World leaders, including our own Prime Minister of course, have recently been in Colombia.
So have two TTS members and frequent contributors to this magazine.
Here Heinz and Inge Jaeger share their story.
Cartagena is hot; there is no sign of coffee plantations, but the old, walled city, dating back to 1533 and now a UNESCO world heritage site, is very pretty. The houses are neat and gaily painted, the cobbled streets are narrow, and there are many little stores and restaurants. In the typical Spanish style, the fronts of the houses are simple, with one door large enough to admit a carriage, with a smaller ‘man door’ set in the wall beside it. Often the doors are decorated with large bronze nails and elaborate door knockers. The second floors usually have balconies with carved wooden railings which are overflowing with exuberant flowers. Passing the front door and through a passage way, one enters the courtyard which is the true living centre of the house. Here there are trees, lots of flowers, fountains and sometimes even waterfalls. All rooms open into the courtyard, often through a roofed gallery.
We visited Colombia over the first two weeks of February this year. Our hotel in Cartagena, the Tres Banderas (or three flags: Colombian, Canadian and French), was originally built in this Spanish style and had been extensively renovated; it immediately provided a homely and charming welcome for us. The rooms were simple but clean and adequate. www.hotel3banderas.com
Cartagena is the principal Caribbean harbour of the country, and many cruise ships stop here to give their passengers a chance for a brief visit. Thus on most days thousands of tourists stream into the city and provide a living for the merchants, taxi drivers and restaurants. However, come nightfall, the tourists are back on their ships and one can stroll through the lanes and plazas without much hindrance.