Cartagena: a love affair on the Caribbean coast.

Every summer has a story. My story last summer was a romance. In the summer of 2015 I fell in love.

I’m not sure whether it was the hot and sweaty sunsets, the sexy salsa backing track, or knocking back copious amounts of rum (or, perhaps, a combination of all three), but I fell head over heels. Hard and fast. This wasn’t just your typical holiday romance though, as this wasn’t just your typical holiday.

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It was a love/hate relationship – I loved every second we were together, I hated having to say “adiós”.

Long after my return to the UK I would think of my love, usually while staring out the window at the wet winter that was upon us. I would dream of being back on the beach, laughing carelessly, salt on my skin and the sun bleaching my hair.

Walking away was tough, but I knew I would always have the memories.

I would always have Cartagena.

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*****

Colombia is not a traditional tourist hot spot for Brits – though neither is it your typical traveller destination.

Last year, when I announced that I would be travelling to the country as part of my 12 countries in 12 months mission, I was met with mixed response. While some shared my excitement to explore somewhere a little less mainstream, others retorted with comments about crime, corruption and cocaine.

“Be careful,” they said.

You can’t ignore the fact that Colombia has a bad reputation. And these days Netflix’s Narcos is probably just as much to blame as drug baron Pablo Escobar’s legacy for the immediate nervousness when someone even suggests they may travel there. But how much truth is there in the tales of unruly drug cartels and merciless kidnappings?

As a young(ish), female solo traveller heading to the South American country for the first time, I was told to be on guard, vigilant and to “stay safe”. Other travel blogs gave helpful advice, while the Colombian families I stayed with warned me about possible scams and potential threats.

But nobody warned me about how bewitching Colombia is. There was no advice or counsel for this. And by the time I reached Cartagena, I was infatuated. I fell in love.

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55 thoughts on “Cartagena: a love affair on the Caribbean coast.

  1. Oh my goodness, it sounds so incredible! I’d love to visit Cartagena one day – everyone I know who has been has told me it’s just one of the most beautiful places in the world ☺

  2. The Feature picture is beyond stunning, what a fabulous place and it sure looks like you had an amazing time 🙂

  3. I have to say that Colombia would not be top of my list to visit because I would assume that it would be dangerous. Considering that I grew up in Belfast at the height of The Troubles this is pretty shortsighted of me, I admit. Looking forward to reading more and finding out about your trip.

  4. I have often thought about travelling to Columbia but have read too much negative literature on it. I’m not usually the sorts who gets discouraged from travelling to a place because of its bad reputation but when I travel alone, I have to be sure I go someplace I am comfortable and not anxious in. Your post is definitely encouraging and I’m looking for such positive things to motivate me to go. Thanks for sharing. X

  5. I love this. Same thing happened when I went to Edinburgh and I did not expect it at all. Thanks for the inspiration to get my ass to Columbia!!

  6. I loved Cartegena, I have to admit I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked but loved the time I spent there…by the way when you say Rum, it wouldn’t happen to be Santa Fe rum now would it 😛 And you are so right, I didn’t think I Colombia would rise to one of my favorite countries, I ended up living in Bogota for a while, love the country and the people, can’t wait to go back there haha 😀

  7. Cartagena is a really bewitching city. I truly feel like it’s all the colourful buildings that sucked me in, although I know others are really taken with the tropical weather and beaches. You are right that Colombia has a really negative reputation, which I think is so undeserved. I travelled there for a month and never felt any more unsafe than I have in Southeast Asia, for example.

    Personally the heat and humidity in Cartagena is excessive for me, but I would love to go back in the wet season maybe and experience it again.

  8. Isn’t it amazing how travel can take your breath away? I love exploring new cities and just getting out there.

  9. I’ve never been to Cartagena but it looks truly amazing. I only knew of it from the old Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner movie Romancing The Stone (which is a great movie in and of itself!) I will have to put it on my list of places to travel to!

  10. Cartagena sounds so amazing. The warmth, the beaches, the sun and water. I know I would love it as well. I feel if one is careful and pays attention to their surroundings they will be fine. Trouble, I feel, comes to trouble. What a beautiful stay you must have had.

  11. What a wonderful blessing that you are out seeing the world!!! I am intrigued by yiur photos and descriptions of places I hope to see someday.

  12. I love that despite concerns you visited Columbia anyway and fell in love with it. It sounds like your wanderlust is in full swing, enjoy all the memories.

  13. Cartagena is so beautiful place, I would love to visit it. The pictures look so beautiful, it would be a perfect destination for sun, sand, and relaxation.

  14. The best vacation is a vacation you don’t want to leave. I have enjoyed all of mine and would even like to go back to a few places and see them again. I would love to visit 12 countries in 12 months!! Safe travels and enjoy yourself.

  15. I’ve never been to Cartagena. I think it’s a beautiful place and I understand why you fell in love with it so easily. I’ve always enjoyed places like this!

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