If you can bear the heat and humidity, there are plenty of rewards for photographers in Cartagena. Every ancient wall is a canvas, every wooden shutter and every rusted padlock a handcrafted sculpture. The Old City has been beautifully restored, with just the right level of peeling paint and scuffed wood to stop it feeling …
For a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the ancient wooden doors of Old Cartagena are each as exciting as a book cover – each awaiting to be opened to reveal the stories within, of traders, aristocrats and drug barons.
I bet that many stories have unravelled behind these battered windows. The light and heat and flies are banished by flimsy shutters with proud layers of new paint, by mesh screens, by pieces of wood sliced up to fit the frames. But people remain within, kept here by half-century-old laws.
The history of Hagia Sophia seems significant right now, as it is a symbol of the different cultures, religions and governments that have ruled this country. Even its names tell stories of its multicultural past – Hagia Sophia is Greek, while Aya Sofya is Turkish – and the city where it stands straddles two continents.
The vibe was urban, the music modern, but the setting was not. I was in the centre of the historic city of Florence, surrounded by Renaissance architecture, fine marble statues and magnificent churches, and around 200 Florentine hipsters, having a blast on a Friday night. In a destination famed for its 14th century roots, I was a enjoying a particularly 21st century night out.