Cartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia
4 days - April 2018
From Medellin, 16 hours of bus were needed to reach the Caribbeans Coast and Cartagena de los Indias. Well the plane being only 20 dollars more, the decision to fly was quickly made!
We left Medellin and its 22 degrees to be welcomed by 35 degrees and humidity.
The discovery of the city didn’t start well with our hostel being different from the ad, in a not so quiet/safe suburb...(what we didn’t know yet is that in the next 10 days we would have the worst accommodations of our entire trip!) This probably played a role in the fact that Cartagena is definitely not our favorite city. Our big disappointment of Colombia.
It sure is beautiful with the many coloured colonial houses, the famous balcony with bougainvillea, the party scene, the many street art and street shows, its interesting history and walls that surround the city. But it’s way too touristy for us unfortunately and we didn’t expect the city to be so big.
A bit of history! Cartagena is the first Afro-Caribbean city of Central America built in the 16th century by the Spanish. It was central to the gold traffic robbed from the Aztecs and Incas and sent to Spain. later on many African slaves were brought to work there. As a consequence the French, many pirates, British and Spanish fought many times to take over the city for its ideal position and resources and the walls were built to protect it from various invasions. To make a long story short, after many years of Spanish domination, Simon Bolivar based himself in Cartagena to free Venezuela and in the meantime free Cartagena.
As a result the population is an interesting mix of Afro-Colombians, Spanish and indigenous.
During 4 days we walked many kilometres under blazing sun, got into all the churches we found, sat down on terraces and benches to watch local dances, walked on the fortified walls, had street food from Trinidad Plaza and so on.
Our top visit : exploring Getsemani that we really liked especially when the sun comes down and locals get out of their houses to enjoy the breeze, have a drink on their doorstep and play board games. The street art in this popular part of the city is vibrant. It was still a bit popular but clearly suffering from gentifrication and tourism. We particularly liked Plaza de La Trinidad and all the music shows, people dancing and singing. Some good nights !
Another highlight are the ladies wearing costumes with Colombian Colors and selling fruits! Love them and their attitude :) part of the touristic folklore!
We also visited the gold museum. I’ve been impressed by the way they can work on gold with so much details. They sure knew how to produce beautiful jewellery.
That’s it for Cartagena! A bit disappointed but the next stops will delight us again !
# taxi from centre of Medellin to airport of Medellin: 60,000 pesos flat rate
# from Cartagena airport, take a uber or taxi. Shouldn’t cost more than 10,000 to 15,000 pesos.
# best place to base yourselves is Getsemani. Walk around to get the vibe of the suburb.
# avoid Tiffany’s hostel in Torices
# we didn’t do any excursions to the beaches around as we spent 1 month at the beach between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.