Some cities are hard to leave behind. Trust me Cartegna is one of them!There is something magical about the city that makes you feel alive, happy and peaceful at the same time.
Maybe it’s the colors of the old city or the most delicious sea food or the vibe of the locals. Might be the combination of all!
Colors of the streets pops as if you saturated them in photoshop. Mini boutiques stands out within that crazy colors as well. Every corner has another fruit card where you can taste freshest tropical fruits that are presented as bouqettes. Sea food – hands down the freshest, cleanest and most delicious I have ever tasted.
City only speaks Spanish but guess what even if you don’t know the language you get along with body language. Might get a little tricky trying to read Spanish menus but hey we have google translator in our pockets, right?
Old Town is where you want to stay!
To be at the heart of everything and feel really local. You may not event need a fancy hotel since all you wanna do is to get out and get lost in the streets. Fantastic AirBnb options might be all you need to also get a little bit of behind the scenes to all those amazing houses of Cartegna.
Where to eat:
One of the cities signature restaurants: “La Cevicheria” recommended by Anthony Bourdain. Needless to stay that ceviches are amazing but I had the best Paella ever. No offense but might be even better than Barcelona.
Colombian-born, San-Sebastian trained chef at Donjuan will be one of the strongest options for a slightly fancy dinner since the chef cooked at Michelin-rated Arzak before. Reservation is a must in that place because you won’t be able to hang out at the bar and just wait. They lock the doors for the non-reservation holders and you can’t get in until your table is ready. Trust me, I thought that it was a joke.
A hidden gem, super duper tiny 16 people seating spot that also requires reservation is El Boliche Cebicheria. Slightly more creative cuisine than any other places. Modernized with the presentation but still so yumm. With one note though, make sure you allocate enough time to sit and wait for your food since order take a while to get ready and not everything in the menu is available all the time.
La Paletteria is your spot for popsicles in a hot day. Just the display in the store can drive you crazy with tons of options. You just wanna eat them all!
Pasteleria Mila for a refreshing frozen mango smoothie. Plus if you want have an amazing #ihavethisthingwiththefloors post, that’s the spot. You know what I mean when you get there
Mercado De Bazurta is where the craziness is. It’s where the cooks go early in the morning to pick up their fresh fish, meat as well as fruit. Only locals, not much tourists around so you feel like all eyes are on you all the time. It is breath-taking with all the freshness as well as intense at the same time since at some parts of the market you walk in between eye balls [for real] and chopped fish heads. So just get ready to that reality since it is caotic and intense.
Café Del Mar is for afternoon sunset sessions where Café Havana is your dance spot. With local band on stage, all you do is dance and practice your salsa skills. Everybody is at Club Havana to dance and no one is shy to take you for dancing and enjoy salsa. It has massive energy where you just don’t wanna leave and dance all night long.
Okay with everything said, one thing that you should know is Cartegna is not a beach city. If you want to lay down on the white sand and relax than you should take the boat and drive fifty to sixty minutes to Cholon or Playa de Azur. Cholon is the crowded, a little touristy one where Playa de Azur is more private. When you arrive, you will be placed in one of the tables facing the water and get served freshly picked Oysters, shrimp, fish or the best crab meat you can ever have in your life. I was blown away!!! Look at that simplicity…
Long story short, after spending five days in Cartegna, my heart is still there and I’m officially in LOVE with it. If you are planning to escape somewhere sunny, there is no place better:) until I explore a new gem;)
Btw, if you go to a mini gift shop, one thing that will definitely catch you attention is the tee’s thats reads : “Colombia not Columbia”