A Port Day in Cartagena


Article first published as A Port Day in Cartagena on Technorati.

Seeing Hard Rock Cartagena told me that Cartagena, Colombia is now a Cruise Ship port town. After seven years working as assistant cruise director on-board cruise ships, I thought I had been to every port town in the Caribbean.

But now, new interesting cities are on the itineraries. If Cartagena is on your next sailing, you will love it! I know I did! This UNESCO world heritage site includes amazing locations and I hope you get to see them all.

old cityMy favorite is El Centro, the Old town with one lane roads full of horse drawn carriages and men with carts selling fruit. Don’t worry; they all wear plastic food service gloves to cut the fruit and sell it for less than $1 for a cup of refreshing juicy mango or watermelon. It is fantastic stroll the stone streets and listen to the sexy salsa music. There are open air cafes in many of the plazas.
I loved the gorgeous and brightly painted houses with balconies covered with Bougainvillea. Just wander and explore the streets. During New Year’s Eve Celebrations, the verandas and all the squares were filled with live bands, music and people.

We saw seven Royal Caribbean Cruise ship buses at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. This fort, built by the Spanish in 1657, was to protect the gold and treasures after five sieges by pirates including one in 1586 by Sir Francis Drake.
The fort is a marvel of tunnels and engineering. You can visit the Palace of the Inquisition where people were tortured for being accused of crimes against their religion. I skipped it.

I did unfortunately take the tour to Playa Blanca and Islas del Rosario which I do not recommend. I did not find it beautiful or relaxing; way too many hawkers and far too little beach. Sadly for friends of ours, thshipey spent the night at Playa Blanca and were attacked by sand fleas. The only nice part of the day was seeing the Constellation leave port which made for great sunset photos!

I can highly recommend two restaurants in Getsemani. We ate twice at Cafe Lunatico whose menu states: “Todo hecho con amor y locura” or all is made with crazy love! The food is excellent and the staff are helpful. Across the street, but still on Calle de la Media Luna you can eat at Luna Nueva with a complete breakfast for only 7000 pesos (about $3.50) near the hip and happening hostel, Media Luna.

If you want to relax in Getsemani, check out the brand new Casa Canabal, a hotel boutique in Cartagena de Indias.  The spa on the upper deck overlooks the city with a bar and bright yellow flowers, a wonderful spot to reflect on the city.

mulataOur favorite lunch spot in the Old Town is La Mulata, with daily specials and grilled meats every day; it is always full but only open for lunch. Both times we were here, the food was great and the group very international.
I also recommend seeing the Cartagena de Indias  Small Luxury Hotel. Our tour included the upstairs pool near sunset and the view is the first photo at the top! Enjoy the beauty of Cartagena!

Authors Note: Our two weeks in Colombia were incredible! We will write several posts over the next month about all the amazing sites, towns and travels we had! Put Colombia on the TOP of your travel list!

Check out my review posted to the b-townblog for Seattle: click here

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

13 responses to “A Port Day in Cartagena

  1. From JP:
    "Another beautiful entry. I can understand why you have such a following. Count me in as a fan of your travelblog."

    Thanks so much! We appreciate your support!
    Lisa and George

  2. From Down Under:

    "Hi Lisa and George:

    Glad to hear the trip was great as I knew it would be. Can't wait to read about your other adventures.

    Happy New Years"

    Thanks and Happy New Year to you also!
    L & G

  3. From KH
    "Hi guys,

    You better not be enjoying yourselves in Colombia. It's not allowed to fall in love with such an incredibly beautiful country and its amazing people.

    So Lisa's review has finally made the big time in Seattle:


    It's right inside when you click on the link to the book. And her bio made it intact, too! Thanks one more time, Lisa, for the wonderful perspective you had on my book.

    Hope you have a chance to visit San Augustin along the Rio Magdelena – you probably saw the piece about it on my web site.

    Have a great end to 2010 and let's all boogie in 2011!


  4. From FZ who shared so much info with us before we left:
    "Wow, you did it!!!! I'm so excited for you and that some of the love that saturates me sank into you during your two week stay in querida Cartagena.

    I have a few photos, and you probably have dozens, of the buildings. Maybe I'll send you a few from my 2008 trip, just in case they might be useful to you. You don't need to give me credit and can use them as your own.

    I'm looking forward to receiving your info. Congratulations upon picking the perfect spot for your anniversary.
    Best wishes, FZ"

  5. From M & N
    "Love reading about your adventures. Happy 1st anniversary and a happy, healthy New Year."

    Thanks so much for reading and for writing! We love to hear from you!
    Lisa and George

  6. Hi Lisa and George! You dont know how happy I am that you enjoyed my country, I loved your post!. Thank you thank you thank you for helping us Colombians in our efforts to show Colombia as it really is so we can little by lettle erase the bad image we had in the past!

    Abrazos, and if you ever come back you have to pay me a visit!



  7. Hello our lovely friends,

    We are so glad to know that you really enjoyed visiting Cartagena and Santa Marta.

    Your written about Colombia makes us feel proud of our country, because the only risk that foreign people have is staying here to live.

    We are looking forward to reading the next Post about your trip to La Guajira.

    Cris & German

  8. Hey you two! Great article I will head to the caribbean by myself very soon with some of my friends from Germany and we will go to Cartagena, too! Thanks for the insights regarding rosario island we had some negative feedback as well, lets see.

    About locations to go I heard especially for cake lovers that Mila is the best place to. Everyone in the office go crazy about.. 😉

    Hope to hear more from you very soon. Take care!

  9. Hour blog was very interesting .In general tour is an exciting thing, Industrial tour is a gracious one to carry on. There are two benifits in these types of tours, one to visit the new place another is to complete our job; with complete fun, joy, ect…

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