Captivating Cartagena

Meleena_bowersJPG By Meleena B., current Great Travel Abroad participant

Cartagena is a captivating colonial port city situated on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. Once the crown of the Spanish empire, Cartagena invites visitors to wander its streets and explore its rich history.

To obtain a Love in the Time of Cholera vibe, a stay in the Old Town is a must where former colonial mansions have been transformed into charming B&Bs. It is here where visitors marvel at the Bourgainville that dangles its leafy strands over wrought iron balconies like a modern day Rapunzel.

The city is blessed with several culturally significant museums and sights. Taking top billing are Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress which reminds visitors of Cartagena's once strategic position in the Spanish empire and the Convento La Popa, a convent perched on a steep hill which offers sweeping vistas of the city below. Although this colorful, laid back town is easy to navigate, there's no better way to see the sights than hopping on a Chiva bus. Chivas are multicolored, open-air buses, which serve as sightseeing buses by day and party buses by night.

Cartagena is a rhythmic town. The sounds of the hooves clip clopping down the cobblestone streets fill the air as horse drawn carriages shuttle tourists around town. Like a refreshing tropical breeze, the melodic notes of son and salsa spill out on the street from restaurants and homes wetting your appetite for local flavor. Should you wish to practice your salsa moves in addition to your Spanish, Café Havana, a lively bar offering live music, is the place to be to get your grove on.

The crystal clear sea green waters and white sandy shores of nearby La Playa Blanca provide the backdrop to bask in the sun and achieve the effortless bronzed Caribbean look of the locals while the mud from the Tolumo volcano promises to rejuvenate the parched sun kissed skin of overly enthusiastic sun worshipers

With the locals' appreciation for la dolce vida, it's easy to fantasize about living an expat's life here. After all, it is here where mixologists serve up the best mojitos South of Havana and leisurely dinners at outdoor cafes located in grand plazas are the norm. With its various cultural activities on tap and surrounding attractions, Cartagena is the perfect setting to study Spanish.


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