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During our recent cruise on Norwegian Jade, the time on land turned out to be as rewarding as the time on ship. One highlight came on our first port stop, Cartagena, on the northern coast of Colombia.
We decided to forgo an organized shore excursion and head out on our own. We started with a taxi ride to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a superfort that dates to 1536. Rebuilt and enlarged several times over the years, it became the greatest fortress Spain ever built in the Americas. Impressive, with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and Cartagena's cityscape. (Yes, they were open even on Sunday morning.)
Next, after I'd joined the expats in Cartagena Facebook group, we had brunch with C.C., with one of its members, at Cafe Stepping Stone in the Getsemani neighborhood. Check out some of the area's trippy wall murals above.
We then spent the bulk of the day tripping around Old Cartagena, the thoroughly walkable historic walled district. It's a charming collection of colonial-era churches, monasteries, plazas, palaces and mansions with street after street filled with shady patios and flowering terraces.
We grabbed a cab back to the cruise terminal and spent another hour there before boarding the ship. Loved the open aviary with dozens of tame macaws and peacocks and the nearby enclosure with flamingos. We'll be back to Cartagena!