Category Archives: Cartagena

City Guide : Cartagena, Colombia (Part 2)

now that i got your stomach full of amazing colombian food, let’s talk about the best things to see and do in this coastal town.



Ciudad Amurallada – or in other words, the walled city located within is a protected part of the city so the buildings are the same style as they were many years ago. we roamed the city for hours.



San Felipe de Barajas Castle – castle = fortress. it was built by the spaniards and used to protect the people from attack. it was positioned on a hill so they could be defensive from the land or the sea. a deeper history of the fortress can be found here. admission fee is about $8 USD/person. bring water!


Plaza Santo Domingo – there are a number of darling plazas within the old city. they offer great people watching and dining options! the feeling of walking through these squares at night was one of the things i wish i could bottle up and save. the city was so was alive! the plazas are lit up and there are many street performers and artists lining the streets.

Cathedral de San Pedro Claver – we saw two weddings occur in this cathedral in one night so i guess it is a hot spot among locals as well. i enjoyed walking along the square and admiring this stunning church that was built over 400 years ago. it was named after pedro claver who dedicated his life to the protection of african slaves. this building embodies everything good. b and i not only went inside to see the alters but we attended a portion of one of the weekly services. i was in complete awe of the inside and outside of this cathedral. i get it locals, i would think about getting married here too.
oh and horse drawn carriages trotting around the premises? swoon.



Plaza de San Diego – oh just another plaza i enjoyed walking through. i recommend walking through all the plazas because they represent the feeling of the city so well.

Iglesia de la Trinidad - my second favorite church. cathedrals are sprinkled within old town and i enjoyed checking out each of them.


Convento la Popa de la Galera – what do you know — another church! this one is set on the highest hill in cartagena and is outside of old town so you will need to hire a taxi to get there. convento la popa de la galera offers the best views of the city! there is a fee of about $3USD/person to enter.

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Free walking tour of old town – there is a free walking tour of old town that covers most all the sites i recommended. it is a guided tour so it was fun to hear the city’s history from a colombian. sign up for your tour in advance!

Island hopping – salesmen hang out by the docks and entice you to book a trip to one of the surrounding islands. we are all for island getaways so we decided to try it out. we picked a package that included lunch and a stop over at the aquarium. the island was a little packed with tourists but we found a quaint spot we liked. there were some beach vendors offering to do massages so be sure to be firm if you are not interested. i thought it was a fun experience but not sure i need to do it again. unless we upgrade to the private island destination ;)

Oceanario Colombia (Aquarium) – we stopped over at this aquarium on the way to the island. it was a unique aquarium in that all the sea life was in the ocean and so they had more room to swim around. you could also “make out” (as b likes to say) with a dolphin for $10 USD. It was not seven minutes in heaven but it was at least four. i thought it was well worth it even though i was the only adult in the line hahaha.





so can we all go to cartagena now? i am telling you, it is bliss.


City Guide : Cartagena, Colombia (Part 1)

cartagena, colombia is not the most conventional place to vacation to. i received many puzzled looks and probing questions about what made us decide to spend christmas in colombia.

would you believe me if i told you that colombia has been on my travel list for quite some time? you see, i grew up listening to wonderful and frightening stories of the country. stories about the amazing and also stomach churning food, the welcoming people, the vibrant cities and the scary situations you can find yourself in. my dad lived all around colombia for 2 years in the 70s. he lived in bogota, barranquilla, ibague, bucaramanga and cartagena. colombia will always have a special place in his heart. it is the place he grew up and found himself. it is the place he lost a couple of toenails (long story). it is the place that helped him to see how much god loves him. and because of this my heart has always been curious about colombia.

b was a little apprehensive about traveling to colombia. i will admit it holds quite the reputation for violence and drugs (just watch narcos). we decided to compromise and start out by exploring one city in colombia–cartagena. i very much hope to explore more!

cartagena is the fifth largest city in colombia. it is a coastal town with a carribean feel. there are brightly colored buildings, street vendors selling everything from hats to fresh fruit, large historic churches and a plethora of mini city squares/parks to enjoy. it is a vibrant city and i loved the energy that  i felt every day we were there. it is more quiet during the day because it is so hot but it really becomes alive in the early evening and into the night.
i felt completely safe everywhere we went. yes, we got completely scammed by some taxi drivers so i will give you some tips in those circumstances but overall the people were welcoming and accepting of my poor spanish.

one of my absolute favorite parts of cartagena was the food. i had some of the best meals of my whole life there. the prices for food can’t be beat which added to the deliciousness.



Mila – we were walking one evening trying to find a spot for dinner. i saw that there was quite a crowd for this place which made me curious. we grabbed a menu and decided to wait it out for a table. mila offers colombian cafe food with an assortment of pasteries. we sat by a couple of college girls who went to school in the states. they spoke perfect english and helped us with the menu a bit. they strongly encouraged us to try milo ( a chocolate shake type drink)– well thank you, sweet girls. my life will never be the same! we also tried arepas (corn pancake with cheese) and tacos. all the food was amazing! we may or may not have come back after dinner a second night to satisfy my milo craving :) .
the pastries looked delectable so i decided to try the cinnamon rolls. i hate to say it but, they were a let down after all the other things we had. maybe there is another pastry they are more known for?

Restaurante El Coroncoro – we stayed in the gesthamane district of cartagena so this restaurant was just a hop away from our hotel. it was filled with locals and the prices were so cheap (like $3 for an entree) so we decided to try it. b couldn’t stop raving. restaurante el coroncoro offers traditional colombian style food – meat or fish with vegetables, rice and fried plantains. nothing fancy but so tasty!
there is a similar restaurant located right across the street that serves the same type of food and was also good.  we preferred el coroncoro though.

La Plaetteria - the days are hot but the plaeta options are endless. stop by here for a quick treat to cool you down!

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Peru Fusion Sushi – another place that we just happened upon one evening. they serve amazing sushi and ceviche. everything tasted so fresh and was seasoned to perfection. it is on the smaller side so i would recommend reservations (we were very lucky to get in).

Cuzco – shout out to the college girls we met at Mila! i had heard of this place through my research and then they said it was their parents’ favorite place in cartagena so i knew we couldn’t miss it. cuzco offers amazing peruvian style food. we ordered a number of things (sushi, fish, ceviche, ice cream dessert) and all of it blew my mind. not a single item was below 5 stars in my book. it is a fancier place so no shorts are allowed and the prices are a little higher but completely worth it. it is still far cheaper than a similar style restaurant in the states!



i researched restaurants heavily via trip advisor prior to coming to cartagena. i have to say that none of the research really paid off. we went to one restaurant recommended online and were disappointed. it was mostly american food and definitely not worth the hype. prices were high too. we didn’t want that one instance to shape our experience so we tried two other highly rated trip advisor restaurants and studied the menu when we got there. it looked like more losers with high prices so that is when we took a different approach and decided to find restaurants based on what we saw. best thing we ever did!

next up, best things to do and see!

5 Reasons to Visit Cartagena

b just asked me, “would cartagena be in your top 5 places you have visited?” and i immediately answered, “yes”.

here are 5 reasons why you should visit cartagena!


1. cartagena is vibrant and visually stunning. the old town is a protected part of the city so it looks just the same as it did many years ago. it has large cathedrals, brightly colored balconies, perfect doors and an abundance of bougainvillea.






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2. there is always a slight scent of fresh arepas con queso (corn cakes with cheese) in the air. i can say without a doubt that i have had some of the best meals of my life in cartagena.

3. the people are so kind and welcoming. b speaks spanish but i just know the basics. i figured people would still know some english so i could get around. wrong! what a stupid american i am. the majority knew no english so i learned spanish as i went and the colombian people encouraged me every step of the way.

4.  there are gorgeous islands just a short boat ride away when you feel the need to escape the city.

5. the atmosphere. i took many videos because i wanted to remember what it felt like to walk around the city (especially at night). there was music playing, people dancing, lights twinkling, horses trotting. i wish i could bottle up that feeling. i will be back for you, cartagena!