Our flight to Getsemani, Cartagena left Denver around 10pm and we were able to sleep through most of the flight, only waking up for the semi-decent airplane food. They did feed us a lot of times – which is good for someone like me who is prone to becoming hangry, especially while traveling. If you are like me and a terrible plane sleeper, I highly recommend this infinity travel pillow scarf thingamajig by Huzi. It holds you in so snug you can’t bounce your head off your neighbor, who is most likely a stranger.
We arrived in Cartagena around 8:30am. I had read there were ATMs in the airport, and we found none. Luckily, Jennie had planned ahead and brought cash. She changed it to Colombian pesos before we grabbed a taxi to Getsemani. The driver did not know where we were going and kept stopping to ask people and luckily, without too much delay, we arrived at Hotel Monaguillo de Getsemani. The taxi ride from the airport was only $6 US. Since we were there approximately six hours before check-in, we dropped our bags, cleaned up a bit and got some water. We headed out to find an ATM and some breakfast.
The ATM proved to be tricky and took me about five tries to get right! Luckily, I eventually figured it out. We decided to wander to whatever looked good and ended up at Café Trinidad, right off Plaza de la Trinidad. The food didn’t seem that appealing after further inspection, so we ordered limonade de coco, which the server found funny for some reason. Maybe because it cost the same as the taxi ride. A couple sat next to us and the woman had a copy of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (which I recently read and recommend). I used that as an excuse to strike up a convo. We discussed books for a smidge and then she gave us a big list of recommendations, as she and her bf had been in Cartagena about a week. We decided it was time to find some food, so we hopped across the street to the empanada vendor in the Plaza. Mine had a hard-boiled egg surrounded by mashed potatoes. I dream of this empanada. I want to go back just for this empanada. Jennie’s had ham and cheese and the best part about this breakfast was it cost about $1 US total.
We headed to one of the recommendations from our new book lover friend. She recommended La Cevicheria as her top recommendation. Apparently, you must get there early because there ends up being a line to get in as soon as they open. We were still a little early as there was no line yet, so we walked to the edge of town and stared at the ocean for a bit before popping into Marzola Parrilla Steakhouse for a beer and water ($10 US total for both of us) to cool us down. We were HOT! Marzola was a neat place. They were cooking meat on a grill right at the entrance and the entirety of it was covered in bottle caps and memorabilia for some Argentinian singer whose name I do not remember.
Once we made it over to La Cevicheria there was in fact a line. We were so lucky and were the last ones let in on the first round. We ended up at a booth shoved in the front, across from the bar/kitchen area. It was the best seat in the house because we could see all the pretty drinks and yummy food traveling through the restaurant. The food was very good. I had mulatta Tropicana paella and Jennie had ceviche with coconut. Both servings were very large, and it was a shame to have to leave our leftovers behind. Before the food arrived, our server brought a bowl with salt and pepper chips that were so darn tasty and a mango dipping sauce. I might have liked that better than my meal.
Finally able to check into our hotel, we headed back for a nap and a shower. We headed out to another recommendation for dinner, the Santa Isabel Food Truck Park. The idea was to get there to watch the sunset across the harbor. When we arrived, it was a bright orange ball in the sky but by the time we had ordered from our server, the sun set and we missed it! It was a good place regardless. Interestingly, we didn’t order directly from the food trucks but had a server instead. We ordered tacos and were surprised when they arrived in the form of burritos. Jennie had ordered sangria and it only came in a pitcher, so I had no choice but to help her drink it. We had sangria a few times and it was very apple cider tasting, heavy on the sweetness and cinnamon. Hard to drink an entire pitcher full!
It had been a long day of walking and eating and drinking so we went back to the hotel early. My first impression of Getsemani was a very safe, hospitable neighborhood. The architecture reminded me of a mix of Havana, Cuba and Morocco with a little bit of New Orleans mixed in.