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The Insider's guide

Rainbow Nelson in Colombia

Rainbow Nelson, co-founder of city guide This Is Cartagena, serves up some local knowledge.

Where’s best to let your hair down?
Try Bazurto Social Club, just off Parque Centenario. The bar celebrates the Afro-Caribbean sounds long forgotten by most of the Getsemaní crossover hangouts; champeta, cumbia, terapia get more of a look-in and the drinks are cheaper than Café Havana. The owners Fadia de la Rosa and Jorge Escandon also organise tours of the raucous, open-air market Bazurto that gives its name to the bar. Pick up some fresh fish and then head back to Jorge’s place in Manzanillo del Mar to prepare a killer ceviche by the beach.

Where’s good to chill?
There can be too many distractions to totally switch off in the Old Town, so escape to the islands. Playa Blanca, Baru, is the best public beach ‘in Cartagena’, even though it’s a 45-minute speedboat ride from the centre. When the boat drops you off, turn left and walk 10 minutes to gain a little space. Take a hammock and sling it up in one of the shady huts of Mama Ruth’s place where you can get a slap-up fish lunch for £6.50. If you want to push the boat out, Agua Baru offers an ultra-luxurious beach retreat that you will find hard to leave.

Where’s good for a cheap meal?
La Mulata is great. For £4 you get a fish soup starter followed by one of four local delicacies that change daily. Also, the Pordesh Indian Restaurant is a pop-up curry house that serves freshly prepared dopiazas, tarka dals and bhunas, and has mains for £4.

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