Day 16: Leaving Cartagena, Colombia
Today is the day that I leave Cartagena, and also Colombia. It was an incredible time, with a bunch of new impressions, experiences. Not only from Cartagena itself but also from my time in Medellín. I like this city a bit more than Cartagena, as I could imagine that I can live there for a few months. In my opinion, Cartagena is good for spending a few days of holidays. But as soon as I had seen the entire old town plus the district of Bocagrande, it felt like I have seen everything. I guess that would be the perfect moment to leave the city and explore its surroundings. Whether travel to Santa Marta or other parts of the Caribbean coast or going back to the inner parts of the country. Or, as I did at this time, leaving the country for another adventure.
Therefore, I packed my suitcase one more time, had breakfast on the rooftop for the last time, and then waited for my driver. Luckily, my hotel the Akel House* offered a taxi service from the airport to the hotel and back. I love to take advantage of such offers. It gives me a certain feeling of security. Although I travel alone for quite a long time now, I still feel uncomfortable with situations in which I do not know how to handle. For example, if I arrive at an airport in a foreign country where I do not speak the language at all, and I do not know how to get to my hotel, Airbnb, or wherever I would stay. Alone this thought brings up some feelings like panic, fear, anxiety. However, so far my experiences with such situations proofed my wrong and today I know I can handle such situations. On the other side, if I have the chance to avoid this uncertainty, I take it!
So I did for my drive back to the airport. The hotel staff organized the driver, and the only thing I had to do was being ready in time for the checkout and the taxi. It worked out very well. The driver was on time, the traffic was not too bad, and when we arrived at the airport, I had plenty of time for checking in, dropping off my bag, and find my way to the gate. That was is! My stay in Colombia would end soon!
What Can I Say About Colombia?
I do like Colombia very much! I was scared beforehand of visiting a new country, and continent for the first time. Would be able to handle the foreign language, culture, and way of living? I could! At least, at the places where I have been.
Cartagena is, of course, not the most difficult destinations. With its years’ long experience as a typical vacation location, it is already well prepared for all the travelers, and tourists from all over the world. The service of the hotels and restaurants are fantastic and already used to all those strangers. And even English is almost no issue. Although, it is still better to know a few Spanish phrases. I also believe that if I go to another country, I should be prepared a bit to speak the local language. Not perfect, of course not! But some basics, like daily phrases, “Good morning,” “Bonjour,” “Mille Grazie,” or “Me puede ayudar, por favor”? Those little phrases could mean the whole world to the people, they show respect and just help to make conversations easier.
In contrary, Medellín is still not the typical tourist destination. But it is still a big city, and a lot is going on there. While in districts like El Poblado you can find the restaurants, clubs, and bars on each corner, there are still poorer areas, especially, in the outer neighborhoods of the city. Overall, I would prefer to go back to Medellín. It feels more like real life and not a shiny, bright, vacation perfect world like Cartagena is. And there is so much more; I would like to visit. I had not enough time for this diverse city. And so it goes straight on my list of places which I want to see (at least) a second time.
Stopover In Panama City
Anyway, after boarding and take off I could have a last look down to the city below me. I felt sad that I had to leave, but at the same time, I was also happy to go back to a place which I already know. A destination which I visited in my first year of solo traveling, back in 2014. Ever since I wanted to go back one more time! But I had to have a bit more patience. My flight was a connection flight with a stopover in Panama City! You cannot believe how stunning the view is when the planes fly in!
The time of changing planes was less than an hour. The flight from Cartagena was a delayed and the stopover time got shorter and shorter. When we landed, the boarding of my connection flight was already ongoing. I always start to panic a bit, when there is a possibility of missing a flight. So far, it never happens! So it did not this time. Fortunately, I made just in time. And so, my quick “intermezzo” in Panama was over before I could realize that I was there!
Arriving In New York City
If your luggage made it as well, you would see when you are waiting at the bend! Yeah, I made it to New York City! One more time, I am here! It is crazy. The only city, I never wanted to visit, is the city which I visited most! Crazy! Anyways, it was about 10 or 11 p.m. when we landed safe and sound, went through customs and finally waited for my bag. Again, I realized why I love to travel with carry-on luggage. It saves time, and I can be sure, that it does not get lost.
Waiting For My Bag
After half an hour waiting for all the bags from the plane, it felt like ages, I saw my bag and grabbed it. I went towards the exit, hoping to find my way to the rental car station. For the last remaining week, I rented a car. Because, I did not stay in the city the whole time but went out to Long Island, Montauk to be specific, I thought it would be more comfortable to get around by car and not by trains or buses, as I did the in 2014.
Looking For The Rental Car Station
But to find the rental cars was not that easy. The signs and directions at JFK are not very intuitive. So I asked the lady at the information point where I have to go. She was so friendly and patient with all of us (I was not the only one who looked for the rental cars). That is what I love about the US; everyone is so friendly all the time.
Finding The Hotel
She gave me the directions and shortly afterward, I sat on the bus which brought to my rental car station. I got my car, set up the GPS and I could drive to my hotel* for the night. One night only, as I did not want to drive that far in the middle of the night, and I would have a date with another Wrestling show in the evening of the next day.
Eventually, I arrived at the hotel, I checked in and fell on to my bed. The only thing I wanted for this day was falling asleep!