⭐⭐⭐ Starfish ⭐⭐⭐ Have you ever touched a starfish?

We have and it was pretty rough.  That was Emily's descriptions by the way.

I love that we get to do these things so that the children have their own memories and experiences to draw on in the future.

One day, I hope that they will be writing a story at school and they'll use a simile like
🦑🦑🦑 Jellyfish Garden 🦑🦑🦑 First up, I need a jellyfish emoji.  Poor old squid has had to step in today.

We loved the jellyfish garden though.  It was like a weird magical place full of the strangest creatures on Earth.

I'm not a fan of jellyfish.  I'm not sure what the point is, but I am aware that that is probably just me being ignorant.

If I spot a jellyfish in the sea then I am out SO FAST.  They creep me out.

That said they are mesmerising and fascinating.  The way they swim and move around.

We need to learn more about these funny little blobs. ❤️ #jellyfish #sealife #sealifesydney #sydney #aquarium #underthesea #deepsea #exploringtheoceans #exploringtheworld #travelblog #traveljournalist
🌊🌊🌊 Sealife Sydney 🌊🌊🌊 After a week of walking around quoting Finding Nemo (think
👸👸 Sisters👸👸 Anyone else got one?  We've all got one.  Mummy's got a sister, Daddy's got a sister and Emily and Alice have each other.

It is funny watching these two together. It reminds me so much of the relationship I had with my sister growing up. 
They love each other so much, but sometimes they can't stand each other.

A lovely game can turn into tears and screams within seconds, but is usually resolved with a grumbled
🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️ Mermaid Rocks 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️ I coined little rocks that jut out like this
🦀🦀🦀 Rock pooling 🦀🦀🦀 Another thing that we loved about Balmoral Beach were the rock pools.  We'd done a bit of rock pooling back home but this was another level.

The rock formations around the edge of the beach were beautiful and created natural pockets of water full of shellfish and crabs.

The girls had a great time climbing over the rocks and peering into pools on the hunt for crabs.

We saw several of them scurry off and hide in dark corners but one or two stopped to pose for a photo. ❤️ #rockpools #worldschool #exploretheworld #crabbing #beachlife #childrenoftheworld #learningontheroad #bigwideworld #sydney #australia
🌴🌴🌴 Balmoral Beach 🌴🌴🌴 No trip to Sydney would be complete without a trip to one of their gorgeous beaches.

After getting chatting to a random guy in the park, he recommended Balmoral Beach as a great place to take the children.

This was then backed up by a recommendation from the doctor that we took Emily to see (another story). With two recommendations, we packed our bags and jumped on a bus.  And wow!  This beach did not disappoint!

With two sandy coves separated by a rocky point in the middle it was the perfect spot for the kids.

It is sheltered nicely from the big waves that roll in from the Pacific meaning that you an go in and swim properly. ❤️ #beachlife #sydney #australia #kidsthatexplore #traveltheworld #familytravel #kidsthattravel #travelingtoddler #seetheworld #bestbeach
⛲⛲⛲ Darling Harbour ⛲⛲⛲ After some rather firm demands from the kids, we set out to find a playground in Sydney.

The first one we found was incredible.  The best playground we've been to.  EVER!

It is in the Darling Harbour area, which is a stunning place with lots of restaurants and entertainment.  But the park is by far the best it.

It had the usual swings and slides, which were better than average anyway.  But the best bit was the water play. 
There were three water play areas.  One with a series of dams and waterwheels where you could change the route that the water flowed through.

Then there was a huge paddling pool with stepping stones that i love soaking my hot and sweaty feet in.

But the bit the kids loved the most was this.  The jets of water.  It was the bit that ruined my
🌉🌉🌉 Sydney Harbour Bridge 🌉🌉🌉 On our first day in Sydney, we caught a train to the North End of the bridge.  Our plan was to use the pedestrian path that runs along the east side to get some great views of the city.

Walking along the (free) path was grand but, due to the fires in New South Wales, some smoke had blown in and limited the views.

It is a spectacular bridge though.  Work started on the bridge in 1914 and was designed to look like Hell Gate Bridge in New York.

The bridge was finally opened in 1932.  It is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world and until 2012 was the widest long-span bridge too.

Aside from the iconic views, it attractive tourists for another reason: you can walk right over the top of it.

If I'm honest, just looking at the people walk over it made me feel nauseous.  But Emily said she wanted to do it.  Thankfully, she's too young, so she will have to come back when she's a bit older. ❤️ #sydneyharbourbridge #newsouthwales #sydneyviews #travelphoto #photooftheday #seetheworld #kidsthattravel #somuchtosee #travelbloggers
🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Sydney Opera House 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 This hugely iconic building was a must see on our list of things to do in Sydney.

It was pretty hard to see it really as it sticks out and train into the city went right past it.

Getting up close to it was incredible though.  It is MASSIVE!

One thing that I didn't realise was that the roof is actually covered in white tiles.  Not sure what I thought it was made from but it wasn't tiles.

Plus the views from around the opera house are stunning too.  You can see the botanical gardens and the harbour bridge and so much more. ❤️ #sydney #sydneyoperahouse #australia #nsw #travelblog #familytravel #travelphotography #travelfamily #globetrotting #wanderlust #downunder
🐦🐦🐦 Parrots 🐦🐦🐦 How cool is this picture?

Sydney Opera House in the background and a parrot on her shoulder.  It is one of Emily's favourites from the whole trip.

We've seen some pretty cool birds on our travels.  We saw some random parrot on the beach in Colombia.  But nowhere feels quite as exotic as Australia.

Even the bin chickens (white ibis') where exciting when we got here.  Until we realised that they were just fancy pigeons.

But you'll see green lorikeets fly up to balconies and they are just beautiful.

Much better than crows and sparrows back home. ❤️ #sydneyoperahouse #birdsoftheworld #parrots #binchickens #australia #sydney #traveltheworld #travelblog #kidsthattravel #worldschooling #exploretheworld #learningaroundtheworld

Cartagena, Colombia: would we go back?

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

After we left Florida, we flew to Cartagena in Northwest Colombia.  Although, our original plan had been to visit the Bahamas first, we had to make a change of plans after Hurricane Dorian.

 

I have to admit that I was nervous.  Florida had been such an easy place to exist.  We had so much space, a pool, a car and endless entertainment thanks to our Disney World tickets.

 

Heading to Cartagena would be firmly outside of our comfort zone and our first taste of South America.

 

Arriving in Colombia

The flight from Orlando to Cartagena was easy.  We had to take a short flight to Fort Lauderdale and then it was a couple of hours from there until we touched down in Colombia.

 

First impressions were that it was hot.  And not hot like in Florida, this was a stormy, muggy kind of hot.  The sort of hot that makes your clothes stick to your body in an instant.

 

But even the snapshot we got of Cartagena from the airport looked like we were in South America.  It looked so different from anywhere else we had been before.

 

Going through border control was a breeze and was the start of a series of similar experiences throughout South America.  They are very kind to families, and we were ushered into a separate queue, which meant that our passports were stamped within 10 minutes of the plane landing.

 

Journey to our accommodation

This is where it got a bit, erm, fun!  Released into Colombia, we needed to get to the Airbnb we had booked.  Suddenly our lack of Spanish was very obvious and felt rather shortsighted of us.

 

Getting a taxi was easy enough as there was a queue of them outside of the airport.  I handed over the address and hoped that he knew where we were headed.  The taxi started and we were off.

 

Driving in Cartagena is exhilarating.  They will use any available bit of the road whether it is a lane or not.  Then the beep to let you know you are there.  They beep for a lot of things actually.  The beeping is near constant.

 

I saw our driver ring the telephone number of our Airbnb hosts.  There was a conversation in Spanish and then a teenage boy hopped in the taxi with us.

 

I had put these two events together and worked out that this boy was going to show us to our accommodation.  Dan had not and was utterly bewildered by what had just happened.  We laughed about this afterwards.

 

The remainder of the journey had us a bit worried.  It was only a short stretch to the apartment, but this took us past a large pile of rubbish discarded on the pavement, and some houses made of corrugated iron that were nearly falling into a river.

 

It was at this point that we began to worry about what we had signed ourselves up to.  Was this how the rest of South America would be?  Or had we just driven down a bad bit on a bad day?

 

Our Accommodation

Luckily, the latter was true!  Turns out that that was how rubbish collection worked around there and we had arrived the day before the tractor came to collect it all.  It was gone next morning.

 

And yes, those were houses, but we quickly came to realise that this had no reflection on the area of the people that lived in them.  It was a great to see how people in these areas lived.

 

Our apartment was lovely though.  It had great views of the Caribbean Sea, air-conditioning and a roof-top swimming pool.  All for £30 a night.

 

Marbella Beach

The closest beach to our accommodation was Marbella Beach.  Just a short walk from our apartment we went there regularly to cool off.

 

Cartagena’s beaches are OK.  They are black sand beaches and there’s a lot of red seaweed so they aren’t particularly pretty.

 

But the water is warm, non-tidal and with just enough waves to make it interesting.  Emily loved swimming here because it was easy to swim in and the waves made it fun.

 

Old Town

This is the reason that people visit Cartagena.  The colourful buildings, the oozing culture and the welcoming locals are what makes it so exciting.

 

We spent many hours just strolling around the streets of Old Town.  There were restaurants and shops playing music at all hours of the day.

 

We found a fab little ice cream shop that made it using liquid nitrogen called Mr Cool Gelato.  The kids loved watching the ingredients turn from liquid to solid and ready to eat.

 

One placed that we loved was the chocolate museum.  The reason we loved this place was mostly because of the near endless free samples.  We even made a purchase in the shop: chocolate peanut butter.  Emily’s choice!

 

Palenquearas can be found on most street corners in Old Town.  These are the local fruit selling women who wear bright coloured clothing.  For a tip, they’ll balance a pineapple on your head and let you take a photo with them.

 

 

Getsemani

Sitting adjacent to the walled city, Getsemani has recently moved from rough neighbourhood to hipster hangout.

 

With cafes, bars, hostels and street art galore, it is easy to see the attraction of this area and we visited a couple of times to soak it all up.

 

One of our favourite locations in Getsemani was Calle de las Sombrillas, the Umbrella Street.  Here there are colourful umbrellas strung between the buildings.

 

Underneath you will find tourists wiggling about with cameras trying to capture a shot with umbrellas in hand.  It was a laugh to watch.

 

Colourful is the best word to describe Getsemani.  From the art to the buildings to the flags and umbrellas, the whole places in a feast for the eyes and not to be missed.

 

 

Playa Blanca

Even though the beaches around Cartagena were disappointing, this didn’t mean that our time in Colombia was a complete write off in this regard.

 

Less than an hour from the Old Town is a stunning beach called Playa Blanca complete with white sand and turquoise seas.

 

You can get a return minibus trip there from Hostel Mamallena in Old Town/Getsemani for $50,000 (Colombian Pesos) which is about £12 per person.  Kids are free but they have to sit on your lap if it gets busy.

 

When we arrived at Playa Blanca we started to walk along the beach.  It is recommended that you walk a LONG way from the drop off point.  This guarantees you the best beaches and far less crowded experience.

 

It was definitely worth the walk.  We hired a beach bed for $50,000 and spent the day enjoying a quiet beach.

 

We swam, we snoozed, we played in the sand, we watched the fish, the boats and the jet skis.  I drank pina colada from a pineapple and had a massage.  It was a great day!

 

We also ordered some lunch at the beach and enjoyed various meats with coconut rice, which was delicious.

 

The ride back in the minibus was a sleepy and satisfied one.  We booked to go again almost immediately.

 

Weather in Cartagena

We were in Colombia in October and Cartagena is still in the Northern Hemisphere but not by much.  The weather was super interesting hence why I decided to write about it.

 

It’s hot!  Like intensely so.  We found that the heat would build-up, so you’d start off feeling OK but it quickly became unbearable.

 

It’s also pretty moody too.  Rain is common as are thunderstorms.  We watched many storms overnight but never seemed to be able to fully see them, which was a shame.

 

Would we go back to Cartagena?

I’m not sure!  As amazing as it was to visit this beautiful town, I feel like once is enough.  We have seen it, enjoyed it and loved it.

 

Plus, it is hot (have I mentioned that yet?) and noisy and busy.  My sleep and sanity were largely saved by noise-cancelling headphones.  You have been warned!

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

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2 Comments

  • Nadalie Bardo
    December 11, 2019 at 3:34 am

    I’ve always wanted to visit Cartagena! And hope to one day soon. Also, I just love saying, Cartagena. Can’t wait!

  • Ellen Mika Zelasko
    December 11, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    This place looks amazing! It was not even on my radar, but now, I want to go! Thanks for the heads up about the noise. I too have trouble sleeping with too much noise, especially when away from home. Loved the photos!

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