By the time we arrived in Cartagena it certainly had a lot
to live up to. A world heritage City with a long and interesting history,
everyone we had spoken to who had passed through had raved about its
architecture, colourful past, vibrant present and its warm and friendly people.
All of which is absolutely true.
What was most surprising was our first sight of the city
from the seaward approaches, new high rise hotels and apartments covered the skyline,
crowded golden sandy beaches and all the ingredients of a modern confidant
This new extension is built on the Boca Grande Peninsula and
the old city is located just a little to the north with a string of forts built
by the Spanish to defend this important strategic extension of the
Spanish empire from its enemies. Over the years a number of competitors had
tried to take the city that has a superb natural harbour, notably the French
and British with both Admirals Vernon and Drake entering the city at various
times but never quite able to complete the conquest. Behind the walled
fortifications the old city is beautiful, with its grand colonial buildings,
narrow streets and wooden balconies.
There are a number of old universities within the walls and
a number of graduation ceremonies were taking place during our stay with huge
open air banquets for the students and their families.
The city’s history is everywhere, in the buildings,
museums, in the street signs and on the walls and this ancient timepiece was
It was 2.45pm!
We found the Colombians to be warm, friendly people, one
night chancing on a birthday party for a young woman in a small restaurant,
surrounded by her extended family, playing games, and sharing a large noisy
meal to be followed by a surprise visit by a Mexican style Mariachi band who
crowded the small restaurant to play a succession of songs for her birthday.
Another night enjoying a superb meal on the waterfront at one of the
Caribbean’s top seafood restaurants with the glittering Boca Grande
skyline as a backdrop.
A beautiful city, we have to come back again!