Christmas in Cartagena 2016

Cartagena, Colombia
Day 17-21 of our South America trip (read from day 1)

How we arrived:
Yep you guessed it. We went back on the “direct” bus from Santa Marta. To make the journey a little shorter, the driver decided to drive through the city of Barranquilla at rush hour. As quick as a flash, we arrived at our hostel 7 and a half hours later. Sarcasm aside, the views on the way of the Caribbean coast were pretty cool.

Quick overview:
We were back in the same hostel as we stayed at the night after the boat trip called Mamallena hostel. On the first day (Christmas Eve) I woke up late and with a dicky tummy. We took malaria tablets for staying in Tayrona and they had an adverse effect shall we say. We wandered about the colorful streets of Getsemani area where we were staying and had some plain food. Always staying within reaching distance of our thankfully private ensuite. That evening we took a 2 hour walking tour around the walled Old Town and learned about the history of the city and port including it’s role in selling slaves. The old town is a growing tourist spot with plenty of luxury hotels and fine dining. Myself and Heather looked longingly through windows wishing we weren’t poor travelers with no income. Oh and I also acquired a Christmas haircut for the fine price of $4.

Christmas day felt bizarre not being at home. We spent the morning trying to convince ourselves that we didn’t miss Christmas at home 😦 We both chatted to our very ‘merry’ families and decided there was only 1 cure…head to the dodgy Irish pub!

Christmas in Cartagena
Christmas in Cartagena

That evening the Mamallena hostel organized a Christmas dinner for everyone staying there which comprised of 12 massive chickens, its no turkey dinner, but its still a bird right? We bought a bottle of Baileys and shared it around with everyone but let’s be honest I drank most of it! The night culminated in a very weird game of naked Jenga with people we had just met. Definitely a very different Christmas this year.

The next day we were fairly useless and hungover in 35 degree heat which mostly included me rambling in a dodgy Australian accent. Heather nearly blew her tether. Chortle. The day after, we headed to the airport for our flight to Medellin.

Tourism is only going to grow and grow in the next 10 years in Cartagena as it’s a beautiful city with guaranteed hot weather and near by beaches. Its pretty safe too.

We stayed at Mamallena hostel as we had read a couple’s blog (Twenty Something Burnouts) from 2015 about how they had a good Christmas there. It is also where you can get a boat to and from Panama so that was handy as we had planned to do the boat trip (in the end we booked through Blue Sailing, but you can book directly through Mamallena). The hostel is located in a very lively party area of the city and is a very quick walk to other areas and to the old town if you want a change of scenery. Basic enough but a fun hostel.

Rory’s Rant:
Malaria Tablets. For something that is supposed to prevent and treat a disease it certainly makes you feel like crap. Im no doctor but Mallaria tablets are shite.

Heather’s Highlight:
Cartagena was the first taste of Colombia’s obsession with stunning Christmas light displays. It was magical to see the city light up at night. Literally. Even with it being 35 degrees and hotter most days, I loved walking around the Old Town and observing the variety of people who live in Cartagena.

Read from the start of our South America trip


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