Avenida Santander – that gloriously windswept road running along the shore to Cartagena’s old town – is arguably one of the nicest routes through the city.
In the morning the pavements are home to eager joggers and early bird dog-walkers, alongside dozens of mildly over-friendly fisherman who will sell you a catch or two if you’re lucky (or, indeed, a woman).
While much of this busy road runs alongside the beach, the rocky parts are the best – guarding against the huge white-tipped waves and filled with pelicans who are lazily wondering whether to bother fishing in the sun.
But the best thing about Avenida Santander is the fact they close it – well, at least part of it – on a Sunday morning for cyclists who wish to feel the sea wind in their hair and the Cartagena sand whipping against their shins.
(As you know, I lament never having bothered to cycle Bogotá’s enormous ciclovia – well, it’s some redress that Cartagena’s ciclovia was the first touristy thing I did. It runs every Sunday from 7am to 1pm)
Cartagena’s ciclovia is easier to organise than Bogotá’s too, because the bikes are right there for hire at COP5,000 an hour (£1.70) and two hours is more than sufficient to cycle along to the old city, take some photos, drink a coffee and cycle all the way back.
Bicycle is a lovely way to arrive too, you can dive into the old city at any point, winding your way through the colonial streets (avoiding taxis, horses, carriages and lemonade sellers at every turn) and shoving your bike against a bench so you can soak up some sunshine.
Of course, you should probably be more organised than me. Our accidental discovery of the ciclovia meant I was wearing a light cotton dress and flip flops and carrying a shoulder bag – not ideal for wobbling along on a bicycle.
But, still, it was lovely – bracing and environmentally friendly – and a different way to explore the many nooks and crannies the old city can throw at you. Enjoy.
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This is too cool. And it’s reminding me about the Paseo de Reforma here in Mexico City – which is such an enormous road that they close off on Sundays just for the cyclists. Maybe I should hire one of the bikes and go for a ride too. 🙂