By Erin Hancock
Cartagena is a tourist’s dream and nightmare. Firstly, the colonial architecture – especially within the old walls – is spectacular and creates a wonderful atmosphere for vacation. The warm weather and plethora of activities for tourists makes it a great destination for any single’s, couple’s of family’s needs. From salsa classes to art galleries and boat trips to beautiful beaches, Cartagena is a must-see. That said, on the flip side, tourists are constantly bombarded to buy, buy, buy. And the culture around customer service is atrocious in most cases: long lines, waiting for minutes or even hours with no explanation why things are delayed, servers forgetting about you, etc. However, if you take your vacation in stride and park your first world customer-service expectations at the door, you are bound to make great memories in Cartagena.
The streets are alive day and night. There is so much foot traffic in the city, so it always feels lively.
Be sure to enjoy a meal at some of the great restaurants surrounding one of the many town squares inside the old walls. There is likely to be music and/or dance to entertain you while you chow down.
And don’t just watch dancing…do it yourself. Join in. If you aren’t yet confident in your moves and need a little edge on your salsa skills, you can attend a short class at Crazy Salsa, Salsa School. Cafe Havana is a great place to enjoy Cuban salsa music, dancing, and a yummy mojito. Get there early if you want a seat (but really, a seat is overrated when you can just dance).
Take advantage of the heat during the day and hit the beach. Playa Blanca is a short bus ride away from the city. If you really like the wind in your hair, though, take a boat ride from the downtown docks instead. You can also go to a nearby island for snorkeling. Ask your hotel or tour guide for more information.
Art abounds in this beautiful city. Be sure to check out one or many of the galleries such as NH Galeria.
They love gold in Colombia. It seems like every city has a gold museum. There’s one in Cartagena too. If you like shiny things and/or care about mining, this museum is free to visit.
Over and out (Erin @ the Russian bar, KGB Bar)