There are 3 sections of Cartegena that would be relevant to the average tourist. You have Bocagrande which is more or less Miami in Colombia. You can find sandy beaches, expensive hotels, restaurants, and the best shopping in Cartagena.
Then there is Getsemani where all the hostels are located as well as some of the less expensive hotels. Around Getsemani are some of the better discotecas and cheap restaurants
Finally there is the old city which I like to call my future honeymoon destination. The old city is home to beautifully restored colonial buildings of all colors, the best restaurants, expensive boutique hotels, and tourists.
Back to the story. My Israeli buddy Mark and I were surfing the web back in Bogota after a disappointing night out in the zona rosa when we pursued our idea of flying to Cartagena. At 3Am we found a great deal with Aires airline and bought two tickets leaving midday. Arriving in sunny Cartagena was definitely welcome after a dreary few days in empty and cold Bogota.
As we exited the airport I motioned for Mark to follow me as we walked past the taxis and outside the area to the first stoplight. We flagged down three different taxis until finally finding an honest one who charged us $6,000 pesos (US$3) compared to the $15,000 pesos we would have paid a standard taxi waiting at the airport. This can be done to save money at most airports around the world. Try it.
We later took a nice long walk through the old city.
Mark from Israel in the Old City
Myself in Plaza Bolivar
One of many horse and buggies that take tourists around the old city
Fernando Botero fat woman sculpture
Sitting on the walls of the old city the Spanish built to keep out invaders
View from Cafe del Mar
View of Bocagrande
Entrance to the Old City
Inside a boutique hotel
When people hand out promotional flyers it is anything but normal
While we were sitting in the park two men came up to us and asked if Mark and I were here for the Couchsurfing meetup. We were not but since we were both members we went over with them to the other side of the park to say hello to everyone there. A few Colombians I met through Couchsurfing in February 2009 were also there so we made plans to meet up later that night.
After a few drinks with a few of them Mark and I went alone to a top notch disco, Fragma. Since it was Semana Santa (holy week) and most wealthy Colombian were vacationing in Cartagena the club was filled with by far the best looking group of people I have seen. I say this a lot but I do really mean it. Oh and then there were us 🙂
We bought a bottle and since every table was taken we stood next to another one and I accidentally stepped on a woman’s toes. She apologized profusely and held onto my hand for a good minute. A big flirt she turned out to be and awkward as we soon met her husband who shoveled shots of aguardiente our way the rest of the night. We later made it to the patio where we sat in awe watching everyone finally leave.
It was such a special place we went back the next night where we met a friendly girl Sandra who we took turns dancing with for the night. I also later heard that one celebrity in attendance that night was Colombian pop singer, Cabas.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YLWa-LTpyM[/youtube]
Following Saturday night we spent the next two days lounging around on the beach in Bocagrande with a German friend from the hostel, walking around the old city, and eating too many desserts at Crepes & Waffles. On Monday night it was time for us to move on to Medellin.