Lonely Planet describes Cartagena as a place where you can easily spend hours wandering the cobblestone streets taking in the colonial architecture and sipping on coffees in open air restaurants. This must have happened to me, because after spending a week there, there isn’t anything spectacular or touristy that I did there. Sure, I took a walking tour for a few hours one afternoon (of which I recall zero useful facts, sorry you’ll have to get your Cartagena history from somewhere else). I spent a day at the beach. I had a lot of delicious food. But seven days there. Hm.
Now, I will admit that I enrolled in Spanish classes there that had come highly recommended from a woman that I’d met in Tayrona. So from 9am-12:30 everyday I was in class. It was nice to have an intellectual challenge and a bit of structure to my schedule. I got pretty gung-ho about it and decided the next book I’d read would be in Spanish. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the most famous Colombian author (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera) and so I picked a collection of his short stories. I figured it’d help improve my vocabulary and the more I could immerse myself the better. After an hour and a half and only three pages, I realized fully what I’d gotten myself into and returned to the bookstore for something a bit easier…
To me, Cartagena felt nothing like the rest of Colombia. It was weird to feel like I was back in the States and surprising to see how easily I fell back into my Austin routine of jogging, shopping, reading, drinking nice cocktails, and eating at good restaurants. I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the things I loved about Colombia is how cheap everything was; Cartagena is the exception to this rule. It’s still cheaper than back home, but I did go through a bit of sticker shock after over a month of traveling around Colombia. It was also a bit of an adjustment to get used to how many tourists there were, and not just the backpackers that I had become accustomed to but families, golfers, and retirees. It’s easy to see why though, with such beautiful buildings, great weather, and delicious food. As mentioned…I’m not sure what I actually did there besides get lost in the side streets, so here are some more pictures of buildings:
Cartagena is a beautiful, lovely city to visit. After 5 weeks in Colombia my time in this beautiful country was coming to a close and I said goodbye as I boarded a plane to Cusco to enjoy more trekking and Machu Picchu. Stay tuned!