Tairona Inca: Colombia and Peru in 2 Weeks
Day 1: Getting to Colombia with minutes to spare for a great celebration of the 2014 New Years in Cartagena!
Cartagena has come to be known as a trendy party town for New Years Eve. It seemed like a perfect place to bring in the new year, with sea, fireworks, and all night parties.
Cartagena is not the easiest place to get to. Our itinerary included stopovers in Cancun and Panama City as we booked fairly last minute. We were also scheduled to arrive at 10:30 p.m. on the 31st.
Plenty of time.
Fortunately all flights basically left on time and our flight from Panama City to Cartagena arrived 30 minutes early! Immigration was swift with no lines. The familiar passport stamping sound marked my entrance into country 58!
As the airport was only 10 minutes from downtown and the fact that there was minimal traffic on new years eve, we were in town ahead of schedule. We passed by the crowds of people celebrating by the beach with plastic chairs and tables lined up to watch the fireworks. Police were keeping order and we diverted into the old city behind the fortification wall.
In the center, residents and those in celebration filled the cobblestone streets with tables and chairs blocking traffic. Locals sat around, drank wine and barked at the traffic trying to displace them from the street. It was very festive.
We walked five minutes to our hotel, Casa Quero. The receptionist was waiting for us.
After freshening up a bit (preparation was done at the airport during the layover), we walked over to catch the end of dinner at the place to be, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.
We met up with Nat and Ben who had arrived a day earlier and joined their table.
The first glimpse of the courtyard of this converted monastery turned hotel is jaw-dropping. The establishment was decorated for the occasion with lights strung on on the palms and the pool fully lit. It was quite impressive indeed.
A group from Miami and a jovial Peruvian man were seated around our table. The attendees posed for pictures while others danced salsa next to the pool.
As dinner finished up we made our way to the top terrace where champagne was being served.
Then the fireworks started but strangely there was no countdown. The twelve o’clock ushering in the new year was somewhat anticlimactic.
After the fireworks show everyone disappeared from the hotel. I expected the party goers to hang around and enjoy dancing in the courtyard, but the guests were possibly in search of the next best party.
Our group made a move as well and headed to the famous Garden of Delights party.
After a somewhat difficult process of getting into this exclusive club, we found the inside to be disappointing. The area was tiny with a small outdoor garden and some tiny seating areas. And instead of bathrooms they had port-a-potties…
We did bump into some friends who were also in the city for the new year and made the best of the night.
Cartagena has a vibrant night life, but in hindsight the street parties and the charm of the old city atmosphere was the real draw.
Great new years with a great group!