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Cartagena, Colombia has transformed over the past decade to a faded colonial port visited mostly by Colombian vacationers to a chic hangout for the beautiful and wealthy (and occasional cruise ship). While Getsemani and other neighboring districts are looking better and better, the old walled city built by the Spanish, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the place to be. It is somewhat reminiscent of Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan, though it lacks the American chains and tacky cruise ship shops that have diluted the scene there. With the addition the addition of Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi’s new hotel and spa in late 2009, Cartagena seems to have entered a new phase in its evolution. Old world charm and jetset style have merged. You’ll see street vendors peddling mangos or coffee right in front of a $40 a plate restaurant (FYI: lots of excellent new restaurants here). Both elements have found their place here. Now that lowcost airlines Jetblue and Spirit offer flights to Colombia (note: Jetblue only flies to Bogota) a trip to Colombia’s Caribbean coast is easily accessible from North America.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.