Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

23 March Cartagena

My plans for my trip to the Caribian Cost of Columbia (it is the only country in South America with access to the Carbic/Atlantic and Pacific Ocean), was to fly to Cartagena, stay there for 2 1/2 days, onwards travel to Santa Marta and the diving heaven Tatonga and finishing with three days in the national park of Tairon. But this was the plan only and I everything turned to be out slightlty different...
With a taxi to the airport in Bogota and flight to Cartagena. Everything withouth any problems. The airport is like every airport in the world, with the exception that the check-in personal doesn't speak English, the plane was very new and nothing else that it is worth talking about. With one exception: one the back of your boarding pass, there are a few lines to fill out: "in case of an emergency, who should we contact?" Since Christiane didn't get a call from the airline, you see that everyhing one ok. But there was one more question that you had to answer with YES or NO: Are you carrying any weapons on board"...
I got off the planc and again I had problems breathing. I left Bogota (2500m) with about 20C and arrived at sea level with 30C and a lot of huminity. Welcome in the Carbic! Cartagena is one of the eldest cities in Columbia and due to its importance in being a major port for the Spanish conquerer, the entire city had been fortified with a think wall. The entire wall still exists and in 1985 it was promoted to a UNESCO world heritage site.
And this for a good reason: the city is beautiful! Inside the walled city, small street, beautiful old buildings with balconies on the first floor, nice coutryards and in all kind of Caribian colors. The only downside is that there are a lot, actually too many tourists (like me). To accommodate all of them, next to the walled city, on a connecting island, there are only skyscrapers with deluxe hotels. Since I wanted to stay in a hostel, I stayed in Getsemani, on a different island outside the walled city, which is an intersting mix between locals and tourists. There are actually a lot of smaller hotels and even more hostels.

I was reading a lot of good things about the Casa Viena, a hostel run by an Austrian. But it was booked out. Nevertheless, the staff was very helpful and called a different hostel in the same street. Some minutes later, the owner of the other hostel picked me up and walked with me to the other place. This was my luck since everything starts there.
The San Roque Hostel was very clean and I got a bed in a 4 bed dorm. There was one girl from Norway that arrived with a one-week delay from a sailing trip from Panama, a guy that I haven't spoken with and then, there was Daniel. he came into the room, titled me with "my friend" all the time and told me in English that he is a professional bike driver, that his father has a house on an island and that I am invited to visit him. I had doubts of all of that - given his alcoholic breath.
After a strall throught the walled city - I planned to explore everyting in debth the next day - I went through a loc al markt - what an experience - before I was heading back to the hostel to get some rest before exploring some bars suggested in my tourist guide. Daniel told me that he will meet up with some friends on the plaza just around the corner and asked me if I want to join him. Ok, why not. So I met Julia, Silvia, two girls from Chile, Florence from Paris, Fabien from Cartagena and Lida, also from Cartagena but she lives in London since 12 years. Of course, she knows Cubana... We had all fun - to my luck most of them spoke at least some words English - had a few drinks there on the plaza and in a bar, walked through the walled city which has even more flair when it is more quiet and when you hear the horse carriadges on the copper plasted streets, before we had a last drink on the wall itself. Walkig home, Daniel repeated his invitation - towards a small fee per day (why that?) and when the two Chilean girls told me that they are going as well, I decided to be spontaneous.

One of the many streets in Cartagena.

One of the many streets in Cartagena.

Part of the wall around the old city.

Part of the wall around the old city.

An other part of the wall with tower.

An other part of the wall with tower.

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Colombia 23 March Cartagena
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
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