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One of the most famous colonial cities in the world, Cartagena de Indias was named by the Spanish after a city in Spain, and given the name “of the Indies” to distinguish it from that city, marking its location in the West Indies.  Founded in 1533, Cartagena underwent several pirate attacks, forcing residents to build a wall around the city and several fortresses with underground tunnels for making quick escapes. The wall and fortresses still stand strong today and create a unique backdrop to the colonial architecture. Unfortunately I only have night views of the Castillo de San Felipe but it gives you an idea.

 

We spent some time exploring and were treated to a stay in one of the most beautiful boutique hotels, Bovedas de Santa Clara, in the “old city” among cobblestone streets, brightly coloured buildings and flowering balconies.  Just walking through the streets and plazas is an unforgettable experience in a colonial city such as this.


There is SO much more to see, we all would have loved some more time here, knowing it is a special place. But we were whisked off to another island off the coast of Cartagena for more diving and some time on the beach at one of the several islands that can be reached by boat within a couple of hours from the city harbor.  The hotel was fairly simple but nicely designed from the outside with high thatched roofs and an open concept. The beach was small and private, and nice for relaxing. Unfortunately the food did not live up to the amazing restaurants we’ve been to so far, including the simple, typical places. Speaking of food…

I can’t forget our dinners in Cartagena with some of the best dishes I’ve ever had. El Santisimo right near our hotel in Santa Clara where I had mahi-mahi in a delicious sauced served in a banana leaf and candied bananas (pictured above) and Club de Pesca (Fishing Club) which was right on the water at the marina just outside the old wall. I said it before and I’ll say it again, the food is incredible here – the Colombian dishes of fish served in various sauces such as lime with coconut milk and cilantro along with fresh blended fruit juices surely make a stay here that much better.  Then we were off to Santa Marta for some more diving – can’t complain really.

Some more pictures of Cartagena – what an unforgettable place!