Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017 – Cartagena, Colombia – Mostly Cloudy, humid – 87F

Distance from Panama City to Cartagena, Colombia – 271 Nautical Miles
Cartagena from the Ship
We are on an essentially excursion-free cruise.  But we have the day covered.
After breakfast today, we plan to take a local taxi to Cartagena’s Old City. 
We took the complimentary shuttle to the Terminal/Visitor’s Center
Cartagena Cruise Terminal Center
and then checked out the taxi prices.  In the taxi queue, the price was $20 to go to the old city gates.  The last time we took a taxi, the price was only $5.  And there was no negotiating.  My plan was to get outside the terminal area and onto the street, where another whole squad of taxis was sitting.  The first one we approached started out at $20, then $15, and finally at $5 (I found out later that was per person).  Still better than the $20 the uninformed masses were paying.  The driver spoke no English but he did try to point out some sites along the way.  The route is circuitous and the neighborhood along the way is on the way to being ruins.  As you leave the island of Manga (where the port is), you start to encounter condos and nicer office buildings.  The driver let us off at the gates to the old city and pre-arranged a pickup in two hours at 1 PM.
Just Inside the City Gate
We found our way to the Plaza Bolivar – the equestrian statue was under repair. 
Plaza Bolivar
Surrounding the Square was the Palace of the Inquisition (containing some fun stuff) and the Museum of Gold.  We were looking for the restaurant that has all of the Miss Colombia’s (Miss Universe Contest) images on the sidewalk but couldn’t find it.  We did find some of the narrow streets of the Old City as well as our old friend, Subway.
The Old City and Subway
We were about to go back to the port but instead decided to find a spa in the old city.  We were directed by a hotel clerk to the Health Cartagena Spa just a couple of blocks away.  The storefront for the Spa was exactly the width of the door.  The spa itself was at the top of a long flight of stairs.  The spa itself was clean and manned by sea-foam green uniformed therapists.  Unfortunately, no one spoke English but the girl in charge used her cellphone translator program to communicate.  Our problem was that we had only brought $65 with us to the city.  The hour massages were 130,000 COP or $43.  Eventually, we went with the 45 minute sessions, which were 100,000 COP or about $34.  The sessions were fantastic – clean rooms, expert techs, and soothing music.  It was great.  I checked them out on Facebook and found universal 5 star ratings.  The Health Cartagena Spa will go on our list of Spas around the world.
We were hustled into another cab for our ride home – the taxi biz is a cottage industry of its own.  Another roundabout ride and we were back on the ship in time for a late lunch.
While we were gone, another ship pulled up next to us - again, I could be wrong but I don't remember being in Cartagena with another ship.  The ship, Pullmantur Monarch, actually had some significance.  This Spanish ship, formerly known as the Monarch of the Seas, is just about the same size as the Titanic and I used to mention it in my talk.  I thought the Monarch OTS was turned into paperweights but she continues to live.
Pullmantur Monarch
We spent most of the afternoon on the couches at the stern (Deck 7).  There was a healthy breeze that cooled things off.
Another Kosher night at the Crystal Dining Room – Ribeye Steak and fries for me and Lamb Chop for Ellen.  I also had the Cream of Artichoke Soup, which was very good. 
We were planning to go hear Broadway Diva, Carter Calvert, do her show but she was replaced at the last minute by a classical violinist.  We had watched her do laps and singing while we were reading on Deck 7 so I don’t think it was a health issue (it was actually but indirectly – her sound mixer was under quarantine).
The evening was spent reading in the Crystal Plaza listening to the terrific piano of Gordon Porth and then to the smooth violin of Lana Gasparyan.
Expecting a smooth night tonight since we are docked – I also finished “The Affair”.  Jack Reacher never bothers with any arrests – he handles everything in a much quicker way.

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