So I mentioned yesterday that the bus rides in Cartagena are an experience. They are certainly affordable. Every bus costs 2,000 pesos, which translates to approximately 65 US cents, or 84 Canadian cents. Pretty cheap. But, is it worth it? It depends. Here’s what I’ve experienced getting around Cartagena on public transit and taxi.
Getting Around Cartagena by Bus
I took three buses on different routes yesterday. Two of them I would take again in a heartbeat, the other, probably not.
The First Bus From Campestre
First bus – from my home to the foundation (work). My home is in the “Campestre” barrio or neighborhood. I love that they are called barrios, it makes me feel like I’m in the L.A. of Sanford & Son or something. So retro sounding. But really it’s just a Spanish word for neighborhood.
Anyway, the Campestre barrio is inland – it’s a middle class area kind of far from the tourist parts of town (on the map above, that’s the area along the ocean from Bocagrande – sort of like the South Beach – to Getsemani and beyond to Old Town).
My bus ride today (which I successfully completed on my own) was really easy. I catch the bus at the corner 2 blocks down the street and take it about 20 minutes and walk about 5 minutes from the stop. All for 84 cents. I will do that every morning. No problem.
Bus To Cartagena’s Tourist Area
The second bus took me from the stop near work to the old city. I will definitely take this bus again. It took about 15 minutes, had some great views along the way, and stopped right outside the old city, which is GORGEOUS! As you can see in the map below, the foundation is pretty close to the ocean.
So there will likely be a lot of days where I head from work into the walled city for a walk, beer, or any excuse I can think of!
The Bus That Broke Me and Got Me in A Taxi
The last bus was painful. It was oppressively hot – because the buses have no AC – and standing room only. This is the bus from the Old City to the barrio. It took an hour and the driver was insane. He was racing around corners and braking and starting with crazy frequency. I thought I was going to vomit. I do get car sick so this was not for me. THEN, I find out from the person who took me on this rotten journey that a taxi is only 12,000 – 14,000 pesos. I’m like why am I getting sick when I could have spent FIVE DOLLARS!?! Anyway, never again with that bus. The cabs have Air con. Win.
Taxis are Inexpensive
I did take a taxi home from work today, simply because no one has shown me where my end stop is. It was fine and only 8,000 pesos. Compared to Toronto, the taxis here are CHEAP!
I have also been warned to be very careful on the buses. Don’t flash money (duh) and don’t take out my cell phone at all. That’s a bit of an inconvenience but I get it and certainly don’t want to lose my mobile.
Traffic in Cartagena
Traffic here is insane. I had speculated about trying to find a bicycle to use, but it’s very uncomfortable with the heat. Plus the fact there are so many motorbikes going on sidewalks and around traffic I do worry about safety. Apparently many of those motorbikes are used as taxis and they do circumvent traffic pretty well. My Colombian mother, Marcela, and I discussed that this morning and she does not want me to try it. I think my U.S. mother might agree. But everybody says if you’re in a rush, motorbike taxis are a good idea. And cheaper than a real taxi. But we’ve already established that real taxis are dirt cheap and there are a couple of buses I will keep taking. So now you know more about getting around Cartagena. I’ll let you know if I ride one of those motorbikes. Just don’t tell Marcela.