Cartegena - You'll Love this Colorful Caribbean Jewel

I'm not sure what to say about Cartagena, I think the photos speak for themselves and what I really want to show you is the incredible color of the city. This really is a charming town, which retains a local ambiance even in the face of rising tourism. I'd recommend coming off-season and paying attention to the cruise ship schedule. We enjoyed the city precisely because it wasn't bursting with foreigners, we were there  in mid-January, right as the major Colombian Christmas vacation ended, and luckily for us there were no cruise ship docked at the port for the days we were there.
This is a colonial city with a defensive fortress wall which is reminiscent of the  broad fortification surrounding Dubrovnik. It's a city of color and greenery, churches  squares, music, balconies, bright houses, courtyards, doorways and hot sunshine. It was, as everyone suggested, very romantic. In fact it feels like the quintessential colonial Caribbean city. 
Right now it's still lovely but on a crowded day, or when some of the new developments are built, and the locals are more marginalized, I could see that it could morph into a Disneyland for wealthy domestic travelers and  North American weekenders.
As you can see I was obsessed by the doorways and who wouldn't be? It's  Instagram heaven, from peeling paint to perfectly restored historic hotels it's all lovely.
There is every vibrant color you can imagine from blues to pinks to purples and organs. IN fact there's almost everything except bland, or beige or cautiously tasteful. The colors stand up well to each other and the hot sun which is unrelenting.
 The color isn't restricted to domestic buildings, some of the churches are colorful too.
You'll want to pop into some of the high end hotels which provide a wonderful opportunity to see several beautiful internal courtyards. Below is the interior of the Sofitel, The Hotel Santa Clara which was converted from a 17th century convent. We considered staying here but I was shocked by the prices which we running over $800 per night. Crazy when you consider the current bargain at another Sofitel Legend property, the even more fabulous  Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan where we stayed the year before.  Instead  of staying here we ordered a couple of limonadas de coco and sat and read for an hour or two to enjoy the ambiance.  There's are often musicians playing in the square in front of the hotel  during the day and in the evening so it's worth taking a stroll in that direction.
The truth is we did very little when we were in Cartegena beyond walking around, reading and eating. We didn't take any food or walking tours, visit the fort, or the market, or go out on a boat trip. As usual we were lazy tourists, which really should be the name of the blog ;).
So, sit back with a  delicious frozen Limonada de Coco and enjoy the tour...
The most energetic thing we did was walk the walls and though it wasn't hard it was very, very, hot. No wonder we drank so many of these limonadas and stopped continuously to buy fresh mango from the food carts as we strolled.
We looked up at the fort but decided against struggling up there. After all on only had three days to do nothing!
As you can see the city walls weren't too busy in the heat...
Restaurant Recommendations: I can recommend three meals we enjoyed in Cartegena, Carmen is a lovely restaurant (sister to  the one in Medellin) situated in the interior courtyard of the Ananda Hotel. The food was excellent, interesting and fusion. It's well worth knowing that portions in Carmen, as in much of Colombia, are large so don't over order. I'd also recommend making a reservation in advance as they are very popular. The rooftop bar was recommended but we didn't make it up there. We enjoyed  ceviche at La Cevicheria a well know seafood joint near the Santa Clara hotel. They don't take reservations and I don't like to wait so I suggest coming for a late lunch or an early dinner as we did. We also enjoyed a meal at Vera the restaurant in the Tcherassi Hotel where we were staying. I'd recommend it if you're looking for and elegant Italian meal, again you'll need a reservation particularly in the high season or on the weekend.