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Barranquilla is a city on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia.
Barranquilla is a cosmopolitan and primarily industrial city, often visited by businessmen of all nationalities. However the main attraction for tourism is its carnival "Carnaval de Barranquilla," that takes place during the four days before Ash Wednesday. In November of 2003, UNESCO proclaimed it as one of 28 different "masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity".
Barranquilla is also called by its residents and Colombians in general "Curramba" (from a language game, in synthesis, Curramba is a reference to "party") and the Golden Gate to Colombia (Puerta de Oro de Colombia), this due to its location on the delta of the Magdalena river, making it the most important commercial sailing port to the Atlantic Ocean for the nation.
Residents are known as "Barranquilleros" and are characterized by their outgoing and friendly attitude and relaxed behavior. This makes the average barranquillero an optimistic and open individual, as well as goal-directed and hard-working.
Visitors arrive to the city traditionally by plane at Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport. It's on the far south side of the city.
International direct flights are available to Quito, Miami, Panama City and Curaçao. Domestic non-stop flights arrive from Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, Montería, San Andrés, Valledupar and Uribia.
Moving around in Barranquilla depends largely on the traveler's budget, language barriers and spirit of adventure.
Renting a car is an option for visitors with a more comfortable budget, the daily fare for an economy vehicle being around 150.000 pesos a day and with gasoline prices of about 8.000 pesos (4 usd) per gallon. However, driving in Barranquilla can be obviously tricky if you don't know your way around or the changes in traffic during rush hour. Rent a car services can be dealt with from abroad or upon arrival to the hotel, may that be the case.
Taking a taxi is by far the best option for the newcomer. As of January 2011, the minimum fare is now 6.000 pesos(3.35 USD).
For those with more spirit for adventure, buses are another option. In this case, talking to the driver may not be necessary, but knowing someone in town is definitely of great help when choosing the right route. Bus fares are around 70 cents per ride, sometimes a little more if the bus is equipped with air conditioning (not all of them are).Be warned that the buses do not wait until you are seated before they move and when getting off, often start back up before both your feet are on the ground when getting off. They also start and stop abruptly, so hang on. Barranquilla also has a Transmilenio of its own, the Transmetro. You need to buy the transport card.
What to see
Every year by the end of February or early March (fourty days before Ash Wednesday), Barranquilla hosts its famous "Carnaval de Barranquilla" (carnival of Barranquilla), a four-day-long celebration in which the true partying spirit of the city is unleashed. Parades, dances, concerts and many cultural manifestations take place all over town.
Barranquilla also houses the beautiful and famous Teatro Amira de la Rosa, the old Customs building-Edificio de la Aduana, that serves as library as well as a museum; the Museum of Gold; and many other great places to visit. There are also a large number of art deco buildings built from the late thirties into the fifties. (See the book Barranquilla-Ciudad Art Deco By Gustavo Garcia)
Another place to visit is "Bocas de Ceniza", where the Magdalena River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Museo del Caribe, Calle 36 No. A great collection of the history of Barranquilla and the Caribbean. Modern displays featuring immigration, native cultures, ecology, food and else. A special chamber dedicated to author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Barranquilla is a large, complex city. Daytime activities are mainly of shopping and eating, but nightlife is active all year round, with bars and nightclubs open from Thursdays to Sundays in most cases. Some of the main party spots in town are La Troja, Trucupey Latin Disco,Discolo, Kapitol and Frogg Leggs if you plan to dance.
For a more relaxed environment some options are Luna Negra, Beba Genobeba, Old Times (an 80's retro bar) and some spots known as "estancos": These are basically liquor stores with or without tables, where music is played on weekends. Commonly people gather in these places to drink listening to music from the place itself or from their own car audio systems (in Barranquilla sound restrictions are quite lenient). As well there are magnificent restaurants in the area known as "Washington" such as Naia, Mix where the tourist can experience an elegant, chic night.
Some places are known as "puntos frios" or "mundo de la cerveza" (world of beer), in which you should be able to get beer pretty much any day. There are also small tiendas (convenience stores all over the city).
If you are lucky enough to go during Carnival you will find yourself in a place in which everybody is up to party for entire days with no rest.
Both local and international cuisine are available in town. Local delicacies include arroz con coco and sancocho de guandul (a soup made of pigeon peas or "guandules" and meat), bocachico frito (fried fish from the Magdalena river), sancocho, and fritos (fried foods), including arepas and empanadas. If you wish to try local food, good choices are;
La mano Costena
El Tremendo Guandul
El portal del Marisco (seafood).
El corral del Marisco (seafood).
Try to go to "Las Flores" in the nearbies "Bocas de Ceniza". There are many seafood restaurants next to Magdalena River. Very good food and environment.
All the above offer traditional food at very affordable prices.
Some other places to go, for a more international menu are:
Doña Linda (Arabic food)
El Arabe Gourmet (Lebanese food)
Pepe Anca (steak)
Pepe Anca (try their pepper steak. pricey but worth it)
La bonga del sinu (steak)
El Merendero (steak)
Cafe de la Casa (Colombian gourmet sandwiches, salads, drinks with outdoor lounge area)
Bora Bora (Thai)
La vera cucina italiana (Italian)
Nena Lela (Italian)
La Caprichosa (Pizza) Very good pizzas. You can order by pieces (very huge pieces) for only USD 1.50, and it will be enough to keep your stomach up.
Pastelaria Dulcerna Calle 98 #53. At the Country area. The place to get dessert.