Normally we (lately mostly me) write informative blog posts about all the places we visit. We’ve recently been to Cartagena though and I feel like there is nothing much to tell. I’ll write a short summary anyways, maybe this is going to be helpful for future digital nomads that visit the city. 😉
Why I Have Almost Nothing To Say:
After Santa Marta, we came to Cartagena for one night. We arrived late, spent the night in the hostel and left early in the morning to go to the Casa En El Agua. So no great insights from that short stop. When we came back to the city a few days later we spent one more week there and did nothing much but work. Basically to make up for our vacation in the Casa. That is why it is really hard to say anything about the city.
Negative Things First: Tourism
A bit annoying was how many salespeople were crawling through the streets. After not being bothered at all in Medellin and Santa Marta, Cartagena felt a bit like going back to Cusco. Everybody is trying to sell you something. I lost Lukas in a crowd at the port and around 30 people (not kidding) tried to sell me boat rides. Even though I was clearly desperate and searching for someone – and not a boat 😀
So my recommendation is: If you go to the old town, don’t look lost or walk too slow. You will be an easy target and moving through that city part will be difficult.
Cartagena For Digital Nomads
We stayed in a hostel in Getsemani, which was nice but the internet was utter crap. We could hardly do anything. But just around the corner, I found a nice cafe to work from. Just inside the city walls I found another one, both with solid Wifi and enough electricity plugs. So if you run into hostel-issues (which you probably will), those two places might save your ass 😉
Shopping In Cartagena
You don’t have to go far if you are looking for malls and supermarkets. In Bocagrande is a big shopping mall (called Bocagrande) where you can find a large supermarket, lots of fashion stores and a cinema. Right behind Getsemani you can find an even bigger mall called “Mall Plaza El Castillo” – also including a supermarket. Other than that there are small corner shops everywhere and they sell all the basics. Inside of the city walls, you find mostly boutiques and pretty expensive restaurants.
The Free Walking Tour
… was so underwhelming that I bailed after half an hour because I was too annoyed. I felt like I am back in school: The guide would talk for 10 minutes straight and then demand (!) us to answer very detailed questions about what he was talking about. His English was very bad to understand so most of the time I just tuned out when he was talking for so long. So I never had any answer to his questions and I feel like that is not how a walking tour should be. Really annoying.
The old town is very nice to explore. Its architecture is beautiful and there is a lot to discover. You can visit the gold museum for free, which I thought was quite the treat. We went to the fortress of Cartagena, which costs 25.000 Pesos entry. It is pretty cool, but you have to be into that kind of thing to appreciate it. You do, however, have a nice view over Cartagena.
Don’t even think about it. Cartagena is a big city and not really not focused on beach tourism. Therefore the beaches are dirty and rather ugly. Also, there will be a ton of people trying to sell you massages or jet ski rides – not what I would consider relaxing beach time. We were having a few beers in the evening and were sitting in a beach bar. A bunch of ladies rocked up to sell us massages. We told them politely that we are not interested but instead of leaving they sat down next to us and waited for a while until they asked again. And again and again. Phew…
Honestly, this is all I can tell you about Cartagena. It is not very informative but it is the best I can do 😉 If you traveled to Cartagena: How did you like it?
Also published on Medium.