Alone Girl (budget traveler)
Sister (One of Alone Girls’s younger sisters)
Salsa Dance Group aka Randy and Las Jefas
Alone Girl and Sister were ready for their first full day in Cartagena. While food was still the main itinerary, uncovering the layers of Cartagena was also a priority. Adorned in comfy and cute clothes, the sisters walked to Old Town. The agenda for the day was to see Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (Castle San Felipe), then walk to Cerro de La Popa. Their ever-hungry tummies rumbled all the way through the cobbled streets of Old Town, until they came upon a Colombian restaurant that seemed less touristy than the others. Although the price was right, the sisters were disappointed with the flavorless chicken with rice and beans (Sister) and the seafood rice (Alone Girl) dishes they ordered. Their fresh squeezed lemon juice and maracuya juice, however, imparted much pleasure to their palettes. Having fulfilled their tummies, the two had an hour walk in the 95 degree Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celcisus) weather to Castillo San Felipe.
Sweaty and a little tired, Alone Girl and Sister finally arrived at their destination and bought two student tickets to the castle. They walked in awe, admiring the historical importance of the fortress, which was built in 1536. They ran their hands across the series of walls, batteries, and parapets that formed the fortification. The most memorable part was skipping down the pitch-dark maze of tunnels that made up much of the castle’s underground. Because the sun was winning a battle the sisters did not know they had entered into, they bought a cup of freshly squeezed tree tomato juice, sweet and refreshing. After enjoying the fortress as much as a fortress could be enjoyed, it was time to move on. The sisters needed a break from the sun, so they made their way to a multi-story mall. Keeping up with their foodscapade, it was time to get some eats. They shared a massive plate of baked fish topped with shrimps in a creamy coconut sauce, with a side of coconut rice and a salad, a meal that happened to be one of the best the sisters would experience while in Colombia. At a mall!
After enjoying their meal and a little bit of a rest, it was time to do the treachours-ish walk to Cerro de La Popa. La Popa sits at the highest point in Cartagena and contains an exquisite convent and church, for which foreign tourists must pay a small fee in order to gain entrance. The walk included a swirly uphill trek followed by another few minutes up a few flights of steep stairs. The sisters were a little taken aback by the many street dogs; although they were docile, many of them sprawled awkwardly on the ground in random places, as if they had crawled as far as they could before giving out to the heat. They were also very warmed by the the local women who communicated for them to be careful with their belongings, as many touristy places are known to hold wondrous sights as well as muggers waiting to take from unsuspecting foreigners. When the sisters finally got to the top, they were amazed by the views of the city below. The church and convent grounds were beautiful, covered in flowers and a fountain.
It was time to head back. On the way, Alone Girl and Sister stumbled upon one of the best festivals in the world – the local traditional Fried Food Festival! The girls were overwhelmed with stall after stall of vendors selling everything from fried arepas to fried sweets. After (over)indulging in a few treats that included fried cheese and an egg arepa, the girls took a taxi back to their hostel to get ready for their first evening of party time.
The night started epically at Café Del Mar in Old Town: shrimp with a mango sauce, salad and fries, calamari, a prosciutto and chorizo cheese plate, five tequila shots each and a strawberry daiquiri. After consuming all of this yumminess , it was time to add some spice to their life with salsa dancing in Getsemani. The walk back to Getsemani rewarded the sisters with new friends who were also on holiday. At the beautiful Hostel Mamallena, a few steps from the sisters’ hostel, the group became acquainted over a lot of laughs and some drinks. Their new friends in tow, it was time to head to the best dance club in town, which was only two blocks away from their hostel. They danced until the doors closed, but the party continued in the sweltering streets, followed by veggie arepas. Finally, the excitement of the day and the night completely washed over them, and it was time for some night night in the hot rooms of their hostel.
Cost Map in USD:
Meal at Denny’s: $11.40
Student Tickets for the Castle: $5
Tree Tomato Juice: $.98
Lunch at Mall: $10.45
Tickets to La Popa: $6.50
Splurge at Café Del Mar: $93 (pre-tip)
Featured Post Credit: Angela Pham
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