A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling down to South America with three of my closest friends and experience the beautiful city of Cartagena, Colombia. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in partnership with JetBlue Getaways. Just a quick six-hour flight from Boston, this was the perfect getaway before the New England winter arrived.
First stop was the Old City. As soon as you step into this beautiful walled city you feel like you're back 200 years. The horse-drawn carriages around every corner, colorful architecture, and some of the best Colombian restaurants; there is a reason this is a top spot for tourists.
Within the walled city is the Sofitel Santa Clara. Be sure to add this to your list. Deep tissue massages are a must. The US dollar is so strong, an hour long massage will only end up costing around $60 dollars, and I can guarantee it will be one of the best massages you'll ever have. Afterwards you can hang around the pool and drink pina coladas and maybe even grab a bite at the restaurant.
The streets are full of character. For the most part the people are very kind and friendly. But be wary when your cab driver gives you change back, because he'll "accidentally" short you if you don't count.
I still hate cats.
By far my favorite place in the entire city was a little cafe and cocktail bar called El Baron. Unfortunately, we didn't discover this gem until the third day, but had I known sooner I would've spent every night there. We had the pleasure of meeting with the owner, Juan David, who gave us a full tasting of the menu. The coffee, the food, and the cocktails, everything was absolutely incredible. Oh, and not to mention the decor. These floor tiles had me from the moment I stepped in. Literally.
In a city thats incredibly casual and t-shirt friendly, (due to the fact its 90 degrees and 90% humidity almost every day), the bartenders here dress as well as any speak-easy in lower Manhattan.
This is the Colombian version of an Old Fashioned, complete with a flaming tobacco leaf. Did I mention how much I love this place?
I'll let the food speak for itself.
There is plenty of seating outside as well. If you're lucky you might just get serenaded.
A trip to Colombia wouldn't be complete without some Cuban cigars. Luckily, the best shop in the city is just a few blocks from El Baron. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name at the moment. There was a photo of Bill Clinton on the wall though, maybe you can ask him.
Finding attractive women in Colombia is like finding apples in a grocery store. This one also just happened to be a terrific tour guide, and told us all the in'n outs of the Getsemani scene.
Finding locals is definitely key to having a good time. I'm a bit skeptical about everything and everyone, but if you can get over that for a second, you'll find yourself in some incredible places.
Terms to know: ¿Cuanto Cuesto? : how much
Uno mas : one more (typically referring to mojitos)
And that's really all you need to know — Ciao