Today, @theregoesdina will tell us about her trip to Cartagena, Colombia.
Welcome to the community!
Tell us about yourself, about where you come from and about how and when did your passion for traveling start?
Hi! My name is Merdina Walcott. Currently, I work for the City of New York as a Housing Specialist/Liaison for victims of domestic violence. I was born and raised in the beautiful twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. When I was younger, I took a few trips with my church to different Caribbean islands like Jamaica and Grenada. But it wasn’t until I moved to the US and I took a trip to Paris and Rome one summer that I officially got bitten by the travel bug.
Today you are going to share your recent trip to Cartagena. How did you decide on this location?
Well, I’m a very spontaneous traveler, so I while I do have set places I want to visit, I’m down for exploring everywhere! Normally when I know I have the time off, I look for affordable places to visit, at the time I saw a deal for Cartagena. After I did a little research, it looked like a great place to visit so I booked it!
Tell us a little about your trip.
It was a quick getaway I planned with my best friend. She was only now getting her feet wet in the travel pool and we only had a few days to spare, so we needed somewhere close by. I myself always like to take trips to the less traveled countries, so I didn’t want to do Dominican Republic, Mexico or Jamaica again. When Cartagena, Colombia popped up on my radar I was excited.
How did you travel to the location? Where did you stay? Is there/how is the transportation there? Did you use an agency, a guide or you did it all yourself?
I have nothing against travel agents, but I just love the thrill of finding and booking deals on my own. In addition to being a travel addict I’m also a bargain hunter, so the joy of finding an error fare, or getting up at 2am on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning to get the package deal $200 dollars cheaper than it was a few hours ago is just as exciting as the actual trip for me. I got this deal on Expedia.com and we traveled via Jet Blue airlines and we stayed at Hotel Capilla Del Mar a great modern hotel right next to Bocagrande Beach. We noticed few buses in the area but we mostly walked or took taxis since everything was nearby.
Could you explore on your own? How was the language barrier?
You can certainly explore the city on your own. Many of the locals speak English, and the area is really compact, so once you learn your landmarks it’s easy to find your way around.
Was the trip mostly sightseeing, or you enjoyed activities and shows as well?
Cartagena is definitely more of a sightseeing city. From the Walled City and its’ beautiful architecture to the Forts overlooking the ocean, and the street art in the Getsemani neighborhood. It’s a great city to simply just walk around. On our first night, there we took one of those party bus tours of the city. It was really fun, music was good, the food was great and we got a good idea of the set-up of the city. We also did a boat tour out to ‘Isla Del Encanto’, a beautiful island on the outskirts of the country. And we also did a tour to ‘Volcan De Totumo’ which is a mud volcano that you can actually float in and the mud is said to do wonders for your skin.
What surprised you there in a good way? Any strange/unpleasant experience?
At this point in my travel experience, nothing “surprises” me anymore. I always go with an open mind. In fact, when I travel now I look forward to the things that are different or out of the norm so that I can learn more about the culture. One thing that might surprise some people is how beautiful the city is. A lot of people hear Colombia and all they think is “drugs and slums” (I realized this when I told some of my very closed minded coworkers I was going there) But Cartagena is nothing like that. It’s beautiful and very touristy!
What did you learn from the culture and/or the locals?
I learned from the locals never trust the weather report! The day before we wanted to book the tour to Isla Del Encanto the forecast said it would rain all day and we didn’t want to spend a rainy day on an island. I remember I mentioned it to the hotel concierge, he stepped from behind his desk walked out the door of the hotel, looked up at the sky then came back and said “No! No rain tomorrow. A few clouds but no rain. Weather report never right” I’m so glad we listened to him because he was so right. Also, buy anything you need outside the Walled City it’s almost always cheaper.
Did you enjoy the cuisine there? Which were your favorite dishes?
I loved the ceviche! And the fresh fruits were the same ones I grew up on back home in Trinidad, seeing a man with a cart selling green plums was so nostalgic. I was eating plums the whole time I was there. I even brought some back home for friends. My favorite dish was ‘Mote de Queso”, a cheese and yam soup that I was so sure I would not like but ended up loving. Cheers to trying new things!
What was your favorite sight/thing in Cartagena?
As much as I love the beach and I loved visiting Isla Del Encanto, the Walled City was hands down my favorite sight. The buildings were so beautifully and colorfully painted, adorned with beautiful flowers and the most ornate front doors. It’s an aesthetic photographer’s dream.
Why should people visit it?
Why not? If you live in NYC or nearby and you want a quick getaway to somewhere with both Spanish and Caribbean influences, great food, great beaches, beautiful scenery, friendly people and great pics for your Instagram page or blog, Cartagena is the place.
Any tips for future visitors? Anything you would have love to know/be prepared for before arriving?
Do you have a bucket list? What are some things/places on it?
I wouldn’t say I have a bucket list. I want to go EVERYWHERE that is reasonably safe to for me to visit. But I do have a bias for natural wonders. Things like the Northern Lights, Salar De Uyuni (the salt flat in Bolivia) and Victoria Falls are some of the things I’d love to see before I leave this earth.
Was is your next adventure? Anything planned yet?
Well, my birthday is July but I’m still really undecided. It could be a combo of South Africa and Mauritius or Sri Lanka and The Maldives……or it could be somewhere else altogether. Stay tuned to find out!
How can we see more about you and your trips? what is your website or/and social media?
I don’t have a blog, but you can follow me on Instagram under the handle @theregoesdina
Hope you liked this post. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate in commenting below or contact me. If you want to collaborate in the blog, with your experiences or your trip’s photos, get in touch!