Tuesday, October 25, 2016

11(+) Things To Do in Cartagena

The (almost) perfect city for a destination wedding, Cartagena is affordable, small and easy to navigate on foot. The food's great, there's music on every street corner and the architecture and colors are super Instagrammable -- for those of you who care about IG. The down side: it's hot and humid and mosquito-y 24 hours a day.
We lost power on my best friend's wedding day, which was interesting. That meant no AC, no phone chargers, no styling tools and no cold drinks. If you're looking for a budget place to stay, Don Pedro de Heredia was awesome. Less than $100 a night, this hotel includes a pool, AC, hot water and free breakfast. Also, you can request an in-room hour-long massage, which will cost you around $35 USD. 

Things I did that I'd recommend:

La Mulata- lunch starts with a complementary bowl of fish soup. Must have the platanitos (plantain chips), the coconut lemonade and a Colombian beer.

La Jugada Clubhouse- a bar that sells cocktails with names like "Porn Star" (yes I ordered it; no, I did not know it's topped with whipped cream). 

Juan Del Mar- yummy seafood spot; go for dinner and sit at the bar if there aren't any tables avail. A meal for two costs roughly $30 USD (or less). 

Castillo de San Felipe- not reallyyyyy a castle; it's more of a fort. Take pics from the outside or pay to explore it yourself (extra for a guided tour). Don't walk the tunnels if your balance is off -- steps are super steep and it's dark in there -- and/or if you tend to be claustrophobic, like me. 

Cafe Del Mar- a bit touristy, but nice nonetheless. It's an outdoor bar/restaurant (little overpriced) perched on the rooftop of the city's historic walls. Have a drink; catch the sunset.  

Dementé- tapas place (watermelon margaritas!) with an open air patio in Getsemani, an up-and-coming artsy hood one of my girlfriends compared to Miami's Wynwood. I was advised not to wave my phone around in this area.  

Donde Fidel- a small, old, poorly-lit salsa bar in the center. Grab a beer and burn it off or you can just sit around and people watch, too.  

Left the walled city to visit an area called Los Caracoles, where my friend's family owns a vallenato club called Mi Maye (and a salsa club). Like my native Colombian friends said to me, "this is the REAL Cartagena." And it was a blast. Tons of drinks, live music and drunk dancing. 

Frozen coffee at Juan Valdez, the "Starbucks" of Cartagena  

La Palettería- all kinds of fresh fruit popsicles, but the coconut was my favorite.  

Abaco Libros y Cafe- because I must always visit a bookstore and buy things there (this one has cafe tables and beer) 

Things I didn't do:

*Coche (horse and carriage ride) tour- some of my friends did it and enjoyed it 
*El Totumo- volcano thing with mudbaths 
*Alcimico- cocktail bar across from La Jugada that looked like a place you might find in NYC  
*La Portal de Los Dulces
*Palacio de la Inquisicion 
*Museo de Oro
*Las Bóvedas 
*Velez- leather store that a Colombian girlfriend recommended to me
*Harry Sasson at the Charleston Santa Teresa Hotel- supposedly one of the trendiest spots for dinner in Cartagena at the moment 
*A day trip via boat to places like Playa Blanca and the Rosario Islands 


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