San Gil is the hilly, outdoor capital of Colombia, known for its white-water rafting and cheap paragliding. Arriving on a Sunday there wasn’t much to do so we listed to Ivan, the owner of Santander Aleman, and wandered about town (he was super, super nice and even gave us bracelets the color of the Colombian flag when we departed- we heart Ivan!!!!).
I was all about testing out the Class V rapids of Rio Suarez, but sadly there was too much rain and the river was too dangerous to raft. Finally I am in a place with good rapids and they are too good—boo!
The bargain paragliding was also a bust due to the weather so we really didn’t get to fully take advantage of San Gil. Thank god for Ivan and his breakfast--- he made it worth the stop!!
Apart from Parque de Bolivar which was pretty sketchy (more prostitutes), I kinda liked Medellin. Their metro is great, but we never sampled the cable car since the purpose seems to be to transport poor people back to the slums atop the hill—perhaps not so scenic and voyeuristic?
Based on universally rave reviews, we stayed at Buddha House outside the city center. I am not exactly sure what the raves were all about? It was very far from the center (subway AND bus), up a steep hill, totally disorganized, isolated from everything and apparently I was allergic to all the surrounding nature. One day was enough before we moved to a place in El Pablado, aka zona rosa where all the action happens.
It was a LONG early morning drive to the airport to catch our flight to Cartagena, via Bogota. Can anyone explain why we would need to get out of the teeny tiny taxi while they pumped gas?? Despite Evaline’s nervousness, we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare (time reinvested in eating a jelly donut from Dunkin).
Cartagena is another colonial city, but this one is on the Caribbean Sea surrounded by 13km of colonial stonewalls (damn pirates and Sir Francis Drake!) and is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site (really, what isn’t?)
The old town is incredibly picturesque and charming. Lovely churches and mansions. Cobblestones. Plazas. Bougainvillea. Vibrant colors. No, Michael Douglas did not whisk me off my rooftop, but I loved it anyway. It is hard not to love!
The Plaza de Bolivar is probably my favorite even if it does border the Palacio de la Inquisicion where those convicted of magic, witchcraft and blasphemy were condemned to death and executed.
They also had great music everywhere a la Cuba- really like Cuba at Cafe Havana, minus the $3 mojitos (Cartagena is not a bargain). Mister Babilla was a fun club playing all my Latin reggaeton faves that I now have on my iPod- we left at 3am and it showed no signs of slowing down. Café del Mar was a lounge atop the old city walls- cool!
The only thing that was disappointing was the shopping, especially all the tourist crap at Las Bovedas, shops housed in 23 dungeons built into the city walls and once used as a jail during the republican era.