My next big trip started off by meeting my trusty travel buddy, Mitty, in Panama ready for a new adventure making our way through to Colombia.
We had a couple days exploring Panama City before making our way over to Puerto Lindo where our sail to Colombia started. We were to spend the next six days on a 42 foot catamaran, Nacar II, sailing through the San Blas Islands before making an open sea crossing into Cartagena, Colombia. Happy days!
After meeting the crew and the other members in the early morning, we got out things together and ready to go. Our crew consisted of our captain, first mate and a chef – such an awesome bonus having our own chef on-board to cook some of my favourite meals to date!!
We set off in the evening having our first group dinner aboard and a few drinks to get to know each other.
The first morning we woke to an incredible scene.. It was clear blue water and dotted islands filled with palm trees – it was absolutely stunning..
The next few days consisted of jumping in and out of the warm water, snorkelling around the islands, and reading my book as we sailed from island to island on the still waters of the San Blas Islands..
We had the most incredible meals with the freshest seafood delivered to us by the local fishermen on their boats.. Such a treat to enjoy freshly caught lobster, octopus, squid and even a stingray!
On one of the last islands, Mitty and I went on an adventure of walking around the whole island and seeing how the Kuna Yala people live, their artwork was stunning..
The open sea crossing was long, very long. As there was absolutely no wind it was pretty but, meant that we were sailing at a crawling pace and it took us about 24hours.
We filled the time be eating plain meals so we didn’t get seasick, reading our books and I even had a visitor from a tiny little bird (no idea where he flew from)..!
We landed in Cartagena, Colombia around 7pm at night after sailing through the harbour amongst the tall buildings and we went straight to our hostel, Friends to Be, in the Getsemani district. Now this was such a treat of a place and one of my favourite hostels. A shower felt amazing to finally rid ourselves of the salt water.
We met up with everyone from the boat later that evening to enjoy a night out together where we wandered to the historical walls by the clock tower monument to check out the rooftop bars.
We ended up staying in Cartagena longer than we thought as we loved the hostel and the town, wandering along the colourful arty streets. We found a great bookstore/café, Abacus Books and Coffee, which we went to a few times and checked out other places such as the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas for great views, Plaza Santo Domingo for cool food and drink vibes, and even managed to find somewhere for Mitty to get a haircut..!
The days were so hot that we usually needed an AC break in the middle of the day to cool us down..
It turned out that a big peace treaty with the FARC Guerilla was in talks in Cartagena whilst we were there which meant there was police and the army everywhere! On the day of the signing of the treaty, a lot of the old town was closed and alcohol banned! There were also jets flying super low which caused us to jump as it was all very loud..
The streets of the Getsemani district were filled with incredible art work and we walked around trying to find as many as we could which led us walking along the entirety of the old city walls..
We finally decided to go explore Medellin, so caught an internal flight where we flew of the many mountains. Medellin was huuuuuuuge!!
We walked around and had some food around Parque Lleras before joining a free walking tour with Real City tours which gave us some pretty interesting history of the city and the country whilst taking us to some cool sites.
We decided to take part a full day tour to Guatapé & La Piedra which was organised by the hostel. This was pretty cool as I had no idea what to expect but when we rocked up to El Peñol I was well impressed.
We climbed the 740 stairs to the top of the El Peñol rock to check out the incredible view of the sprawling man-made lakes – stunning! This was followed by a delicious lunch, a visit to a green lake and then a drive to the colourful little city of Guatapé.
Guatapé is now one of my favourite little lakeside towns – so so colourful and loved just walking around the streets and sitting in the square for a hot chocolate to warm us up, it was chilly..!
On the drive back to Medellin we stopped off on the hill which overlooked the city for a stunning view of the entire city lit up at night – beautiful.
One of the days we got up early to take the train to Santo Domingo to ride the gondola through Arvi Park – now this was an incredible view of the entire city – it was absolutely massive and sprawled out forever.!
Up and then down the gondola we went before heading back to the hostel where we ran into a couple people we knew who told us about a music festival that afternoon – why not!?!
The music festival was called Breakfest and in Parque Norte so off we went. This was such a cool experience. The festival included artists such as Capital Cities, Paul Kalkbrenner, Julian Marley & The Uprising, Claptone which were just some of the names which we recognised. So much fun!
One of the last things we did in Medellin was a Pablo Escobar tour where we went to certain places from his history and what we knew from the TV series ‘Narcos’. The locals are not a fan of ‘Narcos’ however, as it was not the full truth of what happened and it painted a good picture of Pablo Escobar building schools etc. This never happened.
We visited places such as El Poblado, Monaco Building (Pablo’s Penthouse), Envigado, Pablo/Griselda Blanco’s Graveyard, Downtown Medellin and Los Olivos (Pablo’s Final Hideout).
The next day we had a super early flight to Bogota where Mitty slept for the day at the hostel and I went out for a wander.
I walked around the town and went to go to the Gold Museum but it was closed unfortunately, so I walked up and took the cable car to the top of Mount Monserrate for a stunning view of another incredible sprawled out city – the capital was so much bigger than Medellin.
We had a final wander that evening and some dinner before another super early morning flight back to the island, stopping over in Miami to enjoy lunch on South Beach before our last flight to the island.
Once on the island we had some chilled days before I was back at work. I took Mitty round the island to the Crystal Caves and to swim with the turtles at Spotts Beach – always a favourite with visitors..
I also took him to a few of my favourite foodie places including the mega-amazing burger at The Lobster Pot, delicious jerk chicken and pork from Da Kitchin, buffet breakfast at the Mariott and an amazing lunch at The Heritage Kitchen to name a few.
Whilst I was at work, I sent Mitty off on some dives during the day including the Kittiwake which is the best wreck dive I have done.
I also took him on the jets safari and we were so lucky that the day we went was the best I have ever seen the sound, such clear blue waters and so calm! We had great fun and I do enjoy watching everyone’s first reactions to the stingrays at Stingray City..! A stop at Kaibo for some food and of course, a mudslide and then we rode the jet skis back.. So much fun!
Our next adventure of the day was to go horse riding (we did the same thing on our last trip together when we were in Malawi)..
We went on our own private ride along the beach until we stopped to take the saddles off and ride in the water for a swim.. This was, as always, amazing and we had a great laugh.. On the way back we also had quite a few opportunities to gallop along the water’s edge – bliss.
On his last afternoon on the island we spent the day at the beach hanging out at Palms and enjoying the sunset..
Bliss. It was great fun having a good friend visit and travel with but it was time for goodbyes and onto planning our next trip..!