Exhausted and Happy in Cartagena


I arrived in Cartagena exhausted. 

Over the past two weeks, we had stayed in El Tunco, Granada, San Jose, and Panama City. I felt like I had just sprinted through Central America.

It was totally worth it. 

My cousin and her husband were vacationing in Cartagena from New York City and we crashed their last two days in Colombia. Seeing them was wonderful and surreal. Since starting to travel in July, all of my close relationships (with the exception of Martin, of course) exist solely online. We usually find new acquaintances in every city and some of those become friendships, but even those eventually move online. Hanging out with someone who has been an important part of my entire life was refreshing. We could skip past the boring “where are you from” questions and move onto the more meaningful conversation topics. I miss her already.

Because we were burnt out on touristy things, we didn’t do much in Cartagena. But, the things we did do, I would highly recommend.

Coffee Tasting with San Alberto

I sniffed. I slurped. I trained my tongue and my nose to appreciate a well balanced cup of coffee. If you are a coffee lover, do not miss out on this experience. It was a little expensive (about $60 per person) but so much fun. 

Cartagena Cartagena Colombia

Castillo de San Felipe

Built over 500 years ago, this massive fort is an engineering wonder. Martin loves military history, so we spent nearly 3 hours here. The audio tour makes visiting the fort fascinating – definitely get the audio tour if you visit it. Total cost for 2 adult entrance fees and 1 audio tour: 44,000 Colombian Pesos (about $17). 

Cartagena Castillo San Felipe Cartagena Castillo San Felipe Cartagena Castillo San Felipe

Cartagena Castillo San Felipe

Wander the Historic City

The Centro Historico of Cartagena is not only easily walkable, it is an activity unto itself. We wandered up and down streets, discovering beautiful buildings and art. My cousin and I enjoyed early morning runs along the wall of the city. I had a really hard time getting my bearings, however, because the street names change with each block. So, I could be walking down Calle Colegio, but as soon as I cross a street, it turns into something else even though I haven’t turned at all. Super confusing. Directions are “turn left, then right, then right, then past Restaurant Oh La La, then left.” Um… 

We stayed in a little apartment above this currency exchange bureau.

We stayed in a little apartment above this currency exchange bureau.


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Food in Cartagena

The food here is fantastic. Fish is plentiful and often fried whole, as I discovered our first day here. I was in the mood for things familiar, so we found a couple good restaurants and just kept going back to them. 

Girasoles is a vegetarian restaurant that has no menu; just sit down and the woman will bring you a soup, a plate of food consisting of rice, salad, veggie side, and a main dish (like seitan or lentil loaf). Splurge and order some fruit bread for dessert. The whole meal will cost you 20,000 Colombian Pesos for 2 people (less than $8). 

Restaurant Puerto Rico was also delightful. I could have eaten their coconut rice everyday for the rest of my life and been blissfully happy. They have mostly their menu is fish, and it would be difficult to eat vegetarian here. Each plate is 10,000 Colombian Pesos (about $4). 

Arepas are corn patties stuffed with cheese and/or meat or even egg and then fried. A perfect MN State Fair food! Just sayin’. Eat one and be happy.

Restaurant Puerto Rico and their divine coconut rice.

Restaurant Puerto Rico and their divine coconut rice.

Arepa stuffed with egg.

Arepa stuffed with egg.

Hang Out on the Beach

A plethora of people will offer you boat rides to neighboring beaches and islands (Islas de Rosario and Playa Blanca are most popular). We tried to schedule a snorkel adventure with Diving Planet before we left, but it didn’t work out. The water is warm. The waves aren’t too fierce and we had a blast playing in the water. Plus, we found some new snorkel masks that had corrective lenses in them. They are frickin’ amazing. 

Cartagena Colombia


Tomorrow, we fly to Bogota where we will attempt to fix my camera again at the Olympus store. 

Have you been to Bogota? What should we do, see, or eat there? 

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3 Responses

  1. JoEllen says:

    What fun. You are an awesome writer, Jill, and take wonderful photos, too!

  2. Coralie says:

    I miss you, too! Great post!