The fact that I get chills even when revisiting Colombia mentally is hopefully an indicator of my incredible experience. After boarding an airplane in Miami, several hours later I was in line getting my first passport stamp from South America. I really had no idea what to expect and tried to disregard what the media feeds the American people about the “violent state” of Colombia (Pablo Escobar, anyone?). I wanted to be open to the experiences the people of Cartagena had to share. By the end of the trip, I couldn’t even imagine someone feeling unsafe traveling throughout Cartagena.
Cartagena is on the coast of Colombia and is the most visited tourist city in the country – and I completely understand why. The city is divided into a few main areas; City Center, Getsemani, and San Diego are the ones I had a chance to explore, and the neighborhood of Getsemani piqued my interest, especially. Walking through alleyways of buildings covered in vivid shades of yellow, blue and red, while fruit and arepa vendors are on virtually every other corner, it’s hard not to get lost in this visual orgasm. All the fruit is amazing, but if you’re not as adventurous in getting a fruit mix, I suggest you don’t skip out on the sweetest pineapple; they are delicous! Getsemani, being the “art center” of the city, has incredible murals and street art, and many of the artists can be found within close proximity to the pieces you’re discovering.
The people of Cartagena are incredibly giving and love to share their culture and rich history. A wonderful beginning to exploring Cartagena is as you make your way out of Getsemani and get closer to the walled colonial city (split between the Center and San Diego), you’ll find yourself surrounded by flower-covered houses and a beautiful mixture of people walking through the vibrantly colored street. As the city is on the coast, there’s no way you can pass up eating fresh seafood, and one of the amazing array of restaurants within the city and on the actual wall surrounding the city. I’m with you if you’re the type to avoid “touristy” venues, but I can’t emphasize enough about the wonderful experience of spending one evening on the wall getting a coconut drink at Café Del Mar. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful people, a soft sea breeze, all while overlooking the city – not to mention amazing drinks to prep you for whatever nightlife you might find while wandering through this incredible romantic city.