Day 2 – Sweets and Rain
The goal of day 2 was to explore Cartagena’s main attraction, the historic old town. The old city is the crown jewel of Cartagena, and it is surrounded by city walls topped with cannons. Pastry shops, street vendors, restaurants, and colonial homes, line the streets, and the Caribbean charm will take your breath away.
Boca del Puente
There are beaucoup entrances into the walled city, but the most famous and oldest one is the Boca del Puente or The Clock Tower. The four faces of this giant yellow tower all feature clocks that tell a different time. As you pass under the clock, you’ll see vendors selling hats, fabrics, and other knick-knacks. After you are inside the old city, you’ll enter Plaza de los Coches which used to be where slaves were traded and now features a statue of Pedro De Heredia (the founder of Cartagena).
Portal de los Dulces
Just beyond the statue is the arched walkway Portal de los Dulces or the Sweets Hall. If you have a sweet tooth and want to experience some authentic sweets of Cartagena, then this is heaven. Vendors selling all kinds of confectionary treats and desserts made of tropical fruit such as mango, guava, coconut, and pineapple line the walkway. My favorites are all of the Cocadas or Crusty Coconuts that come in all shapes and flavors. Yum! I’m drooling just thinking back on it.
Make sure to explore the sights, smells, and sounds of old town. I suggest making a left of Calle 34 and then a right on Carrera 5. You’ll pass vendors selling fruit on carts, tiny shops selling empanadas, souvenirs shops, and regular shops where the locals do their shopping. A cup of freshly cut ripe mango is one of the best “snacks” to get in Cartagena. And that is exactly what I got here. It was only around $1 USD and gave me that kick that only comes from the sweetest and juiciest mangoes.
Rain Rain Go Away!
As luck would have it, rain was in the forecast and the forecast sure came true. The locals told me that it rarely rains in Cartagena, so I guess today was one of those rare occasions. The rain started slowly but quickly turned into a full-blown monsoon making the whole ordeal very adventurous. We quickly hailed a taxi, and soon we felt like we were on a boat in a lake rather than in a cab on the road. The cars were pushing water like jet skis, and people on motorcycles had their feet on their handlebars! It was quite astonishing to see so much rain come down so quickly.
Restaurante La Casa de Socorro
Since we were getting hungry, we had the taxi drop us off at a popular restaurant. Even the heavy rain can’t keep hungry guys from food! The driver dropped us off at Restaurante La Casa de Socorro, and we quickly stormed inside to dodge the rain. I tried the Limonada De Coco (Coconut Lemonade) which is a refreshing mix of lemonade and cream of coconut and the Lomo a La Criolla (loin steak creole) that was perfectly spicy.
Graffiti in Cartagena’s Getsemani Neighborhood
After the rain subsided, I decided to do a little self-guided walking tour and check out some of the graffiti in the Getsemani neighborhood. The graffiti was truly impressive. And, it wasn’t just here and there. Street art covered the area. The rich and vibrant works of art really added character to the neighborhood.