Friday

Travel Colombia. What not to do in Cartagena de Indias



Thanks to the internet we now live in a world where the harsh criticising of others is widely accepted. Users on social media spread false rumours about places and people, and they do this well knowing that they might destroy their victim’s reputation, livelihood or career. It seems to be an enjoyable pastime for many. People who believe to know and understand everything explain others the world we live in. Unfiltered, and they love to do this anonymously. The foolish person's revenge is to give false and negative reviews online. Will we ever find out where all this hate comes from?

When I mentioned I plan to visit Cartagena reactions were interesting, and while I walked through Cartagena I saw a lot of outright rudeness from visitors towards locals. I jumped onto Tripadvisor to find out what the general public was thinking about Cartagena. The advantage of Tripadvisor is that you get reviews from people from all walks of life and all age groups: First let us see what this panel of experts had to say after their visit to the walled city of Cartagena de Indias. You read that correctly, people reviewed a whole part of town based on their visit. Some of them literally took my breath away.

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… this is a place where everyone is dirt poor and constantly bothering you to sell you some trinket. In other impoverished places, you at least have the "resort area" that is nice. IN CARTAGENA, ONCE YOU LEAVE THE HOTEL, YOU ARE IN A SLUM.

It is really not worth visiting Cartagena. All the people want to do is rip you off. They constantly harass you to sell things. … And no effort what so ever is made to clean and maintain the city...

Walled city itself is beautiful. … The only drawback are the natives.

From the moment you step off the cruise ship to when you get back on 6 hours later there is a whole string of setups designed to extract the maximum $$ out of your pocket whilst delivering typically minimal third world service. … damn good reason to stay at home where you'll get way better options at fair prices. Without having to deal with the oppressive heat that will leave you feeling too drained to do anything within 60 minutes of arriving. … About the walled city, it's reasonably well laid out. And there is a bit to see. … The poverty on the way there by taxi may make you feel unsafe…

The locals are friendly enough, but finding anyone that speaks English is a challenge.

The city is also incredibly hot and the smell of horse manure from the carriage rides is not the most pleasant aroma while trying to eat in an open air restaurant.

An incredibly overrated experience. I can see how some like it but overpriced, touristy and peddlers are annoying they won't leave you alone.

I found the old town interesting, however the population is very poor and you will constantly have someone trying to sell you something.

I walked the streets of Cartagena to find vendors being very aggressive to sell you anything if you would say no they will keep insisting and don't even dare to ask for prices cause they will not let you alone they will follow you. … Everywhere you go you'll see poverty.

We visited on a ship excursion. There were protests going on and it was extremely hot. We enjoyed taking pictures of the architecture. We cut the tour short to go to the local Hard Rock for a cool beverage.

I didn't get it. … Not old quaint, just old and run down.

The walled city itself is pretty, but there is absolutely nothing to do! Unless you like salsa that is. I had the most boring holiday and I am not going back EVER. … No one speaks English, and there is no proper night life with normal music there.

Cartagena is boring as hell.

…the time needed here was an hour to take pictures and enjoy the aging architecture. The whole space is very touristy. …

There's no doubt it has historical importance. As a fort it's not impressive, rather low walls.

… dirty, smell like urine everywhere, people trying to sell you things all the time. Go other places.

It’s nothing like you see on Pinterest. Closer to the images found in Google images.

It's the Disney version of a Latin American experience.

The city is dirty, stinks, and there is not good customer service at all.

After you have walked around for about one hour, there is really nothing to see anymore.


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Here is what I would like to add to the discussion and what I would like to ask you not to do in Cartagena...

Complains by tourists that Cartagena is too touristy

Tourists are annoying creatures, right? It surely is beautiful to live in a blissful state of denial, but what brought you to Cartagena? Exactly, please get off your high horse and be kind. We are all tourists.

Complaints about the heat

It is what it is; it is the climate of the region, humidity rules for most of the year. Wear appropriate clothes and stay hydrated. Imagine people live in these conditions and they handle rudeness with grace. That is impressive.

Complaints about street vendors

They make a living from it, it is their livelihood. If you aren’t interested, smile and say thank you so much. If they ask a second time, smile once more, it is free. It is probably very different to what we all know from home, that doesn’t make it wrong. Street vendors are human beings and not some sort of extraterrestial creatures that are to be left alone.

Complaints about people living in poverty

Reality check. Colombia is a developing economy. Please show respect and wake up from your dream world. How can tourists who can afford to visit Cartagena feel disturbed by locals who aren’t that well off?

Complaints about Spanish speaking locals

Take language classes or toughen up, you are in Colombia. Spanish is the official language. No Finn would ever travel to the US or to Switzerland and expect the locals to speak Suomi.

One Last Thought on Cartagena de Indias Online Reviews

I use Tripadvisor too, and I wrote this to make people aware of how wrong it is to spread false rumours, to leave false reviews and to write about things they have not enough experience or deep knowledge to talk about.

Read more Cartagena de Indias


From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.