Cartagena, Colombia |An amazing day in this vibrant holiday destination

Old Town

Cartagena is a popular holiday destination for Latin Americans, located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Despite what assumptions are made about Colombia, I found Cartagena to be safe and made a very welcome addition my ever-expanding list of favourite places. The walled old town is picturesque with  cobblestone roads, colourful restored colonial architecture and an endless choice of trendy bars and restaurants.  A short cab ride down the road is Bocagrande,  where the old town connects to the newer beach area. It has an endless choice of hotels and apartments along the warm watered coastline.

I stayed in Cartagena for a week which was almost enough time to experience what this city has to offer. One of my favourite nights was on the weekend, as the hip area of Getsemani within the old town became even more alive. (Although I feel most nights would be alive, especially during the hot high-season). I started with dinner at Demente in the busy square Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad. A bar/restaurant within a restored ruin – with a good vibe and an equally hip menu including tapas, creative mains, gourmet pizzas and drinks to start the night. Whilst sitting at the bar I meet an inspirational fellow Australian who had visited the area six years earlier and didn’t want to leave, so she didn’t. By setting up a tour agency she has been lucky enough to keep the holiday feeling alive every day. She also introduced me to Demente’s legendary coconut pie. I will eternally be grateful to this individual.


Stepping out of the restaurant back into the square Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad was an incredible experience, as the crowds had grown even more.  This is a must-visit hot spot if you’re there on the weekend, with a combination of locals and travelers. Within the square salsa music spilled out from nearby bars, teenagers kicked a soccer ball around, an older couple was salsa dancing in the midst of the crowds and bodies lined the curb sitting on old cardboard boxes drinking beer and rum purchased from a nearby corner store. At one stage I shared a curbside seat with a French traveler, who like my new friend from the restaurant couldn’t bare to leave Colombia so had created opportunities to stay an extra nine months. Unfortunately he wasn’t as business savvy and will have to leave the country soon – commendable effort though. I could have stayed on my cardboard box chatting to interesting people all night, but after staying two hours more the planned in the plaza, I felt a salsa club calling.

Also located in Getsemani is Cafe Havana the most popular (with good reason) salsa club in town. The club was packed shoulder to shoulder, but for those who were determined there was still room to dance and everybody was pretty accommodating for the amateur. The atmosphere is fun and vibrant.  The loud music from the live band made it a little difficult for anyone to understand my  ‘not so polished’ Spanish,  so we were grateful to meet Canandians in the club to share the experience with. If an experience is about a feeling, then the passion and energy I felt in this room was the perfect end, to a perfect night in Cartagena.

To appreciate Colombias Carribean coast make sure you

  • Visit Cafe del Mar at sunset – Cartegena is apparently famous for it’s sunsets. This bar is lucky to have the top spot along the old town wall. Grab a drink and skip the overpriced food, as it’s not great. Or just sit on the wall and enjoy the music coming from the bar and take it in.
    Café del Mar
    Cartagena sunset and Café del Mar


  • Spend at least one day at Isla del Rosario (Rosario Islands) – I went to Playa Blanca and unlike the beaches at Bocagrande, the turquoise waters are crystal clear and have an amazing reef to snorkel over. There are also various accommodation options on the islands if a day isn’t enough. The one hour bumpy speedboat ride over to the islands was ‘rough’, but fun at the same time.
Playa Blanca, Isla del Rosario
Playa Blanca, Isla del Rosario

My next blog will be on the land of Tequila and Tacos – Hola Mexico!!! Check out my Instagram account ‘Belindness’ for other places I visit.

Belindaness xoxo

Peru | Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu

Plaza de Armas Plaza de Armas

Arriving in Cusco I immediately noticed the thin air. With an altitude of 3400 metres it’s easy to spot the newbies in town – we all walked up the hills (and trust me this town has some short but steep inclines) panting and needing to stop every few meters. At times I felt like a 95 year old who’d just done an aerobics class. I was unlucky enough to suffer altitude sickness for a few days, but at least I was only horizontal in bed for one day. As a starting point for treks, It’s recommend for those doing the Machu Picchu climb to give yourself at least two days in Cusco first to adjust to the high altitude.

Many people only visit Cusco as an entry point to Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and the smaller surrounding towns. The small city centre is where all the visitors stay. Being an entry and exit point for trekkers the town buzzes with the excitement for those who are about to head off on their adventure, or who have just come back. With stunning stonemasonry (like what most people recognise about Machu Picchu) buildings it has been important that the city remain fairly unchanged, as it is now World Heritage Site. I found it easy to lose myself exploring the many beautiful (and very narrow) cobblestoned streets around the city. Which is made even more interesting as you are often sandwiched up against the walls alongside locals trying to avoid your toes getting run over by a car.

For me it turned into a daily challenge to see how many people I could skim past and jump back up onto the footpath (I use the term footpath very loosely – more like a thin path of cobblestones) before the next stream of cars come up the road.

I found a few good foodie destinations tucked away in the backstreets. For a casual meal my favourite was Green Point Vegan. Fellow carnivores do not avoid this place, you won’t be disappointed. The price, serving sizes and quality of the food is amazing (it’s often challenging to find this combination in Cusco). I had the vegetable korma served with rice, roti bread and Brazil nut butter. They also use Brazil nut milk in their smoothies and porridge. They do an impressive 3 course-rotating menu each day which is worth a try. Cicciolina Tapas Bar restaurant is my other pick for the quality of the food and variety. Tapas only make up a small portion of the menu. I was so impressed by their glazed lamb shank that I came back the next day for the lunch and had an amazing roasted beef gourmet sandwich, which was worth the second visit.


For me the whole city had a very special feel and I felt connected to its spiritual energy, which was the perfect compliment to my visit to Machu Picchu. Maybe it is because the Inca people who are Indigenous to the area are strongly connected to the land and believe that the forces of nature drive their way of life. I felt really lucky that I could feel this and since leaving Peru have felt so enriched by this energy.

I had high expectations for my visit to Machu Picchu after my time in Cusco and in some ways was not disappointed. However, while it was an impressive site, having so many other tourists there at one time (all trying to get the perfect selfie) did take away from my own personal experience. But rest assured you can always find a lot of breathtaking postcard moments. For keen trekkers it’s well worth doing the Inca Trail trek or getting there early to take in the sunrise and feel the energy of the site before the busloads of tourists arrive.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

My next post will be on Cartagena, Colombia where I enjoyed the famous sunsets and continued to indulge in cheap (and tasty) South America beer. My Instagram account ‘Belindaness’ has pictures of all the other places I visit to share my experiences.

Belindaness xoxo

Buenos Aires, Argentina |Eat, drink and be merry

La Boca

Buenos Aires is not just a city, it’s a metropolis. Full of gorgeous old buildings and tonnes of bakeries. To my gluten free friends, I wish you luck in this city. The neighbourhoods of Palermo are where I felt a vibrant energy – tree lined streets and sub neighbourhoods with slick names such as Soho and Hollywood are full of funky bars and restaurants.

 Eat late, drink late, stumble home late in Palermo

I can hand on heart report that Argentineans lives up to their reputation of being carnivores, who take great pride in serving up great grilled meat in the endless choice of Parilla’s (Argentine steakhouse and the name of the metal grill used to cook). I accidentally learnt a lesson about NOT ordering ‘Parrillada’. When it first hit the table I quickly stabbed my fork into what I thought was chicken (turns out it was tripe) and the eye fillet (liver disguised as beef). Let’s just say I won’t be ordering that again. Luckily there was an abundant flow of Malbec to wash it down. Malbec is from the wine region of Mendoza, Argentina and one of my favourite vinos. So naturally I’ve indulged in a glass (several) everyday whilst being in Argentina, it is after all very cheap here and full of antioxidants. Gracias to whoever first brought the vine cuttings from France to Argentina.


I had a lot of different experiences in Buenos Aires, here are some of my picks of where to eat, drink and be merry

La Cabrera Restaurant (Palermo, Soho) – Apparently this restaurant has won a lot of awards and therefore think that not eating here whilst in Palermo would be like going to Italy and not eating pizza (then posting a picture of it). I probably shouldn’t have had the grilled Proveleta (goats cheese) before indulging in almost 500g of steak, but the meat coma that followed was well worth it. Perfectly grilled meat is served with a long wooden board of sides including eggplant, pickles and sensational homemade sauces.

La Cabrera grilled meats, sides and Proveleta

Pain et Vin wine bar (Palermo, Soho) – A cosy space that feels like you are in somebody’s home, which bakes it’s own sourdough bread.Tick. Tick. I saw a group celebrating a birthday the night I visited and said ‘who needs cake when there is smoked meat, cheese, bread and a wall full of grape juice to try’. The host Pablo seemed to have superhuman powers, being able to tell me what I felt like drinking, when I didn’t even know myself. Every recommendation was spot on and followed with a party in my mouth. I tilted my head and squinted my eyes in confusion when Pablo came over with a glass of Torrontes (Argentinian white wine grape) and told us ‘chew’ whilst taking a sip. It worked! The sweet smelling vino actually tasted dry and crisp.

Pain et Vin
Pain et Vin

El Sanjuanino Restaurant (Recoleta) –Three hours after walking into the restaurant where I thought we were grabbing a quick lunch, I realised we had stumbled across a gem that is popular with both locals and travellers. Joseph looked after us all afternoon and was hilarious. He attempted to play matchmaker for other diners and provided my table with a never-ending supply of Malbec vino. With all this free vino came great traditional Argentinian food. Milanesa, which is referred to everywhere as ‘crumbed meat’ (aka veal schnitzel), lentil and chorizo stew and after trying Empanadas all over the city, this restaurant was up there with my favourites.

El Sanjuanino Buenos Aires
Joseph from El Sanjuanino

Thelonious Jazz club (Palermo) – A really cool place to spend time in with a warm inviting presence. This venue had a great ambience, as it was full of vintage character within the converted mansion, a great drinks menu, locals and a varied age demographic. The musicians really love what they do and this energy radiated throughout the room. An absolute bargain at $180 pesos (around $18 AUD) and a must do for music lovers visiting Buenos Aires. And do yourselves a favour and try the Chocotorta cake it also created a party in my mouth.


My next post will be after visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like my Facebook page ‘Belindness’ for some of the other places I visit in-between posts.

Belindaness xoxo