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    • Day 9

      Cartagena, Columbia

      December 28, 2023 in Colombia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

      Bob and I both chose to do the Rosario Island Tour excursion.
      We departed the ship into a very industrial port. It reminded us of home with identical cranes and the so very soothing noise of backup warning signals on forklifts.
      That being said, the Port of Cartagena was very clean and well appointed. There was a charming historic building at the end of the pier which was also adorned with planters containing luscious tropical plants. At the entrance to the port, the Columbians developed a "Port Oasis" which hosts numerous tropical birds, reptiles and plants.
      Our excursion group was split into two groups. We boarded our boats and off we went.
      We sailed by a fort at the entrance to the bay where Cartagena is located. There are actually 2 forts, one in each side of the channel. This allowed canons to be fired from both sides providing a very effective defensive strategy.
      After an hour boat ride in which several people were turning green around the gills, we arrived at the Rosario Islands. We sailed by several small islands which only had one or two villas. Hermit that I am, I thought this would be an ideal place to live. I even found a fixer upper.
      Next we sailed by Pablo Escabar's abandoned villa (white building with large buoy in front pictured below) on our way to our snorkeling spot.
      Unfortunately, the reef was not very healthy and there were relatively few fish. We did see one huge school of fish 🐟🐟 with probably close to 100 fish. But, again, I was in the water so I was happy.
      The day continued with us stopping at a local bar like none other we have ever been to. This bar was located on a rocky outcropping. We had a glass of champagne but avoided any of the snacks and located a crab in the tide pool.
      The subsequent stop was at another island's beach resort where we had brunch and basked under a palapa.
      After about an hour, we boarded our boat for the hour boat ride back to the port. Bob and I decided to take one for the team and sit in the bow of the boat where the ride is a bit more intense than in the stern.
      When we got back to the port, we quickly walked through the Port Oasis and took some quick photos of some tropical birds.
      Back onboard the Neptune, we showered and headed to dinner at the Chef's table for Norwegian themed menu. This was one of the best dinners we have had anywhere onboard.
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    • Day 135

      Cartagena II

      January 7, 2023 in Colombia ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

      We slept in a bit but it was a bit difficult finding sleep in the hostel we were staying at because it has a patio so when someone talks in the lower floor or lobby the sound is transported and magnified to our room 🙄 But we were tired and needed the sleep... In the morning we checked if we could stay another night because there were a few things we'd like to see and one day wasn't enough. Unfortunately our hostel and also almost everything else in the whole city center has been booked out 🙈 So we packed our stuff and wanted to check other hostels but when we came to the lobby, the receptionist greeted us with the good news that someone had cancelled and we could stay 😮‍💨 We'd have probably found something, but like this it was a lot easier...

      Then we went out to explore the old city that we had a little glimpse of yesterday at night. Just about 200m away from the hostel we walked through a park where a little crowd had gathered. On closer inspection there was a super active sloth 🦥 climbing through the tree 😍 On his way it was disturbing the chilling iguanas and we feared for it to fall down as the branches weren't looking very sturdy... But it climbed on without falling and after half an hour we continued on into the old city center where we were greeted by beautiful colourful buildings. Walking the decorated streets was amazing and we enjoyed the views, especially from up at the (completely intact) city walls that lead around it. Then we made a little stop at the bus operator to check the schedule to go to Santa Marta (tomorrow at 8). Right next to it is a public beach where we cooled down our feet in the coolish water. The atmosphere in the city is very lively and friendly and it feels very different even though it was just about 500km from Panamá to here. We continued our exploration at the old theater that was converted into a modern mall while keeping the old structures intact which resulted in a beautiful combination 🥰

      From the theater it was just a short walk to the Castle San Felipe de Barajas overlooking the city. The castle offers magnificent views, a nice little walk on the walls and tunnels to explore. The tunnels were especially tempting as it was nice and cool there. Then we went back to the hostel for a bit of recovery and hydration and to look up what to do next. Also I went to a barber shop and we bought a large backpack to carry our stuff a little more comfortable. Afterwards we checked out a restaurant nearby that was recommended by the receptionist. The menu offered quite a lot of interesting options and I decided on a fish while Julia had a vegetarian rice. The taste was really good and we were both happy with our choices ☺️

      For the evening we took a walk through the old city center again to see it illuminated. It was a whole different experience but I'd say it looks prettier at the day when you can see the colourful buildings. But the plazas were more lively with music, dancing and food and drink stalls. Then we went back to hostel to rearrange our luggage with the new backpack.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Tubará, Tubara

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