranquilla, but still trying to take our cash for the full distance to Cartagena. It really annoys me at times when things like this happen! Some people Ive found will do anything to get your money, even if it means your misfortune.

Our other bus from Barranquilla dropped us off randomly outside the town and we had to catch a taxi to the towns centre where the hotels were. Before we went anywhere though we bumped into the crazy Italian guy again Mirco! haha, and not supprisingly he had another Colombiana tucked under his arm, haha! The place we were recommended was full, so we took a cheap alternative some guy on the street showed us too. It had blue square concrete rooms with espestas for a ceiling. The rooms floor was littered with condom wrappers, cigarette butts, and other rubish. The walls had who knows what splattered over then, and the sheets were used, tattered and disgusting... - Good enough for us, haha! That night I had a fantastic sleep in my sleep liner, which is only the 2nd time Ive ever felt the need to use it.

On the 29th of Febuary (leap year by the way), we woke to explore the town. We immediately headed for the centre of the old town and the moment I set eyes on the place, I fell in love with the vibe! The town is unbelievably beautiful, with the most amazingly colourful colonial architecture that one could possibly see! The streets are littered with colourful buildings that all have balconies over hanging in true colonial style, decorated with flowers. Not only did it look fabulous, the houses and streets are perfectly clean and vibrant. The plaza's we walked through were lush with green trees and centred with white foundtains with running water. The streets filled with people selling their own crafts they make. There is cafe's and traditional restaurants on every corner, with tables and chairs spilling out onto the street with locals sipping slowly on beverages. The sun beats down in flawless caribbean style, lighting up the towns atmosphere. The thing here is that every street is worth seeing that it doesnt really matter what direction you head in to explore. The town is surrounded by huge thick concrete walls, named Las Murellas. It was built in the late 1600's to protect the city from Pirate sieges that constantly had fallen upon the city previously. We walked ontop of the wall, around the entire town before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many scrumptious bakeries throughout the town, for under 1000 pesos! As per normal, locals walking around selling deliscious coffee, which I regulary took advantage of for 200p. The coffee in Colombia is unbelievably tastey!!!

The end of the day came around, and matty and myself joined with one or two locals sat out at the back balconly of our hotel and drank a few Cuba Libre's for a while. While we listened to Colombian Salsa we noticed that this hotel was not exactly normal. To put it straight - we realised that we are staying in a brothel! A different woman would come in with a man behind a closed door, come out every 30 minutes, followed by the hotel owner to clean up. All of a sudden everything makes sense! haha, i guess it was a good decision to sleep in my sleep sheet last night. We laughed our heads off!

The next morning I was up to find our shower was littered with 2 or 3 new condom wrappers - again! Today we walked down to the big fortress called Castillo de San Filepe de Barajas, thats littered with cannons in its high impenetrable concrete walls that face the sea entrance to the city. Inside there is an elaborate complex tunnel system which we walked around. We ended up going to ddep that there was no more light, and left the unknown of the eary darkness. We had no way to light it up, so we bailed and turned around to head back up to the surface, which was very slippery. Up at the surface I found a nice little spot to have a quick kip (aussie slang for 'short sleep') ontop of the fortress. Up here, there is a great arial view of the entire of Cartagena. The new, more modern section looks shabby and unfinished and from what I have seen and heard, not really worth wandering into. However, the old section is where you need to spend your time wandering the streets.

After a while of relaxing, I headed to the internet to write to my old Boss, Don, who plans on sailing to Cartagena in the next couple of months! I had to tell him how beautiful the place is. And ofcourse, to write my partner a big email, in which I miss sooooo much! But I'm definitely getting excited about seeing her very shortly, when she joins me on 4th of April!!

For the rest of the day I hung around the Plaza Bolivar in the old town centre with Matty, watching a couple get married and listening to the calm drum beats for the reception. Once again our famous bakery made an appearance for dinner, before soaking up the contrasting colours of the night as they fell upon the town and it became alive. Theres some cinema festival happening in one of the plazas, so all the Colombiana's get dolled up in fancy dress for the night.

We arose early in the morning after a night of hearing doors repeatidly slam shut next door, after each customer comes and goes, to find that the damn hookers had drank most of our orange juice and all of our water we'd bought and put in the fridge for our long journy ahead of us.
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