I am very pleased to say my Spanish is getting better. I now can ask the location of the bathroom. I don’t understand the answer but at least people seem to get the question. I just kind of hope that some part of the answer includes pointing.
One of the more recent words I have learned is: champiñón. It is Spanish for a button mushroom. The pronunciation in Spanish sounds like champion in English. I learned this word when ordering Stromboli and could add my own ingredients. When I learned the word, I thought how odd it must be sometimes for people living here. A lot of the music played is in English, well not a lot. Some of it is. Like when we were riding the bus here and we were treated to 80’s hits in English. The Colombians must really wonder about some of the music. For instance, why is Queen singing, “We are the Mushrooms”.
I have to tell you about the restaurant where Cindy and I ordered the Stromboli. It was obviously an Italian restaurant and located close to our hotel. It has four stars on TripAdivor which is not really great seems people hand out 5-stars reviews like cheap candy at Halloween. So, going in with low expectations meant we were going to get what we expected or be presently surprised. The food was slightly better than expected but this is not the point of me writing about our experience there.
This is the point. We sat close to the sidewalk in the outside seating area. Most restaurants here offer sidewalk seating. It is such fun to watch the world go by, have a couple of beers and eat some good food. Once the hot sun is down the temperature becomes quite comfortable. It there is a breeze, sitting outside is very enjoyable. In front of restaurant two young ladies walk along the sidewalk hawking the menu to passersby. After watching this for a short time, it rapidly became our entertainment for the evening. Not a single person, and I mean not one, managed to get past the restaurant without a sales pitch from one of these ladies. It was hysterical to watch. What was even funnier was how some people seemed to decide there and then that they needed a pizza. People watching is so entertaining. I swear, I saw a person walking down the street. He looked like he was very intense on going somewhere other than this restaurant. One of the ladies stepped right in front of this guy forcing him to stop. She gave her spiel about the menu. I could see on the guys face, well I not very hungry, I hadn’t planned to eat yet, but what the heck. It was like a magic spell was cast upon him making him yearn for a fresh pizza. He sat at one of the tables and ordered. While the food was slightly better than expected, the entertainment was priceless.
Our day today included a tour of the fort, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Cindy knows me well enough to understand I am totally bored to tears by old forts. All I see is a pile of bricks and a few old cannons. She also knows if it has a guided tour, the kind with the headsets that are self-paced, then I become open to it. We purchased out tickets on the hop-on hop-off bus. This accomplished two things. First, it saved us 10% off the admission price. Second, because we had tickets we didn’t have to wait in the long line. After getting our headsets from the kiosk across the street we were able to walk straight in. There is a very steep long walk up to the fort.
It is hot here. I know I haven’t mentioned this lately. The whole time I am walking about the fort all I can think about is how I am so glad I wasn’t born back then and had to serve as a soldier stationed here. First of all, the military and myself would never mesh. I am who I am and not all I can be. But also, I just cannot imagine having to wear the thick soldiers garb in the hot sun. I would have died. Never mind the enemy; I would have dropped dead from heatstroke.
The fort tour actually turned out to be pretty interesting. It contained tunnels and secret passages. It was well worth the entrance fee and price of the headset. Once again I was reminded about how the French, Spanish, English and Dutch fought furious battles to maintain control of these isolated places. The design of the fort was also very interesting. The 3 hour tour described how the fort was built from the top down. It sits on an existing hill and the construction started at the very top and continued downward. All I can say is, I’m glad the tour only required us to walk to the top once. Once there, it was a good feeling to know the rest of the tour was going to be downhill walking. If only there were shade! There was some shade and there was also benches in the shade to rest upon after making the climb up. Guess where all the tourist were?
We made our way back to the hop-on hop-off bus and rode back to the Bocagrande area near our hotel. We spent the rest of the day walking about taking in the sights of the New City. Our walk took us past the Navel Station. This is where Colombia trains new cadets. Part of the training is done on their magnificent tall ship, the ARC Gloria. This is not the first time we have come across ARC Gloria. When sailing out of Curacao last year, we sailed right past ARC Gloria as it was there participating in the flotilla of tall ships from all around the world.
Bocagrande is a vivid contrast to the Walled City a couple of a miles away. Tall buildings, modern wide streets and tons of restaurants cater to the tourist, some local for the beaches and some afar like us. We found a nice small Mexican food restaurant on a side street. It must have been fairly new since it had only two reviews on TripAdvisor. The restaurant used tablets as menus. I thought this to be a great idea for restaurants in touristy areas. We could select the language of the menu on the tablet and all the dishes had pictures. No surprises here. The food was really good and there is nothing like a couple of margaritas to numb the aching feet from all the walking.