“No, gracias!” – This seemed to be the major theme during our day in Cartagena. We were approached by many people to buy something or other, to take their taxi, or take their tour, or come into their bar/restaurant/coffee shop. But, the good thing is, they didn’t harangue us or follow us around. Once we said, “No, thank you,” they walked away.
Cartagena was the first of Spain’s conquered cities in the Americas, and its location on the Caribbean was crucial for trade. From Cartagena, the conquistadors were able to ship the plunder from other locations back to Spain, as well as bring African slaves to the New World. In order to defend the city from pirates, they built a large fortress (San Felipe de Barajas) along the Caribbean, today Cartagena’s most prominent feature.
A walk around Barrio Getsemani was a must. It was formerly an area rife with drugs and prostitution, but has risen from the ashes like a phoenix to become one of the hippest districts in all of South America. It is friendly, colorful, and filled with funky little streets, cafes, bars, restaurants, art vendors, and laid-back locals. No soliciting us, no hard sells…everyone sits around and waits for you to come to them. There are lots of photos of Getsemani at the beginning of our photos to illustrate the variety of decorations and activities.
The Historic Center, or Old Town, was utterly charming. Narrow streets held every sort of business there is, and people crowded onto each and every street. There was lots and lots of street art, lots of churches, squares, statues, covered sidewalks….every sort of charming city feature was found here in spades. Just lovely. After our experience in Guatemala City, tied to a tour guide all day, we were very happy to be out on our own, free to head down any street we wanted that looked interesting or fun…mostly the fun ones.
Prices here were very, very cheap. Most cocktails go for $2-3. Our Uber rides, both directions, from the port to the Old Town (they took 20-30 minutes in very congested conditions) cost $2.50 (though we felt bad about getting it so cheap, when it saved us from having to deal with cab drivers, so we tipped substantially). Cups of Colombian coffee in the cafes went for about $2.
🔹🔹 If you enjoyed reading our post, you can subscribe to our website to automatically receive every blog we publish. Just go to our “Contact” tab. In the gray box at the very bottom, it says – SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL.Just put in your email address, and we will appear in your Inbox! Also, right above it, there is a small form to send us a message, if you wish. (But please note, you cannot hit “Reply” on the post emailed to you to send us a message. You must use the Contact tab.)