Cartagena is a food lover's dream. Sea and countryside provide an inexhaustible cornucopia for talented chefs trained in the finest kitchens of the world who add their own twist to a native cuisine which itself combines Caribbean, Latin, Asian and Mediterranean influences. Addictive ceviche, coconut rice and coconut lemonade are staples to be found on every menu, and just about every street corner as well.La Vitrola, Casa de socorro, ALma, Harri Sason, Hotel Santa Clara
Culturally, Cartagena is closer to Havana than to other places in Colombia and that means - dancing! The chic set salsas to a most extraordinary Cuban combo at La Vitrola. I danced to a live orchestra till the small hours of the morning at Cafe Havana, where Hillary Clinton partied while the Secret Service pursued other diversions. A young crowd flocks to the Bazurto Social Club with more diverse flavors of Latin music. Salsa is the perennial favorite at Donde Fidel, a tiny, dive-y bar packed with terpsichoreans. It's on Plaza de los Coches so if you can't fit in the bar you can dance on the street - you won't be alone.
Café del Mar atop the ancient city walls is the place to be at sunset. Kick back with a mojito while taking in a view of the illuminated city and the Caribbean against a backdrop of gold, mauve and azure.
After a day of walking the old city in tropical heat I was ready to relax on the beach and luckily it was right outside my hotel. Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros is located on the beach in upscale Morros. It's comparable to a chic South Beach hotel, with smartly decorated suites, generous bathrooms, oceanfront terraces, a pool and the Blue Restaurant & Lounge. (FYI, in South America, Holiday Inn belongs to an entirely different category than its counterparts in the US.)