Cartagena, Colombia


12 years ago, almost to the date, my husband and I celebrated a 2nd wedding in Bogota and jetted off for a getaway weekend in Cartagena, Colombia.  Let’s just say, I’m a believer. I drank the Caribbean Kool-Aid, big-time.  The food scene in this city is SO off the hook, I don’t even know where to begin.  If you’re a foodie like me, then you want to make sure you’re thoroughly prepared before you head there. Check out these goodies such as: Bon Appetit GuideFood & Wine, DesignLoveFest, and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on Colombia.

In the old town of Cartagena de Indias, we opted to stay at a boutique hotel called the Tcherassi Hotel. This former 250 year-old colonial mansion was chicly-designed and named after the Colombian fashion icon, Sylvia Tchersassi. The ambiance was charming and with food created by Chef Daniel Castano, a protege of Mario Batali, we had some incredible Italian fare.

CartagenaA little city geography – Cartagena is divided into two main parts which consist of the old city and the new. In the old walled city, there are centuries-old fortresses, churches and town squares.  Walking around, we stumbled upon charming boutique hotels, brilliantly colored casas, balconies galore, and street carts filled to the top with brilliantly colored fruits.


In the new city, we discovered some beautiful vistas, modern high-rises, and restaurants.


Whatever your pleasure is – new or old, the food scene (especially seafood!) was fresh, inventive, and great for any budget! That is, except for one thing that is destined to ruin your appetite…

Culinary Delight in Cartagena

…. Aguardiente, or guaro as it’s more familiarly known. Guaro, meaning ‘sizzling of fire water’,  is the drink of choice around Colombia and it just takes a few swigs of this libation to get the party started. Be warned, this stuff is strong!

Side Trippin: Guatavita


I love visiting my husband’s family every time we’re in Colombia as they are always so welcoming and generous. For this visit, we hopped in Andres’ bright white mini-car and off to Guatavita we went!

The drive was beautiful and offered the perfect diversions for roadside fare.  I fell head over heels for these corn-on-the-stick bbq’d snacks which were smothered in buttter.  YUM!  And, of course, we had to have Steves’ Tia’s favorites – arepas which are sort of like corn griddle cakes but filled with cheese. The family washed it down with Avena Fria, a hearty, oatmeal-like drink.  I’ll admit that it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea but hey, the rules of cooking is that you’ve got to try everything at least once!

A little trivia – Guatavita is in the Colombian Andes and boasts a beautiful Laguna de Guatavita (Lake Guatavita).

The Sweet Nerd in Guatavita

The city is characterized by these beautiful white washed buildings and European style cobblestone streets.

To get to Laguna de Guatavita from the village, you can take a path down towards the lake. Or if walking isn’t your thing, you can hop on board a sweet little tractor train to take you on your way.  On your little journey, you might spot various cows in the meadows and stunning fincas (estates). Don’t forget, you are completely surrounded by the majestic Andes which are breathtaking.

Every time I come back from Colombia, I wonder how it’s possible that more American tourists don’t visit this country.  I know it’s history.  We all do.  But truly, the music, the people, and the food are intoxicating.

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