While we were in Cartagena, we spent five nights in Getsemani, a neighborhood that just five years ago was considered too dangerous for tourists to visit. Now, it is a safe place you can get a feel for a more local Cartagena. This is where the families sit on the steps outside their houses in the evening listening to music, where there are food carts selling delicious street food, kids playing soccer in the street and bars that rock until the early hours of the morning. This is the area to get delicious cheap food, find hostals to stay in and get a feel for the grittier side of Cartagena (grittier in a good way). Not that we did not LOVE picture perfect perfection of the historic district. Just sometimes you want to feel the vibe of a place that only locals can give it. We got that here.
We stayed in Boca Grande for four nights because I had some Hilton points to cash in. Imagine Miami beach combined with a strip mall. Without a free hotel we would have never even visited this area. There were many Colombians vacationing here though, most of them were staying in the fancy high rise hotels next to the beach. We had some good meals here and walked down the oceanside malacon to the historic center. We were staying at a Hilton with a fancy free breakfast and a pool, I shall not complain =).