Losing My Religion

Church-going and club-hopping in Cartagena, Colombia

After heading back to the hotel for a quick shower and an outfit change, we made our way to Café del Mar, Colombia's version of the Ibiza chill music bar. Located on a fort overlooking the ocean and the city, this outdoor watering hole is where all scenesters gather for cocktails before they're beckoned elsewhere. After a few New York-priced caipirinhas we knew we had to move on.

Mr. Babilla, located on a strip of bars and nightclubs near the city's Convention Center, may be one of the oldest clubs in Cartagena but it still ranks as one of my favorites for dancing. So what if tour groups usually drop their guests off here? No worries, it makes for interesting conversations since natives and tourists tend to equal out. (Plus, my cousin got to practice her German with a cute guy from Munich.) The real draw, though, is the table dancing that ensues after a couple of busty female bartenders dressed in tight jeans and midriffs jump on the bar to move to all sorts of rhythms—if there is a cheese factor to Mr. Babbilla it's immediately forgiven after their routine. Ask any man. A night here can go till 4 a.m. as it did for us.

The exterior of Iglesia y Convento de San Pedro Claver
photo: Grace Bastidas
The exterior of Iglesia y Convento de San Pedro Claver


For more information on Cartagena visit cartagenatravel.com.

Flights run as low as $500 from New York. Check with Avianca ,the national airline, for rates.

Where to stay:

Casa del Arzobispado
Calle del Arzobispado Cra. 5 # 54-32
For reservations write to hcasaarzobispado@enred.com
A double room runs for about $460,000 pesos (roughly $220) and includes breakfast and all the natural fruit shakes you can drink.

Where to eat:

Casa de Socorro
Calle Larga, No 8b 112, 664 46 58

Restaurante La Vitrola
Calle Baloco Calle 33 No 2-01, 664 82 43

Restaurante Nautillus
Cra. 2 No 9-145, 665 39 64

Since Cartagena is the type of all-inclusive vacation that makes visitors beg for seconds, we inevitably repeated the same program the following evening. I'll spare you the details. Apart from all the history, culture, and romance the city has to offer, it's evident there's always plenty of carousing to be had. Plus, the accessibility of all the churches means you can always repent at a church nearby before heading back home. That's the beauty of Catholicism—almost all is forgiven.

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