Cartagena de Indias may be chock full of tourists but for me it was still a fairy-tale city. In the UNESCO World Heritage walled colonial city every turn breaths an atmosphere of romance and legends. I would scan the Caribbean sea from atop the battlements, half expecting to sight a pirate ship about to attack. The historical legacy of Cartagena is still very much alive today, creating a richer, more enticing environment for it.
In the old town of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is a cathedral unlike any other I have ever visited. La Basílica del Voto Nacional combines an appreciation for religious architecture with an almost adventure sport activity that will chill to the bone anybody with the slightest phobia of heights. I had read up on La Basílica before visiting, so I thought I knew what to expect, but it was so much worse. My minor fear of heights together with a worry about the seemingly non-existent Ecuadorian health and safety regulations, created an extremely nerve-wracking experience.
Fremantle Prison is Western Australia’s only UNESCO World Heritage listed building. Built using convict labour in the 1850s, the prison was in use up until 1991. That means you may be lucky enough to be given a tour by a former guard or even to be joined by a former prisoner. I was given an extremely informative and entertaining tour through the maze of courtyards and cells by guide Matthew, giving an insight into prisoners’ lives within Fremantle Prison.
I spent a month in the city of Cuenca in the highlands of Ecuador. Its centre is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to an abundance of beautiful colonial buildings. However, even looking away from the city at the surrounding imposing mountains may leave you awe-struck. Here are my top recommendations for a day or two in Cuenca.
The Galapagos Islands. Home to giant tortoises, marine iguanas and blue footed boobies. In fact, the Galapagos is home to a number of species that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. This bio-diverse archipelago featuring active volcanoes, mangrove forests and soft, golden sand beaches caught the attention of Charles Darwin and is now famed worldwide as THE place to visit for wildlife enthusiasts. If you thought a visit to the amazing Galapagos Islands meant spending a huge amount of money, then think again, because it can be done on a budget and I can show you how.