Cartagena: Within the Walled City

Our last night we stayed in the walled city.

Inside the walled city

Inside the walled city

Walking through the city

Walking through the city

 We had quite an adventure trying to find dinner that night.  After checking into our hotel we loaded the kids up in the stroller and walked outside the walls to what looked like a promising restaurant on TripAdvisor.  We walked up and down the dark street, navigating piles of trash along the broken up pieces of sidewalk.  Cartagena wasn’t unlike most other cities we’d visited in South America in that respect.  We finally gave up locating the restaurant and headed back to the walled city.  We thought we’d have an easier time finding a good eatery there, but it also proved challenging.  Eventually, we stumbled upon a tiny local, over-decorated and somewhat dusty Colombian restaurant.  The food was decent, and at that point we didn’t really care too much anyways!  It was bedtime already for the kids, so we ordered some coconut rice as soon as we sat down in our chairs and they started chowing down.  Coconut rice was the kids favorite Colombian treat (after Arepas, of course).  It was browned and sweet, cooked in coconut water, and went great with the local whole fried fish they served up in Cartagena.  Dinner was long and a little painful with two very sleepy toddlers, but we survived!  The next morning we got an early start.  The breakfast at the hotel was wonderful and the kids loved all the fresh juices.  After that, we started out on a walk around the Walled City.

Walking through the city

Walking through the city

At the edge of the city

At the edge of the city

The lookouts were really fun to see.  Took us a while to find an empty one!  Popular place!

Hola!

Hola!

Hanging out in the sun

Hanging out in the sun

 From the opening you could see the Caribbean, just across the road.  It was hot, hot, hot, by this time.  We were glad for a little shade.

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

In the lookout

In the lookout

Enjoying Cartagena

Enjoying Cartagena

 We’d promised the kids another ice cream popsicle, so we headed back to the center of the city.

Cliff loves "caballos"

Cliff loves “caballos”

At the city's center

Livi and daddy

Buying some fresh squeezed orange juice

Buying some fresh squeezed orange juice

Enjoying the city

Enjoying the city

 While we were waiting for it to open, we grabbed some iced coffees for us adults at a delicious local coffee shop.

Being "patient" in the coffee shop

Being “patient” in the coffee shop

Iced Colombian coffee!

Iced Colombian coffee!

 The kids were good, with the promise of ice cream looming, and soon they were holding their fruity ice cream pops.

La Paletteria

La Paletteria

Delicious ice cream popsicles

Delicious ice cream popsicles

Happy kids

Happy kids

 It was almost time for us to leave this beautiful place, but we had one more fun thing planned….the hotel pool.

Splish-splash!

Splish-splash!

Fun times!

Fun times!

 Just seconds after this picture, Cliff plummeted into the water.  He’s a tough boy though, and was laughing it off just a few minutes later.

Fun with daddy

Fun with daddy

 Olivia was super excited to get to use her “eye-gols” again.  Those kids crack me up sometimes.  It was a great end to our time in Colombia.

Beautiful warm people and bright colors

Beautiful warm people and bright colors

We’d really enjoyed this country!

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Cartagena: San Felipe de Barajas Castle

Our third day in Cartagena, Colombia we toured the San Felipe de Barajas Castle, or Fort, as our tour guide stressed.

San Felipe de Barajas Castle

San Felipe de Barajas Castle

The fort

The fort

This castle was hard to imagine anyone living in, and surely was not meant for luxurious living; but it was a very strong, obvious fortress.  There were dozens of cannons stationed throughout the fort (or trains, as Cliff was convinced).

Cliff and the canon

Cliff and the cannon

Ready, aim, pose!

Ready, aim, pose!

The sun felt unbearably hot by just 10am and we did our best to stay shaded.

Cool in the shade

Cool in the shade

Little man

Little man

The heat just seemed to be reflected back at us from the stone under our feet.

Trying to stay cool in the hot sun

Trying to stay cool in the hot sun

Beneath the fort was a maze of tunnels (which added to Cliff’s belief that the cannons were trains).  They provided a nice respite from the heat.

Down into the tunnel

Down into the tunnel

Tunnels!

Tunnels!

The guide explained to us that when the fort was under attack, men with muskets would hide in the little alcoves, waiting for enemy attackers to walk by them.

In the tunnel alcoves

In the tunnel alcoves

In the tunnels

In the tunnels

There was a great view from the top of the fort and the Colombian flag was really beautiful against the backdrop of the city.

The top of the fort

The top of the fort

Colombian flag

Colombian flag

Near the end of the tour we spotted some large iguanas in the grassy square beneath the fort.

Iguanas

Iguanas

The kids did great for this tour, but if we had it to do over, we would definitely go in the early morning or the evening, as the sun was setting.  Cartagena was sure proving to be a warm place!

Touring the fort!

Touring the fort!

In case you missed our first two days in Cartagena, you can read them here and here.

Cartagena: the Caribbean

Our second full day in Cartagena, we decided to do a boat tour. Looking back, we probably should have planned it better and done a little more research for a good, fast boat. It took over 3 hours to reach the first stop. The island we visited first had a little “SeaWorld” type show and tanks of fish and sea turtles.

Sea turtles

Sea turtles

Watching the sea turtles

Watching the sea turtles

Watching the sharks

Watching the sharks

There were even dolphins!

Showing Cliff the dolphin

Showing Cliff the dolphin

Though we hadn’t planned on doing the show, we actually enjoyed it. These sharks had been trained to all climb up the side of this platform on command, and then go back into the water after feeding.

The sharks

The sharks

There was a dolphin show at the end that the kids really liked, too.

The dolphin show

The dolphin show

Jumping

Jumping

It was a cool experience, even if it was pretty commercialized.

Next, we made for the real island – Playa Blanca. By this time we were starving because it was after 2pm and we’d boarded the ship at 9am.  We’d been on the boat a long time!

Almost to land!

Almost to land!

Changing a diaper....real life

Changing a diaper on the ship….real life

We were so happy when we saw land. We took small ferries to the shore of the island.  It was a bit scary, since the waves were so rocky!  Thankfully there were plenty of helpful people as I boarded the small ferry with Olivia sleeping in my arms.  Lunch was local fish and some plantains and rice, which was pretty good. We finally got beach time after that.

On the beach

On the beach

Building huge sandcastles

Building huge sandcastles

The waves were crazy big, so the kids didn’t spend much time in the water, but we all had fun building sandcastles and watching the tide come in and wash them out.

Cliff wasn't so sure about the sand

Cliff wasn’t so sure about the sand

We only had an hour on the beach before time to leave for the long ride back to Cartagena. At least we didn’t have too much time in the sun! It was a long day, and all of us were glad to be on dry land after all that rocking!  This was our second full day in Cartagena; to read about our first day click here.