Santa Marta: Discovering Our Hood

 

Santa Marta. It doesn’t live up to the picture that critics paint of Colombia. You know – the image of Colombia as a dangerous, violent country that’s still plagued by its drug-ridden past. To be fair, this isn’t entirely an inaccurate depiction. But what’s not as widely publicized is the fact that the country is taking great strides to improve its infrastructure so as to make itself more appealing to tourists.

After “surviving” Medellín, we flew to Santa Marta, the second leg of our 10-day journey through Colombia. Although we made our way from the airport to our hotel in the city’s historic center in the middle of the night, the contrasts between Medellín and Santa Marta were visible. Less traffic, more small town beach vibes, and intense humidity.

It wasn’t until the sun came out the next day in Colombia’s first Spanish settlement and oldest surviving city, that we were able to get a better sense of our surroundings and acclimate to our neighborhood. Our hotel was ideally located in the heart of historic Santa Marta, a small yet colorful slice of the city that’s easily navigable by foot.  In this post I’m sharing some photos from around our hood…

Lots of motorcyclists in and around historic Santa Marta

Lots of motorcyclists in and around historic Santa Marta

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Reminds me of my childhood pup

Motorcycles parked along the oceanfront road just a few blocks from our hotel

Motorcycles parked along the oceanfront road just a few blocks from our hotel

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A statue in honor of the Tayrona culture

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Another Tayrona statue

Horse drawn carriages are also popular in historic Santa Marta

Horse drawn carriages are also popular in historic Santa Marta

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Remnants of drugs found on the ground on a street in our neighborhood...a reminder that we were still in Colombia

Remnants of cocaine found on the ground on a street in our neighborhood…a reminder that we were still in Colombia

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Our street

The street next to our hotel

The street next to our hotel – similar to Cartagena, but on a smaller scale

Catedral de Santa Marta across from our hotel

Catedral de Santa Marta across from our hotel – there was some sort of outdoor revival service taking place

We randomly popped into La Canoa for lunch one day

We randomly popped into La Canoa, down the street from our hotel, for lunch one day

The bar inside is in the shape of a canoe

The bar inside is in the shape of a canoe – super cute!

One of the best meals of our trip

One of the best meals of our trip: (l) Bruschettas del mar, (r) Bocaditos caribeños (shrimp ceviche in aji sauce)

There's always room for dessert

The total for our meal above and chocolate cake was 30,500 Colombian pesos (a little over $10)!

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I love the trees surrounding Parque de los Novios ("Lovers' Park") a few blocks from our hotel

I love the trees surrounding Parque de los Novios (“Lovers’ Park”) a few blocks from our hotel

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These trees!

Parque de los Novios

Parque de los Novios

Local life at the park

Local life at the park; (l) we kept trying to eat at Ouzo, but we could never seem to catch them when they were open

An old mural of Parque de los Novios

A mural depicting Parque de los Novios in its early days

Cute, colorful neighborhood

Cute, colorful neighborhood

Relief from the heat at our local Yogen Früz

Relief from the heat at our local Yogen Früz

Night begins to fall

Night begins to fall

I love the look of the historic center at night...

I love the look of the streets in the historic center at night. By the way, we always felt very safe walking around at night.

We stopped in for dinner at this random restaurant one night...I forget the name...

We stopped in for dinner at this random restaurant one night…I forget the name.

The restaurant is really cute inside...

The restaurant is really cute inside…

...the food was horrible despite its appearance

…but the food was horrible despite its appearance. Some of our seafood was even rancid.

The best part about the restaurant was the band playing on the terrace above. I could’ve listened to them all night…

 

After dinner, we had drinks at a local discoteca. We were the only ones there...

After dinner, we had drinks at a local discoteca. We were the only ones there…

Nighttime views of Santa Marta from our hotel's rooftop

Nighttime views of Santa Marta from our hotel’s rooftop

PINNABLE

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Have you been to Santa Marta, Colombia? Is it on your list?