An excellent tour guide
Favorite thing: As we only had some hours time during our stop at Cartagena we decided to do a guided tour and we were lucky to meet taxi-driver and well informed guide Clarence Bailey.
This guy showed us around his city. He said he never left it in his entire life. So he knows the place very well. As his father was a British citizen his English is pretty well. We were very satisfied with his service.
If you want to contact him for a tour, here is his phone number:
a truly deserving UNESCO World Heritage Site
Favorite thing: Cartagena is one of the greatest and well-preserved colonial towns in not only South America but the world. It's no wonder the whole walled city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some might argue its restoration has left it bordering on Disney World but there are still sections where the grime of the past seep through and one cannot argue with some paint when it is so tastefully done. The combination of colors is positively stunning and fits in well with the tropical climate and local people. Few places fit their inhabitants as well as Cartagena. While its churches and monasteries dominate most people's most see lists, there are many fine buildings that easily can escape your notice if you do not take the time to simply walk its charming streets, seeking out your own treasures. One building you are not likely to miss on the town's pretty skyline is what is now the University of Cartagena. Once an old cloister, the school's tower now dominates many of your finest views in a town noted for them.
- Historical Travel
one fruit eating giant iguana, please
Fondest memory: Colombia had surprisingly proved itself as a great place for capturing photos of birds. Since our last trip to South America was to Ecuador which included excursions to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon, I was pretty confidant that Colombia would pale in comparison on that front. That said, I already had some of my best photos of birds I'd ever taken and I hadn't even come close to the tropical areas I might have expected them to come from. The coast was upon us but the first few days were going to be spent in the big city of Cartagena so I wasn't really thinking along the lines of wildlife photography as I marched into town to capture the town's noted colonial architecture. We noticed a park along the main thoroughfare into the old town from the less glitzy and somewhat run-down Getsemani area we were staying in, and decided to walk in there was it looked more pleasant. Once inside, it was obvious it more the haunt of derelicts than the pleasant city park we had hoped for so we walked along the edge close to the street we had just come from, making a beeline for the exit on the other side. There were no birds in sight but in the distance I noticed something very large walking along the path in front of us. As we neared it we saw a huge iguana feeding on a chunk of fruit thrown over the fence from one of the fruit juice stand girls that line the adjacent road. We are no strangers to large iguanas as we live in South Florida and there is a sizable population of them in our town even though they are not native to the area. Pets that have escaped over the years have not managed to propagate quite well in a climate that obviously suits them. So, we were not taken aback as much as say a person from the UK might be but it was still a sight to behold and gave me my first non-bird wildlife shots in Colombia aside from a few stray wild horses in El Cocuy National park nearly a month earlier.
- Budget Travel
- Adventure Travel
Favorite thing: Colonial architecture and balconies go hand in hand. They are one of the most favorite sights of those who love such cities and evoke romantic notions of the past like few others. Colombia is heaven for balcony-aficionados and Cartagena in particular has a plethora of beautiful ones. With the town's warm sunny climate it should come as no surprise that they are generally found positively overrun with flowers, bougainvilleas a decided favorite.
We had just come through the heart of colonial Colombia, with Mompos, Barrichara, and Villa de Leyva at our rear so if anything we were a bid jaded on balconies on arrival but Cartagena showed with little effort why it is called the colonial jewel of South America.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Favorite thing: One could get lost for days exploring the colonial jewel that is Cartagena and one of the most intriguing of the fine details are the assorted door knockers that ornately decorate the already impressive doors to many a elegant old building.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
time demands & feeling cooler
Favorite thing: Cartagena is full of colonial architectural marvels. In fact, the whole walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but there are some somewhat seedier parts of town that while not truly my favorite let me glimpse a bit into the town's storied past when perhaps it was not so squeaky clean. It was a fun place to wander around during the day but maybe not so great at night. It was close to our hotel and was certainly a good place to get a hair cut.
Fondest memory: Since we had spent most of the first month of our trip to Colombia in its considerable high altitude mountains, I hadn't really noticed that my hair had grown as of course it always does. I generally get it cut every two weeks but when it's cold at night, every bit of extra insulation helps. The last few days had been spent in sweltering Mompos and I knew I needed a trim and started to look for one as soon as I got to Cartagena. I prefer to get it cut in smaller towns as it's usually cheaper and easier to do but there was no small town on our immediate horizon and Cartagena was proving every bit as hot as Mompos, if less humid. Of course, one of the obstacles is trying to muster up what Spanish I have to get it cut to the right length as Hispanics tend to wear their hair a bit shorter than perhaps I'd like mine to be. I saw one large place on a street close to our hotel but it was packed every time I walked by it. This is typically a sign of it being very good or at least cheap so I walked by a few times over the course of the day and had nearly given up when one of the barbers from the shop called me in, from across the street no less. It seemed this was one gringo that would not have to wait despite there still being a considerable line. I was so happy I neglected to ask how much it would be, one of the few key phrases I know in a few languages and sat in the chair amongst the locals getting clipped. The barber was excellent, something I've found to generally be the case in South America. He took considerable time in getting it just right and I figured it was not going to be the cheapest haircut of my SA travel career so I didn't flinch when he said it was 10000 COP ($5). I imagine it might have been more than the locals had to pay if my past experiences were any measure. But I didn't have to wait and this was Cartagena, a town that demanded my time more than the extra couple bucks as well as a haircut to keep me cool, and now looking much cooler too.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: The most colourful figures in the city are the beautifully dressed Palenqueras. It's amazing how they can balance their big fruit baskets on their head and stroll up and down as if it is easy. Their load is very heavy- I tried it- and they are usually sweating in the hot sun. You can find them on the beach or in the streets of the Old City especially in Bolivar Square. They earn some extra money for their patience from the photos the tourists take with them. Unfortunately many tourists try to “steal” a photo without paying the insignificant half dollar to the poor women.
Palenqueras are black women that had come from Palenque, Colombia of course and have become a symbol of the city over the years. The fruits they are carrying are usually tropical such as bananas, mangoes, papayas, passion fruits, guavas, pineapples and a lot more of the succulent Colombian fruits.
They make delicious juices or wonderful salads in seconds using their knife very skillfully.
- Family Travel
Gabriel García Márquez's Enchanting Home Town
Favorite thing: The city of Cartagena also has an important place in world literature. Although the location is not specifically mentioned in the book (it was replaced by a ‘Caribbean port town’), there is no doubt that Gabriel García Márquez, the famous Colombian author who spent his childhood in Cartagena, set his novel Love in the Time of Cholera in Cartagena. He certainly intended the story to be set here, it’s just that he was a way of taking real people and places and twisting them. Cartagena is a passionate Caribbean city and the perfect backdrop for Gabo’s allegorical love story tracing Florentino Ariza’s obsessive love for Fermina Daza.
To get an even better look, his most famous book was also made into a film in 2007, directed by Mike Newell and starring the always attractive Benjamin Bratt and Javier Bardem. So whether you read it or watch it, get ready for an interesting narrative that intertwines the city’s ‘steamy and sleepy streets’.
For those who admire Márquez, Cartagena is the start of an emerging literary trail around Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast. At Aracataca, where he was born, a small museum dedicated o the writer is being completed.
- Arts and Culture
Colombia es Pasión
Favorite thing: The Colombia es Pasión (Colombia is Passion) campaign was launched in 2005 to promote the country and a positive image of Colombia abroad, encourage business investment, tourism and increase cultural relations with nations around the world. The logo of the campaign is a heart, which symbolizes the passion of the Colombian people. The campaign celebrated its 5th anniversary in Cartagena, a city of ideas and dreams, making people discover the new face of Colombia. They set an exhibition with the motto Descubre Colombia a través de su corazón (Discover Colombia Through Its Heart). On Plaza de la Proclamación they placed seven 4-meter interactive hearts. 40 smaller hearts, located on the busy plazas of the old city, were used as mobile billboards containing moving commentaries from international personalities, headlines from different media and famous quotes referrint to the concept of 'nation', as well as invitations to visit the main hearts. All of the heart sculptures for the exhibition were created by a creative team of Colombian professionals.
Fondest memory: The interactive hearts represented different features of Colombia, from its diverse culture and landscape to its native artists, including world-renowned artist Fernando Botero, Grammy Award-winning musician Shakira and Noberl Prize-winning writer Gabriel García Márquez. For example, the Music Heart had audio stations playing samples of diverse Colombian rhythms; the Culture Heart screened videos of the country's most important festivals, fairs and celebrations; the Cities Heart was covered in leaves and 40 tiny windows through which photos of architectural and urban progress could be seen and the Tranquility Heart was a structure that generated an optical effect and contained testimonials from 82 visitors to Colombia who shared their experiences. Besides the hearts, there were musical and cultural performances and other educational programs.
- Arts and Culture
getting lost through the center
Favorite thing: The historical centre, its colours, its colonial building, its corners. It was really hard to walk around day by day not having the sensation to be seing something new even if you were going on the same street.
tips about Cartagena
Favorite thing: -Cartagena , officially Caratgena De Indias, city in the northern Colombia, capital of Bolivar Departament, a seaport on the caribean sea. The city is on an island formed by a shallow extension of the harbor, one of the best in northern South America. Cartagena is connected by a causeway with the mainland. the older part of the city contains two old forts and is surrounded by a wall 12 m (40 ft) thick in places, costructed in spanish colonial times.
-The principal exports are oil and petroleum products and coffee. Other exports include tobacco, and cattle products, fine woods, and precious stones. chocolate and candles are among the products manufacture here.
-a lot of celebrities have married in the romantic city of Cartagena, like Juan Pablo Montoya the F1 pilot. Is a good place for the honey moon, or even better for the marriage Cartagena is one of the most romantic places of the world.
- All the year you can find a good weather in Cartagena with temperatures between 23 C to 25 C, in summer the temperature raise to 31 C. And there are a few days of presipitation during the year, for this reason Cartagena is a very good place to visit.
Fondest memory: our personal opinion of cartagena is that is a good place for parties at night, you could find a lot of places with all kind of music and all kind of people and in the beach also you can find a good ambiance for stay with your friends drinking and see women or men depend your sex.
Favorite thing: Old Cartagena, street looks a bit like Miami... a multitude of skyscrapers, traffic and bar/restaurant open all day and night with music. I found it loud, brash and uninteresting... maybe a good place to party and shop, but this is not my idea of having a good time. Unlike Miami, the sea is really ugly, though.
Fondest memory: The best memory I have of new Cartagena, where admittedly i spend only a few boring hours, is the view over it that you can have from the Convent of la Popa... from such a distance, away from the hustle and bustle, it does not look quite so hirrible - just modern.
Houses, Doors, History and Nature
Favorite thing: Favorite Thing:
From the clock tower until museum of arms in the walled city, Cartagena fascinates in each one of its streets by its churches, hotels, doors and each details that make of Cartagena one unique site in the world.
Fondest memory: Walking at night by santodomingo place and to croos the city in a cart
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Favorite thing: La Manga is an area of Cartagena that I liked very much. It's located on an island connected to the getsemani area via a bridge and it is outside the old city walls. It dates back to the beginning of the 20th century... it's neither old nor too modern, life.size i would say, and there's not too much traffic except at rush hours.
Fondest memory: La Manga ia an architectural delight... any houses there are very beautiful and some of them really first class. Quite a few houses are built in an unexpected Moorish or arab style, possibly reflecting the homelands of the people who had built them. I spent a happy hot afternoon searching for them.
Get out and walk around...
Favorite thing: Get out and walk around Cartagena! The old city is a real gem of colonial architecture, with brightly painted buildings and beautiful churches and streets. Don't worry about walking around all day by yourself--we had no safety problems whatsoever.