We’d been here before and stayed overnight, so when choosing what tour to reserve this time, we tried to choose something new. Except there wasn’t really anything new on offer, so we simply booked the walking tour, thinking that at least we’d get some exercise.
We arrived to find another of our sister ships in port. We last saw Mariner in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago and it was good to see her again. Actually, the last time we were here in Cartagena, it was on board that very ship.
Cartagena hadn’t changed a great deal, though the main thing which we noted was the difference between this South American city and those we saw in Central America. In a different league, I’d say.
Bearing in mind we’d tried to avoid places we’d been to previously, our hearts sank as we pulled up by St Philips Fortress. It was already hot and the thought of climbing to the top of the structure didn’t appeal one bit.
So I began to take photographs and make a few observations.
Paying particular attention to the statue, really doing my best to avoid the constant stream of vendors selling everything and anything.
With two cruise ships in town, there were plenty of potential customers but some returned to their shady spot to wait for the next group to appear.
Thankfully, our guide M C Victor (!) had no intentions of spending long at the fortress and we were soon on our way again.
As soon as we started to walk, we recalled how much we enjoyed being here in the small, colourful streets, full of flowers.
Offset by that clear blue sky, the colours sing.
The fruit vendors were doing better business than the tourist tat lot.
I was just wishing I could spend longer composing better shots, to capture the colours and the atmosphere more effectively. But Victor kept on walking and we just had to follow.
Even the pavement goods were colourful.
It’s just that sort of city.
Before long, we reached another familiar place. Please, no visit to the Palace of the Inquisition. (I hated it last time)
Thankfully not. We walked through the Square, paid homage to Simon Bolivar up there with a bird on his head and joined in a jolly Salsa lesson.
Well, you know, we seasoned salsa dancers
I admired the bicycle being used as a kind of shop window.
and the row upon row of fabric shoes. But no time to try, or to buy.
Now, we were near the Cathedral.
Well, there was quite a large clue, even if we didn’t go inside.
Instead, we admired the artwork outside. I guess you can tell what you need to rub for good luck?
A few more streets and I had totally lost my bearings. A good job my Hero has an inbuilt compass (and we had Victor to follow)
Next stop was Colon Square, with the statue of Columbus up there, shining white in the sunshine.
And just as we were thinking that we’d done well to avoid the inevitable shopping opportunity, we were led into the Emerald Museum. Hah! As if.
As we walked about the city, we noticed a pair of “painted” statues. you know the kind of thing; they paint themselves all over and then stand still for a while, hoping to gather some money in their pot. Well, two black statues were following us around a bit – they’d pop up here and there and were quite recognisable since one had a fish on a stick and the other, well, he was just the other half! Of course, as soon as we’d noticed them in one place, we spotted them everywhere.
The thing is, they’d discovered a bit of a trick. They’d stand in front of a popular tourist location and then expect money from those taking a photograph. I’m pretty sure that had this sweet family not posed in front of the statue of the Pope as we passed, one of them would have been draped over or around it. They were certainly by the statue of St Francis de Claver – so I’m afraid I just kept on walking. I don’t like being pressured.
Anyway, our walking tour at an end, we jumped on the minibus and drove along the seafront back to the ship. I recalled making a note of these individual sunshades previously. No common or garden umbrellas here!
As we neared the port, we could see the two ships side by side.
Mariner was preparing to leave, and as we got off the bus, we waved goodbye to her. Bon Voyage!
As for me, I had one activity in mind for when we returned. I was going to head straight for the infinity pool!
As I enjoyed the fresh blue water and admired the beautiful tile work, I took a few more photos to share in a post tomorrow.
It was utter bliss!