Cartagena: 3 Things We Loved and 1 Thing We Hated

We’ve had an amazing time on this trip to Colombia, which continued in Cartagena. We also had incredible weather despite the rainy forecast. We will leave Cartagena with love in our hearts, but we had mixed reviews about the experience. Let’s start with the things we loved:

1. Perfect Condo at Bocagrande

Our place in Medellín and our place in Cartagena on this trip top our list of travel accommodations for luxury at a low price. In Cartagena, we stayed in a condo on the 7th floor at Edificio Morros City on Bocagrande.

It was perfect. Our balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows offered a phenomenal view of the pool and beach, so just staying in the room was comfortable and entertaining (ahem, people watching).

The pool was refreshing (and so was the jacuzzi) and also offered a lovely view of the beach below.

We had a designated, small half-moon stretch of beach in front of the building and plenty of restaurants in walking distance. We really had the best of the best in our condo and that contributed tremendously to our great experience in Cartagena.

2. Cooking Class with Chef Jose

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to take a cooking class with a local chef. Our experience in Chef Jose’s home and getting to know him and his family (and sweet cat) for a few hours was fantastic. We made the most amazing ceviche and paella and had great conversation. Travel is all about music, food and friendship. The more time we spend abroad, the more we realize we’re all one tribe—and this experience really added to that realization.

3. Beautiful Sites and Views

There’s no shortage of photo ops in Cartagena: colonial-style buildings, the wall around the old city, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and magnificent Caribbean sunsets. Point your camera and shoot; you’ll probably get a great photo. From our condo we had an amazing view of the historic area from about a mile and a half away. It was so lovely.

So here’s the one thing we hated: In the historic district, on the beaches, and on the streets, we couldn’t walk two steps without being hounded by people trying to sell us stuff. We’ve been to many places where this happens, and we understand that people are just trying to make a buck, but it was so in-your-face aggressive here that it was difficult to enjoy walking around. People did not take “no” for an answer. They followed us until someone else took over the sales job and mumbled smarmy insults under their breath when we didn’t bite. It totally took away from the enjoyment of Cartagena for me (LiAnn), but not for Theo. He says it’s just part of the experience. So this is one factor we disagreed on. But I say, if you want a similar and more peaceful experience to Cartagena, go to San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, you will visit a beautiful old town, similar fort and better beaches without so much hassle (and there’s mofongo). Nevertheless, we had a wonderful trip to Cartagena and are so glad we visited. The fact that our condo was so beautiful and had everything we needed really made it perfect. We love Colombia 🇨🇴 so much and are already talking about returning to visit Cali and Barranquilla.

Practical tip: Getting a taxi from the designated taxi stand at the Cartagena airport was super easy, fast and cheap. We usually hire private transport at a higher cost for safety and convenience, but that was not necessary here. Our condo was only 15 minutes from the airport, too.

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