Cartagena is a stop from a 16 day cruise we have taken, so technically it's not even a "full" day but just a few hours. But a few hours in a place loaded with pretty sights to see and tons of instagramable spots to take photos with you will have content for days and days.
The downside of visiting tourist spot from a cruise ship stop is that you are tied with ship’s time. Meaning, you will always be battling with a crowd.
There is no option of going early or late. You also don’t get to have the light you desire, sometimes you find yourself in the harsh light and shadow! But then again, this should challenge your creative side right ?!(or your photoshop skills! ) on how to work through a crowd and the harsh light, because after all… there is never really or very rarely is there a perfect condition for travelers/photographers.
Having said that, we still managed to do a lot and get plenty of beautiful photos with limited time and a headful of challenges. The Old Town is just brimming with photo spots that there is a guarantee that you will manage to take tons photos.
Hang Out & Take Photos with the Palenqueras
You either tip them or buy fruits if you want to have your photo taken with them. For me that’s perfectly fine! If you don’t mind either, just negotiate the fee before you start taking photos so none of you feels ripped off afterwards. There are several palenqueras around the old town. Just by the clock tower entrance are two ladies with whom we decided to buy fruits from. I'd suggest you do that too as it is a good way to hydrate because the heat in Colombia can be so scorching and the sweet and succulent fruits is the best remedy for this.
These ladies knows the deal, pay them and they will gladly have their photos taken with you. They are always photo ready, posing, twirling and dancing if you want!
In Plaza dela Aduana, we found another group of Palenqueras (6 ladies), whom we decided to have another photo session (with a tip, no fruit purchase). They are such happy group of ladies, that when hubs gave them the agreed tip, I told them I'm giving more, and they started hugging and carrying me, instructing my husband to take more photos.
We are budget traveler, but I don’t mind tipping people especially if the amount is not that huge, and they bring so much joy then maybe we can reciprocate that joy in a small amount.
Get lost & Take photos in the Colorful Streets
Prior to going to Old Town, I have marked places/houses/establishment that I wanted to visit and take photos with. But to be honest, I don’t really see the need for this. Once, you enter the old town, you could easily get lost from the beauty of each colonial architecture.
But if you need reference, below are some houses we took photos of, with their corresponding coordinates or street/establishment name(we lost the GPS at some point).
1. Calle Del Cuartel 3549
Oh, the balcony of this colonial architecture! So pretty right? This is one of the least busy streets in the Old Town which made it relatively easy to take photo.
2. This is in Calle 36, going to Abaco Libros y Cafe where we initially intended to go. But it is super crowded there and I didn't want to disturb the other guest with taking photos inside so I settled for a photo in the street instead.
3. Great view of the Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandria from Calle de los Santos de Piedra. This is an extremely busy street, so you need to have a lot of patience. With limited time we never found that window where the street is devoid of people or car. But if you are staying here longer, go early in the morning, then you just might find this street empty.
4. Somewhere in Calle de Don Sancho, we found this blue-tiful spot with purple and green blooms! Very instagrammable, right?!
5. In Calle Estanco del Aguardiente 38 #I-1, is another blue-ming blue-tiful spot with pink windows. (As you can see, Cartagena is so beautiful that it is challenging my vocabulary and I'm running out of adjectives to compliment it.) This is actually a restaurant called Origenes Restaurante & Bar.
Latitude: 10° 25’ 34.584” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 55.14” W
6. Iglesia De Santo Toribio: the minimalist vibe of this church is so charming that I can't stop myself from taking photo. This church is situated in Carrera 7, #38-15, near the Plaza Fernandez de Madrid.
Latitude: 10° 25’ 35.922” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 53.442” W
7. I'm sure you have seen this in instagram, as it is one of Instagrammer's favorite photo spot. 80 meters or approximately a minute walk from Iglesia De Santo Toribio via Calle 38 this yellow building is actually a store called Claudia Akel located in Carrera 8 #30-165.
Latitude: 10° 25’ 37.554” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 52.122” W
8. Several steps away from Claudia Akel is another blue-tiful spot but in a different hue located in Carrera 8 #3838.
Latitude: 10° 25’ 37.554” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 52.122” W
9.Photos from 7 - 9 are actually located in the same street! And there are so much more pretty spots which we didn't manage to take photos with because of the crowd. This street actually gets my vote for the prettiest street in Cartagena. So definitely take note of this street: Carrera 8 particularly the one between Calle 38 and Calle 39
Latitude: 10° 25’ 39.282” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 52.182” W
10. I think this is my favorite photo spot in the Old Town which is an Argentian Restaurant called Marzola. 137, Esquina Calle 39, Carrera 7 #38
Latitude: 10° 25’ 41.316” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 53.664” W
11. 750 meters away from Marzola is the Church of Santo Domingo. If you are into massive doors like me, then this is definitely worth a photo stop situated in Carrera 3, #33-60
12. I'm sure you agree with me that this has all the elements of an IG spot: vibrant color, beautiful vines and blooms, pretty windows. On the door it says SantoFimio 1991 and it is situated in Calle Campo Santo Cl.39-06
Latitude: 10° 25’ 40.974” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 49.638” W
13. I must say this is the prettiest tattoo shop I have ever seen. It doesn't go with what you normally expect from a tatoo shop. This is just a minute away from SantoFimio and called Tattoo Xue Framers, Calle del Jardin N39-03.
Latitude: 10° 25’ 40.608” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 45.606” W
14. How spectacular is this frame of bougainvillea draped around the window.If you head south on Calle Jardin and turn right onto Cl.39 you will see La Jeromattiu in Calle Del Campo Santo. Cl.39 #38-88.
Latitude: 10° 25’ 40.62” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 45.642” W
15. Cartagena is all about vibrant colors, in case you still haven't noticed :-)! And the juxtaposition between the vibrant pink and bright yellow of Casa Gloria is definitely a feast for the eyes. Located in Calle de San Pedro Martir towards Carrera 10
Latitude: 10° 25’ 35.562” N
Longitude: 75° 32’ 44.814” W
16. Less than minute walk from Casa Gloria you will find this street of color explosion with the multi-colored banners and neighborhood. Just head west on Calle de San Pedro Martir then turn left onto Carrera 10. A reference you can use for this spot is the Boszha Cafe Bar.
Barrio San Diego Calle de la Necessidad
Latitude: 10° 25’ 36.264” N Longitude: 75° 32’ 44.418” W
Surely, one day is not enough to see the beauty of Cartagena!I wanted to see more, taste more and experience more of this charming town that stole my heart.