Monday, 18 April 2011


The approach to Cartagena takes us through a narrow channel between fortifications built on small islands, and we can see its skyscrapers from quite far out. It looks like a larger and more prosperous place than we have been used to recently. The pier is too short for our ship so the stern line gets passed to a guy in a dinghy who passes it to a chap on a concrete platform to secure.

We have decided to explore independently today but it doesn't start well. It's a long way to the port exit and we don't notice the courtesy bus until we've walked it. But finally Alex sets foot on his sixth continent. We set off on foot and are beseiged by taxi drivers and guides touting for business. One of them kindly points us in the direction of the old town.

It's so hot, especially by the port where there are many heavy lorries, but the traffic thins as we enter a residential area. There are some pretty big houses here, in an attractive villa style, many with gardens around them.

Above, builders dangle precariously on suspended platforms painting newly built blocks of flats.

It takes more than an hour to reach the old town, passing the fort on the way, and we approach via a bridge where fishermen appear to be walking on water. There's a bar on top of the city wall but it's closed, so we walk around the corner to another bar. The prices are in pesos which makes them look expensive as there are 1820 to the dollar. The bar, bizarrely, has a German theme, complete with wall-mounted lederhosen but it feels like we are well off the tourist track. I have ever enjoyed a beer so much.

Suitably refreshed, we continue following the walls of the old town, along Arsenal Street and past the junction with Gethsemane. At the conference centre we turn towards the centre. The city has a really good atmosphere; it's modern and prosperous but has kept its character. We found a university centred around a beautiful shady courtyard and then found ourselves in an open space with statues and a park to the right.

Ahead of us was the gate to the inner fortifications that have been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. In here the streets become narrower and there are more people. We work our way to the cathedral, where there are street vendors and beggars as well as a colourful lady with a basket of fruit on her head. We head deeper into the citadel in search of lunch.

We find a restaurant tucked away down one of the little streets and order lunch. It takes ages to arrive and we begin to worry about running out of time. At least it has wifi so we catch up on emails and facebook.  We pay up and set off for the citadel, across a different bridge, past a broken pipeline and a slum. It's quite a climb to the top, it costs to go in and we're hot and tired, so we decide to admire it from the outside and then get a taxi back to the port. It has yellow fur on the dashboard.

There's a smart souvenir shop at the port with a parrot exhibit next door, so the boys take a look while I shop. Then we go back to the Equinox for a well-earned swim before dinner.

No comments:

Post a Comment