This is what World Cruising is all about. After 2 years of not leaving Europe, you forget the adrenalin rush of visiting somewhere so utterly different from your own home. And, if you’re looking for an exotic destination with warm tropical weather, amazing history, and a pulsating street life, then Cartagena in Colombia is hard to beat.
You just have to look at the amount of work the Spanish put into protecting this colonial gem of a city back in the 17th and 18th centuries, to know that Cartagena was an incredibly valuable possession. The galleons that set sail from here back to Spain would have been full of precious gold and silver that would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s money – the values of each ship’s treasures are mind-boggling.
We explored the rambling ramparts of the simply enormous San Felipe Fortress, and walked alongside sections of the 7 miles of thick walls that surrounded the Old Town. And, what they enclosed was pretty special – a superbly-preserved collection of colourful colonial houses, lavish churches, and huge palacios that were so evocative of times gone by.
But, rather than being just a living museum, the thing that marks Cartagena as special is its local colour and vibrant street life. We got a glimpse into this with an amazing World Cruise Event that was full of music and dance – pulsating drums that turned our walk from our outside venue to the restaurant into a full-on street carnival. After so many months of lockdown, this was a joyous sensory overload!
Our second morning here was a much more sedate affair – perking ourselves up with a demonstration of Colombian Coffee. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but it was interesting to learn about, and it gave me a much-needed boost of caffeine to re-invigorate myself after last night’s energy-sapping fiesta. When your city’s as lively as Cartagena, no wonder the locals are addicted to coffee.
What a great way to start the 2022 World Cruise.