Arriving to Cartagena
After having a chance to recover from jet lag, we headed to the coastal city of Cartagena. This is one of the most visited destinations in Colombia for the rich and the famous; we had just missed Prince Charles by a few days. The Old City is where you want to spend all of your time in Cartagena. The beaches there are dirty so you will need to leave the city or go out to the islands to find the clear water (easily done by boat). There is an old fort in Cartagena, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, which is totally worth checking out. Other than that, everything is either far away or just in the Old City.
In the Old City, you will find amazing food. The ceviche here is incredible everywhere, but the best is at a small shack just outside the front doors of the airport (map). Come out from baggage claim, cross the street and take a right to the first intersection. Take a left. The shack will be 200′ on the left sidewalk.
The best desserts on the planet are at Mila Pasteleria. Great coffee too. I also had amazing and very reasonably priced sushi at Teriyaky. La Cevicheria is the best seafood in town; I ate the Seafood Paella, but you can’t go wrong at all with their menu. The best coffee you will find anywhere in Colombia is at any of the Juan Valdez Coffee Shops, but be warned that they don’t necessarily open early or on schedule.
I found that the souvenir shopping was pretty “meh.” If you see one street vendor or one shop, then you’ve pretty much seen all of your local selection. You can shop till you drop at and of the many designer stores, but the prices in the Old City are greatly inflated from what you would find anywhere else. I didn’t see much value in that, but hey, you only live once, and if you see something you just have to have, go for it. I didn’t make any purchases here other than flip flops for the beach.