Sunday, October 3, 2010

Off Season: Cartagena

I’ve been living in the Wandering Paisa house since August. Of course, it isn’t ready yet, but I’ve got my humble little setup that you can see here:
 At times, the 6:30am arrival of the workers doing renovations and the subsequent dust flying around the house really gets to me. The fact that my girlfriend Elizabeth recently arrived was confirmation enough that we needed to take a little time away from the house. Back to the Caribbean Coast, we decided; especially since us both grinding it out workwise had racked up some serious R&R hours. Amazingly, our last minute flight from Medellín to Cartagena cost only $80,  meaning if we had planned ahead we could have gotten it for as low as $45 (Colombia has some of the cheapest domestic airfares I’ve ever seen). We flew into Cartagena under the guise of night and made our way wandering through the romantic walled center of the city. I had noticed that 3 or 4 new hostels had sprung up in the city over the past few months to complement the varying degrees of tourist accommodations in the city.

The hostels on the Carribean coast are generally a little more rustic that in Medellín or Bogotá: simpler bunks, less services and cold showers (which are actually great in the Caribbean heat). With this comes reduced prices, and during the off season, they are certainly low. Elizibeth and I paid $7 each for a bunk bed in Hostal San Blas in the colorful barrio of Getsemaní. The great thing about Getsemaní is it’s walking proximity to nearly all of the tourist attractions, its only drawback is lack of a decent beach. For my first time, we headed to Boca Grande (picture the Miami Beach of Cartagena). The prices of the restaurants, I found a little ridiculous ($10-20 a plate compared to $3-7 in Getsemaní), but this is the place for your parents or grandparents to stay when they visit. Despite the increased number of “corredores” offering just about whatever service you could want, I negotiated two massages on the beach for Elizabeth and I for $17. We walked over to the end of Boca Grande and watched the sunset in the reflection of the Islas del Rosario; one of the most vibrant sunsets I’ve seen in ages. I’d forgotten how much I really enjoy the Caribbean, especially at off-season prices.

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