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Christmas at Sea – Cartagena de las indias for a day – Part 2

Colorful Cartagenians

No visit to this town would be complete without a stroll through the UNESCO world heritage protected colonial city center. This was our next destination on our #BigFive experience for a day.

Colonial city center of Cartagena

Our bubbly guide Belkin navigated us through the narrow and bustling streets checking out local artisans while taking in the vibes. In more ways than one, this city reminded me of Havana but in much better shape. Colombians are a happy and energetic people and the whole city exudes an optimism not found many other places.

Local street vendors selling sliced fruit

As is the case for many countries and islands in this part of the world, sugarcane is a staple industry here in Colombia. Sugarcane is not only the basis of its key sugar exports, it’s also the base ingredient for rum. This what Ashis at #BigFive had arranged for us next. A private rum tasting at the Bastion hotel. Come along…

Master mixologist Jesus explained

Founded in 2017 by american educated chef Abraham Dau, the Arsenal Rum Box is Colombia’s preeminent Rum bar featuring locally distilled rums from small batch makers as well as larger conglomerates. It was the man himself whom guided us through a fantastic pairing of 9 different rums and accompanying in-house chocolates made from Colombin beans.

Dictador 1980 Rum (only 79 bottles exist) with custom chocolate
Abraham Dau hosted our private tasting

Abraham walked us through a comparison tasting ranging from a simple drink with basic rum and red vermouth, to neat consumed 8 year olds, and ended with a rare treat of a 1980 bottle of exceptional taste. After the entire experience I can say that I expanded my repertoire. Truthfully, rums are the next “big thing” and I can attest to the fact that they are far more interesting than Cognac and even outdo my favorite Scotches. It was an eye opening experience that brought Colombia to life and left us all with more refined palates.

La Gorda Gertrudis – large bronze sculpture by the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

The local saying goes that those whom rub the Gorda Gertrudis statue’s bust will find lasting love and when you rub her cheeks, you will make many returns to the city. If one can believe such folklore, then our trio is well set to return to Cartagena de las indias which would make perfect sense as it is a fascinating destination to explore.

Cartagena – old and new from the 1500’s fortifications to the 2000’s high rises

As Azamara Onward set sail late evening, the tree of us stood on deck 10 outside under the stars and we reflected on our magical time here. We all agreed that this is a city readers should put on their list of places to experience.

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