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Colombia's Calling .pdf

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get away
late s
gREAT deals ON

Colombia’s calling

Alegria Hotel
& Spa, in Side
take off to turkey
ENJOY a week in Turkey from just
£259 per person, including return
flights from London, Manchester,
Birmingham, East Midlands,
Newcastle or Leeds/ Bradford.
Stay at the Side Alegria Hotel
& Spa on an all-inclusive board
basis. Book by December 5 for
April to June departures next
To book, see dealchecker.co.uk,
call 0203 598 9823 and quote
Manchester flights from £319,
Birmingham or East Midlands
from £329, Newcastle from
£349, London from £259 or
Leeds/Bradford from £359.
Prices are per person, based
on two adults sharing a room.
all aboard for a cracking cruise
P&O Cruises is offering a
voyage on
from £839
per person
for an inside cabin. Departing
from and returning to
Southampton on December 7, the
price includes full board meals
and entertainment on board.
Ports of call are La Coruna,
Ceuta, Fuerteventura, Tenerife,
La Gomera, Madeira and Lisbon
To book, visit pocruises.com,
call 0843 373 0111 or visit your
local travel agent.
Happy ho-ho-holidays
Take part in the “Santa’s Sleigh
Day” day trip in Lapland, flying
from London Gatwick on
December 10, from £429pp,
based on two adults and two
children travelling.
To book, visit thomascook.com,
call 0844 412 5970, or visit your
nearest Thomas Cook store.
fly away to the canaries
airtours offers four nights in
Lanzarote from £275 per person,
based on two adults and one
child sharing, staying at the
three-star smartline Pocillos
Playa (all-inclusive), flying from
Manchester on December 18.
To book, visit airtours.co.uk,
call 0844 412 5970, or visit your
nearest Thomas Cook store.

aria Breslin travels
to the South American
country and discovers
soul, Street art and
– of course – coffee


he Plaza de la Trinidad is
buzzing. Music and laughter
suffuse the sultry air. Within
the amber-coloured walls of
17th-century Iglesia de la
Santisima Trinidad, mass is being
said, the sizeable congregation in
fine voice, the hymns far from
Outside, the bohemian plaza
bustles as locals decamp outdoors,
moving their living rooms onto the
street. Food carts vie for business
and the tantalising smells of arepas
and empanada waft through the
square. Children play football and
grown-ups drink beer.
It’s Thursday night and the streets
of Getsemani, in Cartagena, are
alive. Cartagena is a port city on
Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Its
walled, colonial old town – a merry
maze of brightly coloured buildings
and bougainvillea-filled balconies
– was designated a UNESCO World
Heritage site in 1984.
More recently, the city was the
backdrop for a defining moment in
Colombia’s history – a historic, but
controversial, peace agreement
signed by the government and
left-wing FARC rebels, hopefully
bringing to an end 52 years of
armed conflict.
Season three of Narcos is airing
on Netflix, documenting the hunt
for the Cali Cartel, in the wake of
cocaine king Pablo Escobar’s death.
It’s compelling TV, but Colombia
is keen to move on.
Back in Getsemani, we stroll the
streets. Cafes, restaurants and bars
rub shoulders with backpacker
hostels, boutique hotels, businesses

and houses locals call their home.
In a corner-shop on the square, we
buy 20p plastic beakers of beer.
Working-class Getsemani may be
shabbier than the walled city but
this authentic barrio has soul –
edgy, but not unwelcoming,
exhilarating and ultimately safe.
Gentrification surely beckons,
and sadly it can’t be long before
many locals are priced out and
forced to sell up. Their battle to stay
is depicted on the treasure-trove of
street art best seen on a daytime
tour. The elaborate murals in this
impromptu, outdoor gallery detail
the neighbourhood’s historical
heritage, local heroes and colourful,
modern-day characters.
But Getsemani is at its brilliant
best at night. Former US first lady
Hillary Clinton was pictured
downing beer and dancing the night
away at live salsa bar, Cafe Havana,
during a 2012 trip to the city.
At the Bazurto Social Club,
tourists learn to dance champeta
– an urban rhythm derived from
Colombian folk and dance.

need to know
■■KLM flies to Amsterdam from
18 destinations in the UK and
Ireland. The airline operates
three weekly direct flights to
Colombia from Schiphol.
Book flights at klm.com
■■For information on the airline’s
World Business Class, go to
■■Flights to Bogota start at £476

get your bearings. This imposing
fortress with an impressively
complex system of tunnels was built
in 1657 under Spanish rule.
The Palacio de la Inquisicion
houses the gnarly instruments of
torture used on suspected heretics.
In Plaza Santa Domingo,
Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s
bronze woman, La Gordita, reclines
Cartagena is the perfect walking
Street furniture in
city – getting lost in its winding
Getsemani square
streets an integral part of its
undeniable charm. The Caribbean
The five-star Armeria Real lies on port can take credit for launching
the fringes of Getsemani and is just the literary career of late Colombian
a five-minute walk from the historic great Gabriel Garcia Marquez – and
centre. Two bats hang serenely from is the setting for one of his most
the corridor beams outside my
famous works, Love in the Time of
bathroom window.
From the wrap-around balcony of
Although the writer only lived in
my split-level hotel room, I watch
Cartagena for a year, he kept a
the city come to life. The roof-top
holiday home in the city which
pool is a haven after a day tramping defined his career.
Cartagena’s hot streets.
We pay tribute to the great “Gabo”
This city is not short of sights.
on a three-hour gastronomic foodie
Dominating the skyline, Castillo San tour through the old town, stopping
Felipe de Barajas is a good place to
at the street stalls and cafes
namechecked in some of his
greatest works and listening to
extracts on a retro tape recorder.
It shouldn’t work, but it does
and to Cartagena from £516.
– mainly because of our passionate
guide and the tasty treats we snack
■■You can book rooms at the
on as we wander the streets.
Armeria Real Luxury Hotel and
Patacones, fried green plantains
Spa at en.armeriarealhotel.com
served with cheese, are a highlight.
The sweet-carts on Portal de los
■■For more details on Hotel de la
Duces sell traditional Colombian
Opera, go to hotelopera.com.co
candies. Fresh fruit balanced on her
head, a colourfully dressed
■■You will find more information
palenquera hands out mouthon Bogota graffiti tours at
watering melon.

 ECHO 37



holiday deals

The port city of Cartagena



We select our pick of
destinations on offer
from travel agents

Street art in Bogota, above, and colourful
buildings in the La Candelaria
neighbourhood in the historic centre of the
Pictures: ProColombia/KLM
city, below

At Sierva Maria, we sip on fresh
Caribbean juices while Gelateria
Paradiso is an ice-cream dream of exotic
flavours. The tour is an undoubted
highlight of an unforgettable trip.
Cocaine may be Colombia’s most
talked-about export, but the country is
also one of the world’s caffeine capitals.
We wake up and smell the beans at
Cafe San Alberto where, after a
captivating hour-long tasting class, I am
officially made an ambassador for
Colombia’s award-winning brand.
The beans I brought back to Britain
from this backstreet coffee bolthole
kick-start my day.
A beach on
Cartagena’s big name
Isla Grande
Western hotels line
Bocagrande beach and
look out to the Caribbean.
This wealthy miniMiami is a heady mix of
moneyed locals and
affluent visitors. But the
beaches are average, at
best, and it’s worth taking
a boat out to one of the
outlying islands for a true
taste of the Caribbean.
A pleasant 45-minute ride from the
Marina Santa Cruz and we arrive at
Hotel San Pedro de Majagua, on Isla
Grande, the largest of the Rosario
islands. The sea is bath-tub warm,
fishermen flaunt their freshly caught
lobster, the mojitos are chilled and the
hammocks sway. A late-lunch of grilled
red snapper is the perfect way to end
this idyllic Caribbean away-day.
My trip to Colombia started in
Amsterdam, with KLM, which operates
three weekly outward flights to
Cartagena through Colombian capital
Bogota. Home-bound flights are direct

and there are 18 direct flights to the
Dutch hub from the UK and Ireland.
Flying world business class on the 787
Dreamliner was a pure delight, the
pan-fried haddock perfect and the
full-flat seats snug. The 11 hours passed
far too quickly.
A stop-over in Bogota is a must – the
charming Hotel de la Opera, in the
capital’s La Candelaria district, was our
base for a sadly too-brief stay.
The third-highest capital in South
America, 8,660ft above sea level, we
took the cable car to Monserrate for the
best views of this sprawling city.
Giddy at the time of our
visit, due to the impending
arrival of Pope Francis,
this vantage point shows
the scale of a city home to
8m people.
Social commentary and
cultural expression are
played out on Bogota’s
graffitied walls and a
walking-tour of the streets
is a living lesson in the
complex history of this
captivating country.
In Bogota favourite La Puerta Falsa, I
tucked into ajiaco, a hearty chicken,
sweetcorn and avocado soup.
Friend, and former colleague, Victoria
Kellaway, joined me. She fell in love
with Colombia while travelling around
South America and has lived here ever
Victoria says: “Living here is great. The
country itself is huge and diverse and
there’s always something new to
discover. You never know what to expect
from one day to the next. I’ve lived here
almost eight years now and I wouldn’t
have it any other way.”

■■orlando : Meet Mickey Mouse, left,
on this seven-night holiday staying at
the four-star Rosen Centre Hotel, room
only. Price from £599pp includes return
flights from Manchester on December 5
(traveltrolley.co.uk/0208 843 4400).
■■Fuerteventura : Teletext Holidays
(teletextholidays.co.uk) offers a week in
Caleta De Fuste, from £221pp, staying at
Club Caleta Dorada, all-inclusive, from
London Stansted, on December 8.

Colombia's Calling.pdf - page 1/2
Colombia's Calling.pdf - page 2/2

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