Cartagena - La Heroica
In early June, i took a trip to Colombia with a couple of my friends, my first foray into South America, one of us was getting married and obviously we took advantage, visited other cities before going for the wedding in Medellin.
Our first stop was in Cartagena, also known as the heroic city or La Heroica because the people of the city were held under siege by land and sea for 105 day by the troops of the ruthless Pablo Morillo, entrusted by Ferdinand VII to reconquer these lands, which in 1811 had declared his absolute freedom from Spain.
The city was attacked by cannon fire and prevented the entry of food and water for the natives. The people defended themselves and resisted until they could. more than 4000 people died, those brave settlers gave their lives before surrendering to the conquerors, who attacked them in a heartless way.
This historical fact earned Cartagena the name La heroica
- Cartagena was colorful, beautiful buildings that are maintained, i am pretty sure are getting a slab of paint regularly
- The heat!!, oh the heat, humid, hot, sticky, drenched in sweat in seconds, i was ot expecting this, my fault because typically id check the weather before going anywhere, i guess because when i left Boston it was still a little chilly, spring was still in season, so i didnt even bother researching, RESEARCH people, dont be like me.
My friends and i stayed within the old walled city of Cartagena in an airbnb, it was pretty comfortable with enough rooms for all of us, I was lucky to be among native sSpanish speakers, diverse group of Colombians, Chileans, Mexicans and my faithful Canadians, moving around was easy, we walked or took a local cab to far places, since we had spanish speakers in teh group that could haggle with the taxi drivers, I'd advice sticking to uber if you dont speak the native language
The city itself was amazing, i couldnt get over all the colors, and proceeded to take pictures everywhere and anywhere i was allowed, people are very friendly, and unfortunately the old city is becoming a tourist trap, with places set up to cater to outsiders and robbing us off the local culture.
The food was amazing as expected, disappointedly not spicy so i had to ask for hot sauce everywhere we went. Being with Colombians we got lucky and got to experience authentic food and snacks.
And in typical Alice fashion i made reservations in a pretty fine dining restaurant with tasting menus and the works, i always like to experience what the best food can be in every city i go to, id go to the local authentic joint and a fine dining restaurant to get the best of both worlds. and Carmen Cartagena did not disappoint, the food was AMAZING! i got the 7 course tasting menu and every single course was worth it, the whole meal cost only about 150$
I was so happy at the end, well fed and worth every single dollar, a must do if you are in Cartagena, i think they also have a location in Medellin.
We also did a free walking tour giving by Free tour Cartagena, he was very knowledgeable, taking us around the old city and giving us a good dose of history and "fables", free tip for any new city you visit, a free walking tour is always a must do, best way to get to know the city quickly before exploring on your own and they operate on just tips, so you give what you feel like after the tour depending on how good you thought it was.
Next we visited the Old fortress Castillo San Felipe de Barajas in the main city, took a taxi there in the evening, it was built by the Spanish during the colonial era, still very well maintained and we got a tour guide to tell us the story and show how it was used during the war to protect the city
Ended the day by visiting the infamous old shoe monument (Los Zapatos Viejos) thats at the base of the Fort, because we went so late we actually didnt have any issues getting proper pictures with the boots,
According to Viator, "the monument was created by the sculptor Hector Lombana as a reference to the popular poem, “Mi Ciudad Nativa,” by local poet, and one of South America’s most respected writers, Luis Carlos López. In the final line, López compares the love and sense of comfort he feels for his hometown of Cartagena to that which he feels for a pair of worn-in, but familiar and comfortable shoes. And on a plaque in front of the famous sculpture, you can read the whole poem in full."
The next day we took a boat to one of the islands for a relaxing day, started with some fresh empanadas from a street vendors and enjoyed the day lazying on a beach, getting massages and kayaking.
I was glad to leave the heat in Cartagena and the head to Medellin at the end of the 4th day, look out for my post on Medellin and why its my favorite city in Colombia