Cartagena and Vicinity

Old Dec 17th, 1999, 10:45 AM
  #1  
Howard Brayer
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Cartagena and Vicinity

Hello - I am planning to visit the Cartagena area for about 8 days in late February of 2000. I plan to spend about 4 or 5 days in the city, one or two days on the nearby Rosario Islands, and perhaps 3 days travelling in Mompos. Does anyone have any tips on this trip? I have read the guidebooks and visited the internet sites regarding this area, so I know the basics. Is Mompos woth the effort to get there? Are the beaches in Cartagena itself ok for swimming? Any little insights will be appreciated.

Howard
 
Old Dec 18th, 1999, 04:00 AM
  #2  
JoAnn
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Howard, we were in Cartegena in July '94 for a week end on the beach (my husband was a volunteer consultant in Barranquilla). I was not too impressed by the water--it is not what we normally see in the Caribbean, blue. But people were swimming and there were a lot of people on the beach. We were too busy sight seeing.

We took a bus tour of the city (one of those OLD open, rickety buses, all decorated up-but fun & funky) with an English speaking guide. We went up to the Monastery, and through the 'Old City' on a walking tour. The next day we went down and explored the 'old city' on our own, and the area where the hotels and shops are in the beach area. Stop in a jewelry store and look at their gold and emeralds! I got some small earrings for a very reasonable price and was amazed at what they were valued at here. The prices were better in the beach area than the old city. They will bargain & love USD, but we didn't carry much cash around at all.

Beware in the old city. There are people who offer to "help you find" places and then take you to the most expensive. We got caught by one, told him we wanted a nice restaurant and he took us out of the old city to one, and for one fish dinner and a sandwich we were charged $40! We did complain and they came down. Or they'll take you to a shop, and hope you'll buy something inside. But the city is fascinating and lovely. Sorry I can't help with any of the other areas.
 
Old Dec 27th, 1999, 08:40 PM
  #3  
elliott
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i was in cartegena labor day. old city is beautiful- very historical. hilton and caribe are the 2 nicest hotels.

beaches are not that nice. there is an all day boat trip to islands offshore, playa blanca and 2 others. beach is beautiful in playa blaca but you cannot enjoy it . the vendors will not leave you alone. you have to stay in the water to keep them away.

i would not go to cartegena for the beaches.

i cannot help you with the oher locations
 
Old Dec 29th, 1999, 07:53 AM
  #4  
Parrot Mom
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Caribe and Hilton in the old walled city of Cartegena...There goes the neighborhood!!!!! Stopping back in Cartegena in April on a cruise does anybody know of little spot in the old city to have lunch behind all those wonderful walls and wooden doors.. Forgot the place we ate before...a local shop owner told us 20 years ago and had the most delightful evening..
The fort is a fun place as are the dungeons for shopping, but go before or when the ships aren't in port.
 
Old Jan 3rd, 2000, 04:51 PM
  #5  
elliott
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sorry if i misled you. the caribe & hilton are not in the old city. they are in the opposite end of the peninsula, boca grande area.

i recommend a tour guide named carlos gonzales. his company is called excursions charles.

he took me and a ladyfriend on a half-day private tour of the old city. he speaks good english.his phone # is 667-4850

the chiva{open air bus} tours do not leave until 2pm. it is brutally hot at that time.
 
Old Jan 5th, 2000, 05:48 PM
  #6  
Parrot Mom
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Yes, I remember Boca Chica well!! We had some pleasant experiences there.... We will be stopping on a cruise ship for just half a day...I will try to call him when I get off the ship.... The last time we almost got arrested for "breaking an antiquity"...fortunately the driver smoothed things out...it was a scam...
 
Old Jan 6th, 2000, 08:22 PM
  #7  
Vanessa
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I've been to Cartagena several times -- the last time in March 1998.

The old walled city of Cartagena is wonderful. If you get a chance, be sure to visit on a Sunday morning when the streets are pretty much empty. During the work week, it's wall to wall people.

The beaches in Cartagena are okay for swimming but not the clear blue water that you'd expect. That you'll find when you visit the Rosario Islands.

If you like snorkling, look up Bill Moore at the Caribe Hotel. He's an American who takes groups out snorkling.

All the usual cautions: If you're going to do any shopping, be sure to do it when the cruise ships aren't in port. Don't buy jewellry, coral, perfume or suntan lotion on the beach. Don't change money on the street.
 
Old Jan 7th, 2000, 04:34 PM
  #8  
Parrot Mom
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You killjoy....the first time we went to Cartegena it was for a week..the last time was on a cruise ship....this time will be on a cruise ship... We aren't all that bad you know.. I agree there are some ugly americans...but we love the city... Tell me about a spot in the old city to eat..what Calle and #
 
Old Jan 7th, 2000, 05:15 PM
  #9  
Vanessa
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I wasn't trying to say to avoid Americans when I said to not shop when the cruise ships are in port. It's that the shops are more likely to drop their prices more when there aren't any cruise ships in port. They know the cruise passengers only have a limited amount of time to barter. If you're there for a week, you've got more time to shop around.
 
Old Jan 12th, 2000, 11:46 AM
  #10  
Howard
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Thanks for all of you for joining in this discussion - I was surprised that there would be this much activity re: Cartagena. I had already read that the beaches in Cartagena were not so nice...hence my plans for a trip to the Islas Rosarios. I hope to stay in a hotel on one of the islands called Hotel San Pedro de Majagua. I couldn't find much info. on the place, so I will see what its like after I get there. I was dissappointed that no one mentioned Mompos - at this point I am not sure if I am going there - it seems the journey may be dangerous, so I may draw the line at Cartagena and around. Any opinions out there on safety re: the Mompos trip?? I read about an airport in Mompos, perhaps a better (safer) way to get there thna the bus, but can't find an airline that flies there. I've called SAM and Avianca..who came up with blanks? Any suggestions?

Thanx
 
Old Mar 1st, 2000, 07:13 AM
  #11  
Howard Brayer
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I just returned from Cartagena and thought I'd add to the material here. Cartagena was well worth the trip. My friend and I who I went with gave it 4 and a half out of five stars on our pwn personal rating scale.

The old city is very, very nice, and compares favorably to other Spanish colonial cities I have been to in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Peru. The people were very friendly, the weather was great, the food was good, and the general ambiance was quite appealing. Depite the reputation, Cartagena is safe from the troubles affecting much of Colombia, although there are the usual city problems of pickpockets, etc.

Its true that the beaches are far from the best. We stayed at the Santa Teresa hotel in the old city, a wonderful hotel with great service. There is a really nice pool on the roof. We went to the Rosario Islands for two nights, which was nice...very quiet.

We had wanted to go to the colonial town of Mompos, about 100 miles inland from Cartagena. The overwhelming consensus was that it would be risky to travel overland there, so we didn't. Airplane service from Cartagena to Mompos was starting the week after we left. We were in the city too long to see new sights every day, but still had a great time mising sightseeing and relaxing.
 
Old Mar 1st, 2000, 09:13 PM
  #12  
Vanessa
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Howard,

Glad you had a good time. Cartagena has been one of my favourite places to visit.

I've never stayed in the old city but the Santa Teresa looks like it would be a great hotel. Glad to hear a first hand recommendation for it.
 

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