My Solo Traveling Moments in Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia
I love getting up early in a new place to wander around and take pictures.

Since Jack tends to wake up later than I do, I have a couple of hours in the morning by myself give me chance to wander around in my own pace.

My early morning walks is my chance to go as slow as I want and make as many photo stops as I want, it’s a taste of selfishness that’s a privilege to solo travelers out there.

Making new friends is also easier when you’re by yourself.

Stray dogs in Cartagena
A new friend made during a morning walk

Besides, there’s something I quite enjoy about seeing a place waking up especially in a place as full of character as Cartagena.

Tinto vendor thermoses
The colorful thermoses that hold tinto and aromatica

In Cartagena, I’d end my walk by getting a tinto (200 COP) or an ‘aromatica’ from one of the street vendors. Carrying my cup, I’d sit on my favorite corner in front a church, and watch the town getting ready for the day.

Aromatica, Cartagena Colombia
An aromatica

In these hours the streets are quiet, and the air still retains its coolness from the night. It would be hard to believe that the day would get as hot as it will.

On their way to work, locals would stop by to get a tinto from the street vendor. Some would stop for awhile to chat.

After awhile I started noticing the same faces morning after morning. They tried to talk to me, unfortunately my lack of Spanish restricted the conversations to ‘Good morning. How are you.’ Then through gesture, they’d tell me to sit down.

And I did.

Morning in Cartagena, Colombia

Then I watched the delivery men pushing carts piled with stuff on the street and people stepping out of these colorful buildings on their way to work.

On the way to work, Cartagena, Colombia
On the way to work, Cartagena, Colombia

I saw the tinto vendors get their thermoses filled up from a gigantic metal container from a store just around the corner from our hostel.

I got to watch the street cleaners picking up discarded plastic tinto cups and the previous night’s garbage off the street.

A tinto vendor and his dog in Cartagena
The tinto vendor I get my coffee morning from, and his dog - Chocolate.

I got to see those who tend to be invisible in the excitement of sightseeing during the day.

The shadows cast on the colorful buildings were soft but I could see it getting sharper and I could feel the air temperature rising.

In a couple of hours the heat would become almost unbearable. In a couple of hours the touts, the taxis, and the other backpackers would pour out onto the street to start their day and reclaim the streets.

But not yet.

For these few hours in the morning, the streets belong to us, the early risers.

Early morning at a church in Cartagena
Another of my favorite hang out place in the morning
Tell us:

How do you start your morning when traveling?

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29 Replies to “My Solo Traveling Moments in Cartagena”

  1. Such a nice story 🙂 – and photos (loved the dogs too).

    Interesting question regarding the way I'm starting a day while traveling. I guess it depends. I sometimes like to sleep a little bit more – while in other days I cannot wait to go and visit the touristic objectives I've chose to see in a particular day. But yes, I also like to see people at different times of the day!

  2. Getting up early is the best. Depending on which direction we are traveling, my son tends to make sure we get up and out early. On my husband's days to get up with the baby, he just sits and has coffee. On my days up early, I try to get the baby in the stroller and out the door so we can wander around. It's great to watch a city wake up. Sadly, my son has been sleeping in since we got to Japan. I can't blame him, we have been keeping him up pretty late as we wander the city.

  3. Cartagena looks like such a colorful city. When I'm traveling, I like to hit the streets in the morning because I can't wait to start exploring.

  4. I love that Jack gives you that freedom and doesn't do or say anything to make you feel bad about wandering around the streets of a foreign city alone. Any time that I have travelled with any sort of travel companion they seem to get really protective and insecure and the thought of me wandering around alone freaks them out. Hence the reason why I like to travel alone quite often. Because I can do what I want, when I want, without feeling guilty.

  5. Hi Jill, I always think I should get up early on vacation but it never works that way. 🙂 I'm just not a morning person. I'm glad someone is out there to take those quiet morning pictures I never will!

  6. Sounds like a lovely morning!

    I love that when I'm traveling I tend to wake up much earlier than I do when I'm in my own bed. You get to experience a place a lot differently when you have the opportunity to do so in solitude.

    Hope you have many more quiet mornings 😀


    1. We've been lucky so far (knock on wood). Everytime we look at the weather report, it predicts rain/thunderstorm. But it just never happened! Not that we're complaining about it. We just don't know what to make of it anymore and have stopped worrying about it 🙂
      I didn't know you're heading to Colombia too! How awesome!

  7. Oh no… that's too bad. I guess it can be hard when you're sharing a room with others. On the flip side – since Jack and I go to bed relatively early, we don't mind when the others come in late into the room – and we hope they extend the same courtesy when we get up earlier than they do 🙂

  8. Yep. I actually only do siestas while traveling. Out and about in the morning, lunch and siesta, and out and about again in early afternoon. It's the life.

  9. Lol — the grass is always greener on the other side I guess. The downside of waking up so early is that by the time we get back to the hostel, we'll be too tired to venture out again to see the nightlife of a place.

    1. It's mine too. Sometimes I envy those who thrive in the nightlife scene of a place – but I can't seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy my quiet mornings though.

  10. I used to be an early riser, too, and I had grand plans of doing the same thing as you during my trip. Staying in hostels, though, I was too paranoid of waking people up so I'd like in bed for hours until everyone else got up. Eventually, I started sleeping late, too.

  11. Ashley and I are both night owls. Unless some sort of miracle happens when we get off the plane, the odds of us getting up before the "other backpackers" will be about nil. Still, it's nice to dream and see how blissful the other half live.

  12. What a lovely post Jill! I too tend to go to bed early when I travel, and get up at dawn to explore a fascinating new corner of the world. And yes, I hadn't thought of that (being a die-hard solo traveler myself) but when traveling as a duo, those early morning hours of "solo"tude would provide a special personal experience, indeed.

  13. I am also an early riser but when traveling I like to sleep in a bit. . . say until 7am. I like your idea of just wandering. When I am at home, I get up early to run but usually take time off if I'm only traveling for a week or so. I am thinking now running would be a great way to enjoy the morning like you did. Maybe run one way, get coffee and walk back! Thats sounding good.

  14. I'm with you Jill. I'm the early riser and love to get out and meet the other early risers. Be it a run, taking photos, or just having a coffee on a park bench it's a great way to meet some people and see the place where you are at in a different atmosphere.

  15. oh man… i love getting up early to walk around, or just chill at an early morning cafe- whenever i actually get around to it! You're right, it's such a nice time of the day to be out before it gets too hot and busy. i'm definitely more of a night owl than an early riser though. i'm just lucky jerry's patient enough (well, his ipod keeps him busy) to wait around for me while I go around taking pics :).

  16. in theory, i would like to get up early and do exactly the same thing. its a great way to enjoy the place in relative quiet. in reality, a lot depends on what delicious beverages were available the night before. love the last pic!

  17. Nice post. I think the best way to travel is to stay in one place long enough to get to know it, and for the locals to get to know you. When I stay in one area for at least a week I notice the locals start to get comfortable with me, and open up more about themselves.

  18. This is a wonderful post! What a great way to get in touch with the locals. I tend to spend my mornings in a similar way when I'm traveling. I either begin it with a jog or a walk around where I'm staying.

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