When most people think of Colombia, they often think Bogota or Medellin. While we eventually made our way to the more touristy parts of Colombia, our first stop on the trip was a smaller town on the North Coast (Atlantico, Colombia). Though not as picturesque as its neighboring towns, Santa Marta & Cartagena, we decided we were prepared for the adventure.
When we arrived to the Barranquilla airport, we were surprised to find that toilet paper would cost about 5 mil pesos & that we need to travel about an hour to get to where we were staying. Through trials and tribulations of unsuccessfully navigating the AirBnb app – we stopped at a café to get wifi. It was here I had a moment of, “what have I gotten us into?!” Luckily, that feeling (hardly) never surfaced again. When we finally go to our beautiful apartment in Puerto Colombia we ventured out to grab the necessities (beer, snacks) from the supermarket next door.
Puerto Colombia is the costal town near Baranquila and the first stop on our list of places we'd be staying. The apartment in Puerto Colombia was found on AirBnB. Donny was an excellent host: great communication and suggestions for where to go and what to see. I would highly recommend his spot as it's close to the beach and right next to a grocery store!
After “Yelping” various dinner spots, we saw that the beach was full of options. We found plenty of beach front restaurants online, but down by the ocean we struggled to find the maî·tre d'. We recognized the front of one establishment from google and approached a man who assured us we could have dinner at his restaurant though there were no tables or chairs. We kindly declined and decided to continue walking, agreeing that pizza might be a better option if the place adjacent did not work out. It was at this time a man with a menu directed us to his ocean front table. With more confidence in the menu and the table, we sat and ordered dinner. Stray dogs came to see what we were eating as we soaked in the last of the sun for the evening and ate freshly fried fish, tostones and ceviche.
In the morning, we set off to explore Castillo de Salgar. Since it was only a 12 minute walk away and google (again) told us there would be places to grab breakfast, we naively set on what more likely was a thirty minute walk to the castle. Once at the grounds of the castle, we triumphantly explored the building and surrounding area.
Its strong yellow walls laid against the blue ocean for a marvelous site.
Castillo de Salgar
We retuned back to our apartment (via uber – much easier/cooler/quicker) and decided it was time to find something to eat. We again took to the beach, this time more confident than the last. Before we stepped foot in the sand, a young man ushered us towards his table. Thus began a day of fun, food and new friends. Various vendors approached with local foods, henna tattoos, massages and drinks. We ate more fresh fish, drank Club Colombias & Aguadiente, swam in the ocean and rallied up a friendly game of football in the sand. I would say this was my favorite day of the trip, but they were all wonderful in their own ways.
Once we had drank all the Club Colombia the beach had to offer we headed back to our apartment to swim in the pool and enjoy the rest of our final day in Puerto Colombia. (I would highly recommend the pizza at Fratelli d'Italia....).
In the morning, we left the beach and headed into the city of Barranquilla. We arrived at La Quinta Bacana --the staff was lovely and made us feel welcome. At lunch I mis ordered my food for what felt like the 100th time of the trip & ended up with a delicious (but hot) soup on an already sweltering day. At this point, you might call us crazy for trusting google, but we headed to a park that turned out to be one swing set and a slide... so we hopped in a cab and headed for the town center on Calle 45.
At Calle 45 there were tons of vendors with street food, home goods, clothing and more. It was like a big box store had taken to the streets. We wandered deep into the heart of the chaos, sampling the flavors of Colombia: chorizo, empanadas, juices...Just thinking of the limonada makes me want to go back! We wandered around for quite a while and stumbled upon the beautiful Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino.
The three of us sat and people-watched as the sun began to slip from the sky. Seeking nourishment,
we sat and enjoyed a quiet coffee away from the bustle of the market.
Our final stop in Barranquilla was a restaurant “La Cueva.” My only regret with choosing this place is going too early to see the live music. The food was delicious, and though more expensive than a normal meal in Barranquilla, still a great bargain! The spot was rich in local history: dating back to 1954. From their website: Founded in 1954, La Cueva is an old hunter's bar that became famous for the renowned artists, writers, and intellectuals who frequented and visited it, as well as for the numerous episodes that were lived in it. We celebrated our last night in Barranquilla and looked forward to a new adventure in Medellin.
If you have any questions about Barranquilla feel free to reach out to me on twitter @SPTKlee or through email: Kayleevd@gmail.com