Believe me, I did not take pictures of the really bad spots of this neighborhood!
The flight from Panama was very short, we landed at the Cartagena airport before we noticed. The airport itself looked very tropical, lots of palm trees everywhere. Immigration was really quick and efficient and I was through in no time. As soon as I crossed a man approached and offered help with my bags. This was just the first of many many many vendors, sellers, and lots of other people trying to take your money that I would find in Cartagena. I accepted as I still have the stent on my kidney and I really can’t carry heavy stuff. I changed some cash at the airport, but as expected, the currency exchange value was really low. But I needed it, as I was going to pay the taxi and other stuff.
The “taxi” driver was quite friendly, but he said he needed to pick up someone to the grocery store first.
.. I didn’t like it, but since it was a complimentary “shuttle” from the hostel, I thought it would be fine. As we resumed the trip he drove further away from the city and we entered a hmm... slum. I knew the hotel was not in a very good area, but this was really extreme... I felt like going into Haiti! I did not dare take many pictures but maybe I should have... just to show the neighborhood where the hostel is at.
The beach by the hostel
Their hostelworld description said it was by a “charming authentic fishermen area”. If “charming authentic fishermen area” is a synonym to “slum” or “shanty town” then it was definitively accurate. But things started to get even scarier as soon as I got inside.
The place itself is not bad, everything is very clean and well taken care of, and the rooms clean and spacious for a hostel. A guy that seemed from Night of the Living Dead took my heavy bags into the second floor. I didn’t have to check in or anything like that... that was strange, but then the guy came to my room again asking for my passport as we wanted to make a copy of it. I guess I had no choice and then he came back with a receipt, he said it was 200,000 colombian pesos (100 dollars) for two nights. I was like “Huh?” The reason I had booked that place is because it was only 20 dollars a night according to Hostelworld. Luckily I had printed my Hostelworld reservation and I went downstairs and showed it to the lady. She said “oh, well, you know our actual price is 50 dollars a night, but it seems that people who books on that website gets a really good price”.
Relaxing at the swimming pool
I just kept looking at her. Then she said “yes, well, as I said that is what we charge, but if people show us their bookings we give them the price they saw online”. Then it was clear, geez! They were trying to rip me off. I told her I would pay the 100,000 pesos right away if I could get a receipt. The dude was in charge of making the receipt and God, did he take long writing it. The guy could barely write, it was really sad. I did not look at it at the time, but later I realized they made if for only two nights instead of three (as I had originally booked). So they were scamming me still. I decided not to argue again, it would be better to spend the last night in Cartagena at the Caribe Hotel (the conference hotel). I did not want to spend big bucks in Colombia, but I had no choice.
Life is great!
I rested a little inside my room and tried to recover from the shock. I wasn’t sure if I should leave my stuff here the next day, when I would tour Cartagena. I thought that if they were trying to rip me off with the hotel price, they were not people I could trust with my life (laptop and passports), so I would carry them with me.
I went to the swimming pool and tried to relax a bit. As I said, the hostel itself is not bad, and if it was in a better area and were administered by honest people, it would be a wonder. I ordered fish dinner from a “restaurant” nearby and it was really good, I have to say. I found that there were a couple other tourists at the place. I felt better. They were a couple from Britain that looked really friendly. I did not have the chance to talk to them much as they were going to go out (!) (somebody from the hostel would drive them into Cartagena downtown). After relaxing at the hammock and dinner there was really not much else to do and I retired to my room to sleep.
Cartagena Hotels & Accommodations review
Quite scary... not recommended
This hostel is located in one of the worst areas of Cartagena. It's actually not even in Cartagena, but actually in a small "fishermen village" area a… read entire review