Colombia – Cartagena Part 1

Late Arrivals, Cheap Food & Historic Centre

On our flight to Cartagena Ricky and I had separate seats, this is how we met Gina & Laura! They are Colombian sisters who spoke amazing English. Ricky sat next to Gina on the plane and she told us what food we had to try and the places to see. Unfortunately they weren’t in Cartagena for long, they were off to one of the islands for a family vacation.

We arrived at Hotel Casa Rosada and it was bad. I knew it was going to be bad because we booked 3 weeks before New Years. On booking.com there were only a handful of wildly expensive options and that’s when I went onto a Spanish booking website and found the cheapest hotel… Hotel Casa Rosada. It was like something out of a horror movie, there were hookers out the front and  a cockroach ran across the room when we opened the door.

We slept in until 11ish the next day and decided to have a wander around our area (El Bosque). It was boiling hot and it looked like we were the only tourists around so Ricky recommended a lunch place and I hesitantly agreed. It was actually really good, we only paid 11,000COP each and we got soup, the special of the day (Usually meat, rice, fried banana, salad or fries) and fresh pineapple juice. We decided right there and then that Ricky was the king at picking restaurants.

After lunch we got a free ride into the city from a guy called Anderson that worked at the Hotel. We  explored the historic centre for a few hours, mainly looking at other hostels to see if we could change (we couldn’t, everything was booked).

Some hostels that looked good:

  • El Viajero Hostel (good reviews on reddit),
  • Media Luna Hostel (party hostel),
  • Getsemani Backpacker Hostel (cheaper than the others, 40000 vs 70000),
  • Friends to Be Cartagena (fancy and semi cheap, 70000)
  • Hostel Mammallena (owned by a New Zealand guy).

For dinner we ate at GBC in Getsimani. It was a decent meal, the soup looked terrible but tasted okay with lime. The meat was average but it was overall very cheap for the walled city prices. The taxi home cost us 12000COP.

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New Years Eve

We chilled in our Hotel until mid afternoon. We did some things on the blog and headed over to our favourite lunch spot, but this time we had a English speaking server. He seemed super excited to practice his English, it seemed like they don’t expect tips outside the tourist region, they were very grateful.

We arrived in the Historic Centre around 5pm. We wanted a cheap meal so we headed over to a Greek Souvlaki restaurant and had kebabs. Ricky’s was crap, he paid extra for more meat but ended up with two tiny meatballs in his kebab. I had a open kebab which was really good.

We thought we would try Arepa with cheese, it tasted terrible and looked uncooked in the middle. We later found out that you shouldn’t buy street Arepa and only eat the thin ones that aren’t oozing in the middle. We bought a bottle of Ron Abuela and a bottle of coke and drank on the main wall. The view was amazing.

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I had to pee after finishing the bottle, which was a terrible idea, we spent an hour walking through crowds and being rejected from restaurant. I eventually got let into a hotel and gave the concierge a tip. We lost our spot on the wall, so we just drank some more on the side. I needed to pee again and spotted a port-a-potty which I waited for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile Ricky bought a meat skewer and corn, he said the meat was good, corn was crap.

By that time we made our way back up the wall and got an okay spot for the fireworks, it was so cool; the place was packed. After the fireworks we walked to Getsemani and went into a club for about 30 minutes for dancing.

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When the music got bad we decided to head home, which was perfect timing because we ran into Brazilian people from our hotel so we caught a taxi home together.

The night didn’t end there… we stayed up to 5:30am watching top gear on TV.

Sleep-ins & Exploring

We woke up at 12 and by the time we were ready to head out to the beach we realised it was too late. We still went into the Historic Centre but almost everything was closed. We went to Media Luna Hostel and booked our trip to the Rosario Islands. We had dinner in Getsemani, it was pretty average, we missed our local restaurant (closed for a few days).

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