The Cartagena Colombia Travel Guide is part of the Quest Around The Globe Trip Report which covers the following places:
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Grand Cayman
- Cartagena, Colombia
- Medellin, Colombia
- Miami, Florida
- Houston, Texas
- Moscow, Russia
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Ayia Napa, Cyprus
- Amman, Jordan
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
- New York, New York
The Guns & Butter methodology:
- A trip is composed of two factors: Labor And Lazy.
- Anything on the line (Production Possibilities Frontier for my fellow economists) is an efficient use of your time depending on your tastes and preferences.
- Anything inside the line is inefficient as should be avoided.
- Anything outside is aspirational but may be impossible to do given the constraints of time and resources.
- The opportunity cost (what is given up) for relaxing and being Lazy is gained by being adventurous in the form of Labor and vice versa.
Unlike my Grand Cayman Travel Guide, the Cartagena Travel Guide is more difficult to write for two reasons: 1) There is so much to do in Cartagena 2) Both times I went to Colombia, Aguardiente played a pivotal role in derailing my plans. With that, let’s start with the most labor intensive activity: a night with aguardiente.
What is aguardiente? It is the devil’s drink. It is a local concoction similar to Middle Eastern Arak, Bali Arak, Greek Ouzo, Chinese Baijiu, Korean Soju, or Romanov Sambuca. Nothing good comes from drinking this magical potion. Like the other drinks on the list, aguardiente costs next to nothing to buy. The price is paid the day after.
My first run in with aguar was when I visited Cartagena for the New Years celebration in December of 2010. After a night out, my idiot friend, under the influence of aguardiente, thought it best to cut our celebration in Colombia short and head to Bocas del Toro, Panama the 29th day of December. According to the time stamp of this photo, that decision was made at 6:30AM. Long story short, we took a flight on the sunniest day from Cartagena to Panama City, followed by a ten hour hell bus to the port in Bocas, then a boat to the archipelago, only to find disgusting hostels and rainy weather. The next day we took the first flight out of there and spent an unmemorable NYE in Panama City, Panama.
The second run in with aguar was in Medellin in September 2016. I’ll save that joyous occasion in my brief report on that city.
Labor: Arepas Pues
Colombia is where diets are made to be ruined. While Cartagena has upscale, delicious local cuisine, the best treat is an arepa. And the best place to get an arepa is at Arepas Pues, reviewed here.
Labor: Castillo San Felipe
Take a break from partying and visit Castillo San Felipe. Built by the Spaniards in 1536, this fortress has great views of the city and makes for a pleasant day trip.
Labor to Lazy: Islas del Rosario
Islas del Rosario is where the who’s who of Colombia go for a vacation retreat. Located 62 miles off the coast of Cartagena, the islands have pristine white sand beaches that rival those in French Polynesia. It is a trek to get there by boat but once you arrive, you will regret not staying for the night.
Warning: If you take a day tour to Islas del Rosario, they’ll have you stop off for snorkeling. It was cloudy the day I went so the colorful fish were not as impressive as they could have been had there been sun. I recommend skipping the snorkeling for more time on the islands.
Lazy: Old Town
Old Town Cartagena is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s very easy to get lost in the streets for hours. It’s also a great place to go for dinner and for drinks. I highly recommend Cafe Del Mar for cocktails.
Drinks + waiter + beach + music = perfect day. Tell the taxi driver ‘chiringuito’ and prepare to do nothing. Alternatively, you could just relax poolside at the Radisson Cartagena.
Due to aguar, I lost my phone in Medellin and as a result do not have the usual number of pics to show what can be done in Cartagena. Many of the photos were from my first trip to Colombia in 2010.