Cartagena, Panama, & Costa Rica!

If you are a regular reader in these parts then you know that a couple weeks ago, I took my very first cruise (with Celebrity Cruises). On Sunday I shared some reasons to take a cruise…. today I wanted to provide a more thorough diary of our trip as it was pretty incredible.

Our first stop was Cartagena. I had never been before but had heard the most incredible things from friends who had visited. I will say that Cartagena is a bit hard to get to unless you fly direct. If you are able to fly direct I would definitely recommend it (I am told that JetBlue has a great non-stopflight from New York). I flew into Bogota and then into Cartagena. I am a pretty seasoned traveler and found that the Bogota airport was really quite confusing when transferring. I am pretty sure I was led around in circles. I had to screen my bag several different times and nearly missed my second flight (A few of you echoed my confusion on Snapchat so I know I’m not alone!!) Once I got to Cartagena though, everything was smooth sailing.

I got to my hotel, dropped my bags, and headed out to explore. We stayed in the old walled city, which I can’t say enough good things about… it’s one of the most colorful cities I’ve ever visited, complete with musicians, street vendors selling fresh fruit + juice, and fun little shops on every corner. I spent hours just getting lost in it all, wandering through colorful alley after alley, and of course taking 1,000,000 photos.

After a few hours of wandering (and an ice cream break) I headed back to my hotel for a dip in the pool. The pool above is my pool at the Ananda Hotel, a really beautiful boutique in the heart of the old city. I loved our hotel. If you plan a trip to Cartagena, I highly recommend it. It’s chic, affordable, and the rooms smell amazing (it’s hard to describe the exact fragrance but it reminded me quite a bit of the tobacco scent that the Coqui Coqui hotel in Tulum does… a little bit wood, a little bit musk… heavenly)!

That night, we ate dinner at Alma, a trendy restaurant down the street that once was a convent. The food was delicious (I had the lobster tail) but my favorite part was the giant goblet of white sangria that I drank. It was loaded with fruit but what made it so good was that it included passionfruit, which is one of my all time favorite flavors/fruits. And the glass was about the size of my head. Yum.

PS – Vogue did a round-up of the best restaurants in Cartagena and Alma made the cut. So you don’t have to just take my word for it. 🙂

isabel marant dress (old)// gold birkenstocks

 

The next day I woke up early, finished some work, and went out to explore a bit more before we were picked up for the cruise. This time, I focused on shopping for souvenirs (I bought sooo much salted dark chocolate at the Museo de Cacao), and stocked up on handmade pouches as Christmas gifts for friends and family. For me, I bought the bag I am wearing in these photos. I love the pattern + the neutral color combination. I also got the yummiest ice cream pop at La Paletteria (a reader recommendation that came in via Instagram… I love social media when traveling!)

And then, we were off! We hopped aboard Celebrity Equinox and waited for our documents to clear customs. I had a strawberry daiquiri while we waited which was just lovely. I said it in Sunday’s post, but I was really struck by how nice the ship was. Like a floating, luxury resort. We checked into our rooms (I stayed in a Veranda Stateroom with a cute little balcony that overlooked the ocean), and then we met up on the ship’s helipad for a champagne toast… such a glamorous way to kick off our cruise!

My favorite part of the cruise by FAR was the excursions that we were able to enjoy at each destination. They were really well planned out and so much fun!

On Saturday morning we docked in Panama, and I chose to do the Monkey Watch… a boat ride through a hidden monkey jungle. (You may remember this previous trip… you guys… I really love monkeys!!!) We drove for about an hour, and then took a two hour boat ride through the forest. It was really fun and we saw a lot of cute little monkeys swinging from the trees. One even jumped down into our boat. I posted it on snapchat but didn’t get any clear photos to post here.

That evening, we returned to the ship (I had a little bit of downtime to explore and hit the gym), and then it was dinner at the Tuscan Grille. The appetizers were over the top. So much food… and everything was so good! I ordered the chicken parm, which probably could have fed the table. It was amazing. The wine was delicious, and at the end of dinner, we were treated to a round of house made limoncello, which was absolutely incredible!

After dinner, we were treated to one of the ship’s musical performances, Elysium. I really loved it. The costumes were incredible and the music + dancing were both amazing!

On Sunday morning, we docked in Costa Rica for what I had been looking forward to the most… a trip to the rainforest! This was for me personally, the highlight of the trip. I’ve been wanting to visit the Costa Rican rainforest ever since my sister spent a summer there and I loved every minute. We took a tour of the rainforest and saw several exhibits (exotic + poisonous snakes and frogs, a butterfly garden, and all sorts of other cool stuff) and then took an aerial tram all the way down to the bottom of the rainforest. From there we took a short hike up to the most incredible waterfall… it was all just so breathtaking!

 

lilly pulitzer top // baublebar earrings

 

Monday was spent at sea. As I mentioned, on a cruise there are days spent at sea and days where the boat will dock for excursions + exploration time in the different cities. Days spent at sea are the perfect opportunity to sunbathe, visit the spa or fitness center, hit up the casino, and so on and so forth.

We spent the morning touring the ship, and then I sunk into one of the ship’s comfy recliners with a book (and lots of SPF – it was really sunny!)

Dinner that night was at Murano, which felt like we were on the Titanic – it was so fancy! We experienced an amazing five course tasting menu (complete with wine pairings)! That night, we took in a fun concert, and then it was time for bed.

vineyard vines dress

 

The next day we had a bit more time to relax in the morning, and then we docked in Mexico and said goodbye! I had an amazing time and was genuinely sad to head home. Thank you to Celebrity for an incredible trip!!

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Comments

  1. Marta says 12.16.16

    It seems like it was a great trip! The pictures turned out amazing!

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      It was one of my favorite trips to date! Thanks Marta!!

  2. You look super happy! 🙂 The cruise looks amazing and the I love the colourful streets!!!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      Aw, thank you Charmaine!!! It was so bright and happy! xo

  3. Marty says 12.16.16

    Good morning, Grace. Glad you loved Cartagena! My parents are from Colombia & I’ve been lucky enough to have been to Cartegena a few times over the years. You are right about Bogota airport. Even if you are a local, it’s confusing. My uncle, an architect in Bogota, has commented it’s like a maze. That being said, I hope you get to visit Bogota sometime. It’s an amazing city, with wonderful food, history & culture & its people are fun-living and optimistic, in spite of facing hard times during 50 years of civil war. Anthony Bourdain did a good job of conveying that when he did his show from there.

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      Hi Marty! That makes me feel a lot better… it was a disaster!I really need to go back to Colombia for a week or so…. see Cartagena again, and visit Bogota as well. Such an amazing country!

  4. Natali says 12.16.16

    Sweetest photos!!! Love the nature!

    http://lartoffashion.com

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      Thanks Natali! Hope you had a great weekend!!!

  5. Marty says 12.16.16

    PS is your bag (mochilla) from Colombia or purchased elsewhere? I love it … and every outfit in the post!

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      Yes, I bought it on the street in Cartagena! Love it so much. 🙂

  6. Wendy says 12.16.16

    Cartagena is definitely on my list, looks amazing! please tell me you bought some of those colorful bags!

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      I hope you go! And yes I did -but I went a little more neutral… with the one I’m wearing in this post! My family all gets small pouches for Christmas. 🙂

  7. Devon Hembury says 12.16.16

    Wow this looks incredible! Looove how colorful it is! xo Devon Seventeen Dresses

    • graceatwood says 12.18.16

      Thanks Devon! It is an amazing place!!!