Sunday, July 8, 2018

Cartagena, Colombia! Wow, just wow! Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's been a bit busy, and I haven't had time to write about the next few days of our Windstar Cruise!  I've been wanting to share out day in Colombia, but I didn't want to start and then have to stop, because it was definitely one of my absolute favorite cruise ports ever! Actually, totally unexpected! It will probably take a few posts to go through what we did that day, as we had a really long day in port, and I want to say, we saw it all!  Our ship was in port from 8:30 am to 10:00 pm.  We were lucky to have such a long day to be able to really explore this amazing city of Cartagena!

As we started to near Colombia, various skylines came into view.

I'm not sure that this was Cartagena, we still sailed for quite a bit before docking. But it was a beautiful day!

As we were waiting to get off our ship, we talked to a few of the other passengers about what they were doing. Most it seemed had chosen to do the excursions that Windstar offered.  These seemed like ok options.  They offered a carriage ride through the Old Town, a bus tour, a coffee tour.  As well as  few other options.  But Lisa and I wanted more!  We wanted a full day tour where we could combine the Old Town as well as newer Cartagena and we wanted to taste the coffee and see the Emeralds! If we were going to be in port until 10:00 pm, we didn't only want a 4 hour tour.  So I found a wonderful tour guide and she spent all day with us taking us to where we felt like was everywhere!

The first thing that was super unique to this port was that when we disembarked, the walk from the ship to the area where you meet your guides or taxi, or tours was almost a botanical garden and had beautiful birds and some other animals!  It was a great welcome to the country!

We had a bit of a struggle finding our guide. There was a lot of confusion once we got through the birds and monkeys - out to the area where the drivers were.  It took us quite some time and going back to the port area, making some phone calls, getting help from some people working there, but finally we connected and all was well.  It was a little stressful to start with!  But once we were in our car, she started the day by giving us some artwork that her husband had painted!  She had prints of original art that he painted, one for each of us.  Very nice!

Our first stop would be La Popa Monastery.  This monastery dates back to 1607 and in February each year there is a pilgrimage to the top of the hill of the Popa.  There is a beautiful view from here and the building is beautiful as well!

This is the courtyard inside the Monsatery

 See our ship docked there?

Our next stop was a quick visit to hear the story of the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. The construction on this fortress began in 1536 and it was expanded through the years. 

From the fort we walked through the courtyard of a University in the center of the town. 

At each of the places that we visited our guide told us the history of the buildings and what was going on currently, as well as some stories about the area.  She was fantastic!

Our next stop was the Casa de Rafael Nunez. Rafael Nunez was one of the most significant people in Colombia's history. He was elected president four times and is remembered for ending the bloody period of chaos and internal wars in the 1800s.  He was also a journalist, poet, author of the Colombian National Anthem, creator of the National Bank and the mastermind of its Constitution!  He was a busy man!

There are nice squares, or parks scattered about.... like this one, and maybe when we went through here there might have been some story or something significant that we were told, but it's been too long now for me to remember!

But I do remember that these are what are used to make maracas!

Next up.... lunch, old town...and Emeralds!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Another day at Sea, and dinner at Candles 11/29/18

Today was another of our relaxing days at sea. This was the life. We were very much enjoying life on a sailing yacht! 

Lisa and I had our routine already. We had breakfast on the Veranda each morning. The service was amazing. The staff had a way of making you feel as if you were their only guests, as if this was your private yacht! They were here for you. You almost forgot that in a few days someone else would be sitting in these seats and they would already have remembered just how that new person takes their coffee and that they liked iced tea with their lunch! 

We spent the afternoon reading and cooling off in the pool. 

Tonight we had dinner at the "specialty" restaurant, Candles. Candles is the outdoor dining on the Windstar line. It requires reservations only so that all guests are guaranteed the experience during the cruise. There is no additional fee for this specialty dining. The pool deck/bar area is transformed to a dining area in the evening and the meal was delicious! 

The grill is set up, and your steak or fish is grilled to order.

This was a shrimp cocktail appetizer.

Tonight was the Windstar Crew Show. By this point in the cruise, we had gotten to know most of the crew, so the show was a lot of fun to watch!  We decided that Windstar must only hire talented employees because the show was wonderful!  

We were glad for our relaxing day today, as tomorrow we knew would be a busy day of touring!  We are docking in Cartagena, Colombia!  We were really looking forward to that!