20 Aug 48 Hrs in Colombia
I pride myself on being surrounded with like minded people in all aspects of my life, especially when it comes to travel so it was no surprise when my homeboy DJ AK unexpectedly hit me up one night and said he had just bough t a ticket to Cartagena and asked if I wanted to roll. He was meeting another friend over there but since we both DJ he could only go from Sunday til Tuesday. Fortunately Spirit had roundtrip tickets for $210 so after a little more coercing I copped my ticket and helped convince another friend to make the trip and BOOM. The 4 amigos were headed to cartagena.
Although we were trying to do a lot of sightseeing in a short time this trip held an advantage since 2 of the guys with us are hispanic and speak fluent spanish. As I’ve stated before, I know enough to get by but I’m still unable to fully engage the locals in a fluid conversation. Problem solved with the help of Jorge and Antonio.
The mission started hilariously enough with Jorge being held at Immigration for about 45 min. Apparently there are a lot of criminals traveling through columbia with the same name so he had to stand there while the officer looked at hundreds of pics of other people with the same name and compare faces. We were worried he was gonna get snatched up but we laughed about it later. If you go you gotta stay in Boca Grande which is the new city complete with high rises and all the 5 star hotels you can dream of. I was in charge of accommodations so I opted for a dope condo through AirBNB(they should be paying me for all these endorsements.)
Must see spots include the walled city also known as the old town. The old town is surrounded by Las Murallas, the thick walls built to protect it against enemies. Construction began towards the end of the 16th century, after the attack by Francis Drake; until that time Cartagena was almost completely unprotected. The area is full of vibrant history that makes up Cartagenas difficult past but updated with modern tourist friendly touches like shops, bars and nightclubs. This makes for an interesting place to stroll in the daytime or night as it has plenty of police presence and is well lit. I love the building architecture myself as it reminds me of the buildings in Old San Juan Puerto Rico. There are street vendors selling everything from paintings to fruit cups. Its a very inviting area.
Also make a point to hit up Castillo de San Filipe de Barajas. This is said to be the greatest fortress ever built by the spaniards in any of their colonies. it costs $18 for an unguided tour and you can journey through numerous tunnels.
Getsemani is also another interesting part of town. Its an area closer to Boca Grande with plenty of old buildings to marvel at and great graffiti to view during the day, accompanied by a vibrant nightlife to greet you after the sun falls. There are droves of local shops that are owned and patronized by locals. This is a truer representation of the local Cartagenian culture versus the the more touristy areas. That being said said you can find great deals on everything from food to local fabrics to souvenirs.
Things to look out for.
When it rain it pours. It was pouring down rain for several hours our first day and in a short time the streets were completely flooded. Even after the rain stopped we had to slosh through water on the sidewalk just to go grab a bite to eat. The sewage systems here appear to get clogged easily so don’t wear your nice shoes if you plan on going out and there’s a chance of rain.
This city has been well equipped to deal with tourist so they’ve adjusted the prices of most tours and taxi services to look similar to that here in the US, so don’t expect any superb deals in these areas. In exchange for this extra money you’ll pay there are droves of people that speak broken english and from what I saw hey all go out of their way to roll out the red carpet to visitors. I look forward to visiting again in the near future, hopefully for a longer stay.