Cartagena is a photographers dream! The houses and buildings are brightly coloured and the streets are filled with flowers. It’s very touristy and can get VERY hot but there’s plenty to see and do to distract from the heat.
We stayed within the Walls of Cartagena which is known as the old town and the best place to stay for tourists. Everything is within walking distance- cafes, bars, restaurants and beautiful streets and colonial buildings.
We went to a really funky restaurant with beautiful interior called Don Juan on the first night. It was probably considered ‘fine dining’ but only cost us around $40 AUD for both our meals and drinks. The restaurant next door, Maria, looked equally as nice inside but is closed on Sunday’s which was the night we were planning to go. We also went to the bar next door to that, Alquimico, on the Friday night before Halloween so all the staff were dressed in crazy costumes and they were serving Halloween style cocktails. We ate there the following night on the rooftop, the food was pretty average but the atmosphere was well worth it.
Carategna could be done on a shoestring budget, there’s a lot of street food available and funky but cheap hostels. A few times we had ‘the meal of the day’ which most local restaurants serve- it’s only about $5 and is a fairly substantial meal of rice, beans, salad and meat. You can buy fruit cups on the street for a dollar or two, fresh and delicious! On the other hand it is easy to splurge at the little boutiques, nice restaurants and rooftop bars. We tried to do a bit of both to make the most of it.
We walked up to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas one morning which is only a short walk from where we were staying. It was packed with tourists and locals selling souvenirs so we didn’t stay too long but long enough to get a good view of the city and learn a bit of history.
On our last night we ate at a Tapas restaurant in the Getsemani area called Demente. It’s located in a lively area, the food was amazing and on warmer nights it has a nice outdoor beer garden area.
We stayed 3 nights which is probably long enough, if we had another night we would have visited the beach which is an hour away and a huge tourist attraction.
We travelled to Medellin after Cartagena and the first thing we noticed was the huge drop in temperature. Medellin is known as the “city of eternal spring” because the temperatures are always mild which is perfect for travellers.
We stayed in El Poblado which is a really lively area, full of restaurants, bars and some really cool cafes including cafe Al Alma, Ganso & Castor and Hija Mia which we’d seen recommended on plenty of blogs.
Two highlights for us were paragliding over Medellin and drinks at Envy rooftop, which has an amazing view over the city. Paragliding is a big attraction in Medellin and a great way to see the city from above. We went on a misty day but it cleared enough to get a good view once the sun came out.
We also went to Pablo Escobar’s jail (the one he built for himself which was more like a secluded mansion). It’s closed two days a week which we learnt the hard way but we still saw enough of the jail from the outside. It’s huge and includes a gym, helicopter pad, plenty of rooms and big gardens.
We also did a group tour to El Penol and Guatape. It was a 12 hour day trip which probably could have taken less than 5 so it dragged on a bit! If we were to do it again we would have done it on our own but it was good to meet new people and see places along the way that we wouldn’t have usually visited. We climbed the 740 steps of El Penol which was harder than I expected but well worth it. The view from the top is beautiful and the whole landmark is awesome to see. Guatapé is a really vibrant town, it’s very picturesque and well known for its colourful and decorative houses. A few snaps below!