Carnaval De Barranquilla has been on my bucket list for a while now. Ever since I was younger, exploring other cities in Colombia was prohibited by my parents. So you could only imagine why I have the urge to explore all of Colombia and go back to experience the roots of where my family is from.
A couple of my friends relocated to Bogota, Colombia for work and it was the talk of the cities that had us all decide that it would be such a great experience, if not now then when!? I love these decisions, and I must get them from my mom because sure enough, she booked her flight to meet us. And not to tell me I shouldn’t be going, but to enjoy life with one of her 5 daughters.
Our flight from the San Juan airport to Bogota was only 2.5 hours with AVIANCA. Such a breeze to fly with them. No hidden luggage fees, they feed you for free and they even offer you free beverages, beer, or wine! (White please!!) Getting into Bogota was not a breeze… Customs was about a 2hr wait haha. So I suggest waiting to use the restroom and walking your ass to the Immigration line as soon as you get off the plane to beat everyone else. Let me fast forward to getting to Barranquilla. It took a quick 1hr flight with AVIANCA from Bogota to Barranquilla. And a 4omin taxi drive that costs us 30.000mil pesos. Which is equivalent to about 15 USD.
We were a group of 10, while some stayed at the beautiful Hotel EL Prado, my boyfriend Kyle, our friend Mike and my mama all stayed at the Hotel Casa Colonial. A cozy little hotel in El Prado, Barranquilla. I easily booked it through Booking.com. And the hotels’ communication through email was quick. I suggest booking weeks in advance as most hotels sell out around Carnaval. There was a beautiful courtyard where they serve breakfast every morning. The only down part was that we did get a courtyard room and we heard everything that was going on during breakfast while we were still in bed trying to recover from the prior nights. But I would definitely book with them again. The staff, especially Claudia are very sweet and attend-able. We felt really safe here, and there was even a guard at the entrance 24/7 to let you in and out a secured gate.
If you’re looking to travel to Cartagena, Colombia… check out this beautiful home for a larger group.
Get ready for loads of walking and even more dancing. I felt so prepared, but was I fooled. Every day I woke up with sore legs from all the dancing. My feet felt great though. I bought these sandals that I had to get another pair just to wear throughout the whole trip. Trust me when I say they are awesome!! Check them here at Lulus.com . I also got the Orange FreePeople Bralette from Lulus. And to tie the Carnaval look altogether, I got some fun Harness Feather & Glitter shoes from Amazon. The shoes were fun to look at lol. I wore them once as I instantly felt discomfort on my right ankle. A quick bandage helped but I never wore them again for the trip. I will be wearing them for the St Thomas Carnival. I’m not saying always were comfy shoes, so if you’re in some sweet heals or unpredictable shoes, then hail a taxi, they are so cheap and will get you wherever you want, quick! Just hang on!!
Barranquilla has amazing food, and their restaurants do not disappoint. There are varieties from Cuban to Arabian options. We ate at Sabina, a Spanish inspired restaurant. The cocktails were great and the atmosphere was lively. including a live band and dancing. Another day we had lunch at Verdarero. It’s filled with Carnaval decor, so it was perfect to get our day started there before we went to the parade for the day. Their mojito pitchers are delicious, each glass garnished with a piece of sugar cane. We ate well, and there are many options to choose from. If not a cozy restaurant, it was a locally owned panaderia, or street vendors. Just be cautious of the street food. I mainly bought “pinchos” for the stray dogs and even had a local kid ask me for one. But our stomachs were not as strong as we thought after late-night “pinchos”.
Our first day of the parade was the Batalla De Flores (Battle of the flowers), but its was way more than just flowers. The whole parade was filled with flowers, feathered troupes, costumes, and large decorated platform trucks with bands playing everything from Reggaeton to Cumbia. My biggest surprise was seeing Carlos Vives roll by. My mom pointed him out to me. We grew up listening to his music in the home. Every weekend blasting his beautiful voice! So that was a major highlight to experience with my mom, my boyfriend, and a great group of friends. The 2nd & 3rd day which are not as full as the first day, typically because the troupes are less and I have noticed that they were repeats from the first day. So if you do plan to experience Carnaval De Barranquilla, make sure you go to the first day of the parade. We pre-bought our Palco tickets which get you in the shade and in the stands where there are beer tenants that keep the beer flowing. The Palco tickets are only sold as a pack for all 3 days. We did attend all three days, but could have done with only the first day. If you go that route only go to the first day, you can always print the ticket and re-sell it on the street. Just make sure its scan-able size or email to the buyer. Each day after the parade dies down, the people spill into the side streets. Street vendors push their sales, and the locals open up their storefronts & driveways into inviting parties, where it all turns into multiple smaller parties. Foam streamers & corn starch is thrown just to add more enjoyment to celebrating. I stocked up with two cans of foam for the after parties, but they were almost gone mid-parade. Our best nights were at a side bar named “La Sorpresa” There they sold enpanadas, bunelos, jugos, beer, doritos..etc. With a beer in our hands we danced in the streets with everyone and had a great time!
I wish I knew what brand of makeup they use for all of their colorful looks, their body paints seems waterproof. As I get ready for the St Thomas, Carnival I am doing a lot of my shopping though Amazon. I know there are tons of brands that are amazing but If your looking for a great colorful sweat and waterproof eyeshadow palette, then get the Beauty Glazed Color Fusion and please go with biodegradable glitter.
Over all my trip to Barranquilla was awesome. We all went with open minds, ready to gain new experiences, learn the culture a bit more, dance, party and travel. If you plan on going, shoot me an email, I’d love to give you any advice I have that I didn’t mention here. I didn’t realize how long this post was going to be so defiantly let me know if you are planning to experience Carnaval De Barranquilla. Enjoy the photos, many were taken by my friend Kayla Dittrich, so props to her for some amazing photos.