I stepped off the Grandeur of the Seas to the hustle and bustle of Cartagena, Colombia greeted by a crowd of taxi drivers eager to give me and LaRease a tour of their great city and its many sites. After some negotiation we met Esueldo (or E as we affectionately called him). He was a great guide and very accommodating as we listed out the sights we wanted to see and restaurant we picked out for lunch.
Our first stop was La Popa, a monastery perched high on a hill over looking Cartagena. It’s beautiful grounds are over 400 years old and still in use as a place of worship. Admission cost for La Popa is $5 per adult for the day. The trip to the Monastery is also worth a visit for the great views of Cartagena.
Our next stop was Castillo San Felipe de Barajas also known as Fort San Felipe. Admission here was $10, with an optional audio tour for $6. This grand stone fortress is over 400 years old and its strategic location, dominating approaches to the city by land or sea, made it an important stronghold during colonial times and its extensive layout of walls, tunnels and towers are fun to explore and get lost in.
After climbing the hills and steps of the Castillo San Felipe, we made our way to La Cevicheria in Old Town for a light lunch and cool drinks. E knew the restaurant’s location and joined us for lunch after finding parking for the taxi nearby. We enjoyed the al fresco dining and found the interior also very charming and well themed. Lunch for 3 cost about $60 US for Ceviche and a drink so figure about $20 per person. The menu is extensive and offers ceviche and other favorites like grilled fish, salads and empanadas.
Red Snapper Ceviche
After lunch we walked through the Old City through the Plaza Santa Domingo, to Plaza San Pedro and its metal sculpture garden and then the Clock Tower. The narrow streets where lined with colonial style buildings decorated with wrought iron balconies and painted in a rainbow of colors. We passed by many restaurants, cafes and shops selling souvenirs. It was very busy but very charming at the same time.
La Gordita, Plaza Santa Domingo
Sculptures Depicting Every Day life in the Old City, Plaza San Pedro
With only a day to spend in Cartagena I saw three of its main attractions and had a delicious lunch with old and new friends.