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!
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!
But I do remember that these are what are used to make maracas!
Next up.... lunch, old town...and Emeralds!