Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011 – Cartagena, Colombia – Clear and Sunny – 88F

Distance traveled from Colon, Panama: 266 Nautical Miles

Back in sunny Cartagena…more often than Jack Colt.

 Cartagena Condos (Small)

No escorting today.  At first, we were going to stay on the ship and go to the WIFI hotspot at the cruise terminal area.  After talking to a few people and the guest relations desk, we are going to do something for the first time – take a local cab to the old city. 

The cab pick up spot is just beyond the visitors center so again, we get a nice view of the Celebrity Infinity docked in Cartagena.

Infinity docked Cartagena (Small)

We were told that cab prices are negotiable and that the cabbies will even return for you at a specified time.  Let’s say the bidding started at $20 but settled at $10.  The cabbie spoke little English but he was friendly and the cab was OK (seat belts inoperable but he clicked his).  It was a short ride to Old Cartagena and we dropped at the Plaza de la Aduana.  We agreed to be here for a return ride at 2:00 PM.  

We entered the Old City through the Puerta de la Aduana.

The only problem with walking was the heat – high 80s with solid humidity – so we had to negotiate shade constantly.  So we would have a destination during our walks, we stopped in a hotel to get a recommendation for a health spa in the area.  He recommended “Kalamari” (doesn’t that mean squid?) a few blocks away. 

We arrived at Kalamari just as they were opening.  It seemed like a nice place and the price was for a relaxation massage was $65000 Colons or $40 US.  I was not pleased with my session (she left for a few minutes so some time was lost).  And we were just not sure the math on the exchange rate.

The Old City is very colonial and filled with interesting sites and persistent vendors.  An so, our walking tour began.

Old Cartagena (Small)

Armed with a map, we stopped first at the Plaza de Bolivar.  This Plaza Mayor was established in 1891 and became a park almost immediately.  The statue of the Libertador, Simon Bolivar, is the centerpiece of the park.

Plaza de Bolivar (Small) Plaza de Bolivar1 (Small)

The Plaza de Bolivar borders the Palace of the Inquisition (seen last time we were here) as well as other shops and museums.  Some of these museums are like the Papyrus Institutes in Egypt.  They are trying to sell emeralds, one of Colombia’s exports.

Our route was a circular one….waling along one of the restaurant heavy streets, we looked down to see Cartagena’s version of the Walk of Fame.  This one involved the women, who over the years, were Miss Colombia in the Miss Universe Contest.  Some of the faces were pretty well worn from foot traffic but it was still an interesting site.

Miss Colombia sidewalk of fame (Small)  

Cathedral in bkg (Small)

Ellen and the Catedral Metropolitana in the distance.  We checked out the inside of this massive Cathedral.

Catedral Metropolitana (Small) 

Circling back to the Plaza de Bolivar, we stopped at the Museo del Oro, a historical museum build tin 1982.  The exhibits focus on archeological artifacts from the Zenu, an indigenous people of the region.  The museum also has a nice courtyard and it was air conditioned.

me Museo del Oro (Small) e Museo del Oro (Small) 

Top:  Courtyard of the Museo del Oro; Bottom:  Interior of the museum

After visiting a few vendor shops, we wondered whether the proper exchange rate had been applied at Kalamari.  We returned to the Spa and spoke to the therapist Ellen had about the price – it turned out to be $38 – within error.  However, I did share my displeasure with my earlier session.  The therapist was concerned and said if I returned in an hour, she would give me a free extra 30 minutes.  We agreed that was equitable.

In the next hour, we visited the old city wall that borders the Caribbean Sea…complete with cannons.

 Me and the old city wall (Small) Cannons (Small) E Me and the old city wall (Small)

Our other mission was finding an internet hot spot so we could check e-mail.  We found on on our walk that charged only $1 and hour.  We did all of our checking and even some chat and only used 30 minutes of our hour.  The place was clean, smoke free, and air conditioned.

One of our previous tours, the guide told us that Cartagena was a lot like New Orleans, with ornate balconies and narrow streets.  The picture below would support that.

Old Cartagena street (Small)

My make up 30 minutes at Kalamari turned out to be terrific indicating how different treatments can be.

Our walk took to Plaza Santa Domingo, with nice restaurants and shops (below).

Old Cartagena Square (Small)

The heat was still an issue and we still had an hour until our rendezvous time with the cab.  We decided that we needed to get back to the ship.  We did located Plaza de la Aduana near the place when were dropped.

There is a statue of Cristobal Colon in the plaza – the statue is a replica of the one in Genoa, Italy and was a gift from the Italian government in 1897.  It is made of white marble and still in very good condition (perhaps it has been restored).


Columbus Plaza de la Aduana1 (Small)

Columbus Plaza de la Aduana (Small)

We decided it was time to return to the ship.  I negotiated the same $10 fare and soon we were back on the Infinity.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the open decks chatting with Ingrid (water color artist).

The three pictures below captured the beautiful sail away from Cartagena. 

 Cartagena Sail Away (Small) Cartagena Sail Away1 (Small)

Cartagena Sail Away2 (Small)

Showtime tonight is Don Bryan, a ventriloquist with a very funny dummy named “Noseworthy”.  Entertaining…

It was a very nice day in Cartagena and my phobia about local cabs is for the moment, a thing of the past.

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