Panama Canal Cruise – Day Eleven

We came out of the canal yesterday evening and the ship was rocking a fair amount. That rocking and rolling continued all night and this morning until we docked in Cartagena, Columbia at 9:00 a.m. This was the first really rough ride we have had since boarding the ship but fortunately none of our group felt any ill effects and I had one of my best sleeps ever 🙂

From what we saw as we docked it appears Cartagena is a very busy cargo port.

This is our last port on the cruise and the eight of us booked a three hour excursion on the Cartagena Party Bus. We boarded a Chiva, a hand painted old wooden artisan bus that was formally used in rural areas for public transportation.

We listen to live music and drank watered down rum and cokes as we toured the sights of old Cartagena.

Most of our tour was of the Old Walled City but we did see glimpses of the new city know as Bocagrande.

You can see the wall of the old city on the other side of the water.

At the end of the 16th century, the city of Cartagena decided to build a seven-mile wall around the city to protect it from pirates and invaders. At that time Cartagena was the largest and most important port in the Americas.

The Old City, which lies within the wall, contains colorful buildings with Spanish-style architecture.

There are also small boutique hotels, plazas with unique shops and live music, and lots of street venders selling fruits and vegetables.

In 1536 the Spanish, who were afraid of being attacked, built San Felipe Castle to protect their city and country. The San Felipe Castle is located on top of a small hill in the middle of the city and we made our first stop here.

Unfortunately we were not given enough time to walk around the castle 😦 I think this stop was for the sole purpose of providing a group of captive tourist to the vendors and they were relentless! Many in our group took a bathroom break, which provided more money to the locals, as I was told you weren’t leaving the bathroom without giving them money.

Cartagena has two very different contrasting neighbourhoods and from our tour of the Old Walled city we could see glimpses of the Bocagrande, which is filled with hotel chains, apartment blocks, shopping malls, and restaurant chains. The wall, or Las Murallas, was also used to separate the city’s rich and poor population and it appears that hasn’t changed much.

The heart of Old Walled city is filled with colourful buildings and a lot, and I mean New York style, traffic! There is no way I could handle driving every day in this traffic.

We drove through a business area with electrical, plumbing, hardware, and all other kinds of construction material stores. There were also a lot of stores with colourful fabrics that would have been interesting to browse through but I think it was a good thing we didn’t get off the chiva here or I would have lost hubby in the electrical stores!

With a last look at pretty views and heavy traffic it was time to head back to the cruise ship port.

The Cartagena cruise ship port is really nice. Once the chiva dropped us off we walked through a beautiful sanctuary filled with birds, monkeys, and even an anteater! I really could overload you on pictures here but I did my best to pare them down 🙂

Just to break up these pictures I will give you a weather fact … over the course of the year, the temperature in Cartagena varies from 25C (76F) to 31C (88F) and is rarely below 23C (73F) or above 33C (91F) … yup that’s my idea of perfect weather.

After a long day we arrived back on the ship and thank goodness because we hadn’t eaten in forever 😀

Until next time …

2 thoughts on “Panama Canal Cruise – Day Eleven

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