More Cartagena, Colombia

I was so excited to see Cartagena. It looked gorgeous from the water, and I had read a bit about the city and the interesting historic section which was supposed to be an easy distance from the port.

What a disappointment! Well, not Colombia, or Cartagena, but our experience with the little bit of it that we were able to see. We got off the ship and wound our way through a very interesting park sort of place with flamingos and other birds.

When we emerged into the taxi stand, we were instantly overwhelmed with taxi drivers trying to convince us to ride with them.

We settled on a taxi driver who agreed to take us to the historic section for $5/each, so we and our friends set out. Before the car doors were hardly open at our destination we were accosted by a man selling hats, and another selling sunglasses, and then more selling beer, drinks, cheap jewelry, and so on. This was pretty much how the whole morning went. Unless we were a bit off the beaten path on a side street, we were constantly approached by aggressive people selling things. The area was beautiful but it was very hard to enjoy it. It’s too bad that the museums were all closed too, and even the church was closing its doors as we were leaving. But, I still did manage to get some photos!

The best part of our time was the taxi ride back to the ship. I think the driver sensed our frustration and wanted to show us a little of the city, so he took us on less than a direct route so we could get a sense of what the area was like. Everything was very clean and mostly white, and very attractive. He recommended that we come back again in a plane and stay in a hotel so we could get a better idea of what it is really like in Colombia.

I would love to explore more of Colombia. When you are on a ship full of tourists though, you’re like prey so it’s a whole different scene than an individual walking around the city. We were all so discouraged we just went back to the ship for the last few hours we had at this port. Now I was also apprehensive about our next ports. Were we going to face more of the same everywhere we stopped? (thankfully we didn’t, and we had a good time at the next places)

 

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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23 Responses to More Cartagena, Colombia

  1. indacampo says:

    I’ve had friends visit Cartagena (by plane) and they’ve said it was absolutely worth the trip. Perhaps it’s not always a good idea to dock at the mostly Catholic city during Palm Sunday. Our town also was deserted yesterday. 🙂

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    • indacampo says:

      Ooops forgot this would have been last Sunday!

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      • Probably any Sunday morning will be pretty quiet. We heard later that if you go back in the afternoon things would be open.
        It was Palm Sunday here yesterday too, and I saw lots of people with palm fronds in their hands and wearing red. Do they wear red in your area too? That’s a custom I’m not familiar with.

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        • indacampo says:

          I didn’t get out in the morning to see anything and when we were out on our bikes in the afternoon we saw maybe two people. We figured that there must have been a lottery draw on when we were out and everybody was gathered around the t.v. LOL!

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  2. Karen Ama Panama says:

    Wow what an interesting and pretty city. I had no idea Cartegena was so huge!

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  3. Robert & Helen says:

    Hi Kris. On our island the same thing when cruise passengers arrive. Best is to make an arrangement with a taxi driver.

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    • When you’re in a new place and don’t know anyone though, it can be hard to figure out the best way to proceed. We were told everything from $5 to $25 to go into town.

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  4. tombseekers says:

    I think the blame lies with Royal Caribbean who docked the entire season in Cartagena on Sundays. It had to be frustrating for the Catholic city to see all those tourist dollars go away. Good for them that their faith overpowered greed.

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  5. Carlos says:

    I’m from Cartagena. Sunday at that hour is not the best time to visit. After 4 or 5 in the afternoon it’s a better time. The “walled city” as we called it, is an UNESCO World Heritage place.

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    • Yes, we figure that was the case but unfortunately we were confined by the ship’s schedule. If I had known more though I would have hired a taxi to give us a tour of the city, and then visited the historical area a little later in the day. But, I’m glad we got to see what we did and hopefully we can make it back soon to explore more on our own. It looks like a very interesting and beautiful city.

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  6. Laurie says:

    I love how they paint their buildings those bright cheery colors.

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  7. emma says:

    how frustrating and sad! i was in love with cartagena. definitely go back. i stayed in a more local and less touristy part of the old city for four nights… or five? back in january – and it was amazing. i’ll blog it eventually…. haha. the sales guys were aggressive, yes, but after a day or so they remembered me and stopped trying so hard. did your cruise make you wear a sticker when you disembarked? those make you a target as well!

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    • It was, but I saw enough to make me want to go back so hopefully we will in the next year or two. No, no stickers but it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on when 2000 people land in your town and wander around with cameras.

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  8. John and Susan Pazera says:

    We had a chance to sail to Cartagena after we went through the Canal, but spent more time in the San Blas instead. Thanks for the pics – it really makes us want to go now! And I think you’re probably right – if you go on your own and not as part of a cruise ship crowd, you’ll probably get less attention from the salesfolk.

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    • From the little I saw, it’s a really beautiful city. The historical part is interesting but there is so much more to it than that. You can see the extensive skyline in my photos. I would definitely like to go back, and I want to see other parts of the country too.

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  9. Oh, I’m so sad that you didn’t get to see Cartagena properly…it’s such a beautiful city!! And you are right about traveling there independently – we were hardly bothered at all! If you do get a chance to make it back to Colombia, I agree with your taxi driver. We spent 3 weeks traveling all through it during our RTW and It’s a fantastic country with wonderful people – one of our top 5 countries for sure. 🙂

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    • I think on a cruise you only get a taste of the places you visit. I definitely want to go back and see more! Thanks for the encouragement, and for visiting my blog 🙂

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  10. Richard says:

    Hi! I had the opportunity to live in Cartagena for 2.5 months after a stint in Bogota over a year ago. I learned many of the secrets of that old city. It holds the oldest history for Colombia (yes, please correct the spelling from Columbia) as is evidenced in the central museum in Bogota. When you have the chance to return, you will unearth many more cultural secrets that are well worth a return visit!

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    • Oh yes, I know there is a lot more to discover about this city! I really hope to go back.
      Oh sheesh, thanks for pointing out the spelling. I spent my whole childhood at Columbia School so it probably came out without thinking.

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