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Do a little research on Cartagena and it will be hard to leave off your Latin America list. The blend of bold colours, colonial charm and dreamy beaches is a unique combination that’s hard to resist. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Walled Town is where you’ll likely spend the bulk of your days, drifting through the cobblestone alleyways to admire flower adorned balconies and Caribbean women in traditional, flamboyant dress. Long nights losing yourself in lively clubs and bars will call for a dose of saltwater and sunshine by day, best done offshore on Playa Blanca where cocktails served in a hollowed pineapple are considered the norm. Back in the city another more local beach excursion awaits, with La Boquilla offering a look at traditional coastal Colombian life set beside seafood restaurants and humble homes. Don’t panic cultured travellers, Cartagena is not all nightlife and beach time, with a museum and gallery collection to entertain a full week all of its own. Visit the 1500s fortress castle of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and admire pre-Columbian gold and ceremonial jewellery at Museo del Oro Zenú, before learning of black magic executions at the Palace of Inquisition. This Caribbean coastline destination delivers the kind of cuisine expected of the region, with ceviche of prawns doused in lime and coriander ready to be enjoyed beside a banquet of rare exotic fruits like papayuela and guanábana. If your trip has some flexibility be sure to consult the Cartagena calendar of festivals, it boasts celebrations of film, sweets and imagination, sandwiched between plenty of religious devotion. Shed all your expectations and typical travel ways when in Cartagena; if you go with the flow an unfathomable cultured paradise will unfold for you.
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