January 18, 2019
Cartagena is on the northern coast of Colombia aand has a population of 1.2 million people. There is a colonial walled city and a very modern downtown. Many old mansions are in the older part of town and a lot of them are only used a few weeks a year as vacation sites. The fortress and walled city were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today we did a private tour with Marilyn and Charlie and Ginny and Joe. Our guide was Jhon and we were in a very comfortable large van which could have accomodated 6 more people. It was hot so it was nice to return to the air conditioned van in between stops.
The walk out to meet Jhon was beautiful – lots of flowers, flamingos, peacocks and parrots of all colors. We even saw a turtle and an aardvark!
Our first stop was at the Convento de la Popa. It is the highest point in the city . Build in 1607, this former convent has a beautiful courtyard with flowers everywhere. The best part is the view of the entire city.
.The next stop was the Castillo Dan Felipe de Barajas, the fort of St. Philip. We had all visited here on previous trips, so we just had a quick photo stop.
We then went on to Old Town where we did some shopping and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city.
We then visited Museo Naval del Caribe. This historic building served as a school, hospital and military quarters. It contains ship models and other nautical displays that tell the history of Cartagena as an important port city.
We walked through the Old City, visiting a church, shops and a chocolate factory, yum!
The history of slaves coming from Africa, the Spanish Inquisition and the drug trade were all part of the discussion with Jhon in the van – fascinating history here, and their economy is still pretty good even with many Venezuelan refugees coming in. There is a part of town that is very poor and unsafe – we didn’t go there but Jhon pointed it out from up on the hill.
There are, of course, many beaches here and it is high tourist season, so they seemed very crowded. The windy side was very rough ocean but the protected bay had many swimmers.
There is a lot of interesting art here. This shot was taken by Joe – generously shared via air drop!
Because we are headed for the Panama Canal and all transit has a scheduled time to pass through the locks, our departure time today was 2 PM. We had to be on the ship by 1:30, so we had lunch on the ship and had a relaxing afternoon!