Barranquilla, although offers very little in the way of P4P, is one of the most laid back and fun cities to go if you like local, cultural nightlife. The city is known for it's laid back laziness, so to speak, and this can reflect in the organization and cleanliness. However, the women are BEYOND compare. They are known to offer the most naturally beautiful of women from Colombia, especially morenas, and this is even where Shakira came from! See the way she dances on in the videos? Try going to a club and seeing scores of women doing the same if not crazier and better in every direction! Fucking amazing place to go if not solely for P4P and can put up with the heat, relaxed culture and non-modern city. By the way, Barranquilla is ranked as the #2 safest city in Colombia - especially for tourists.
Medellin...I have to wonder where you were the whole time? Medellin is a super-modernized business hub, ranking just below Bogota, having the conveniences of a modern city without being too big like Bogota. Everywhere you look there are mountains surrounding the long North-to-South valley. It is the safest city in Colombia at the time. Although the architecture is not what you would see in Miami, it offers better views and more modern areas than almost anywhere in Colombia. It has a very organized bus system, a Metro line with two separate lines and 2 additional metrocables, and a super-efficient Taxi system (hard to navigate? did you not have a map, not understand numbered streets or just not know enough Spanish to figure it out?) The city is riddled with parks, and is regularly tearing down old aras and putting in zona-verdes. There are more americanized street and sidewalk setups than I have seen anywhere in Colombia, and besides Bogota they have the best maintained sidewalks in the country (as opposed to Barranquilla where you have to watch every step you make to ensure you don't fall in a hole and disappear). The women, although beautiful, are very fake (lots of surgery) and lost a lot of historical culture with the modernness that the city has developed. "I found a few nice casas but they are scattered around and difficult to deal with. Everything has to be by taxi." Hmmm...hard to deal with? This city is not known for it's level of English, and that is about the only thing I have heard when it comes to being hard to deal with...so maybe a language barrier? As for everything having to be by taxi, WTF, it isn't boystown in Nuevo Laredo!
"The "dangerous" part of Colombia is the jungle area in the southern part of the country. " Ohh....sigh...you just don't know much about this country at all, do you. I'm really happy I'm not relying on your post to go there for the first time. Sorry to be blunt, but the statement is just so sweeping and lacking any good travel advice.
Cartagena is much of what you said, however very touristy with prices that usually run a bit higher. Maybe that is more your thing, but for those who want to take in more culture and diverse opportunities, these other cities you degrade have SOOO many good things to offer. I showed this post to three other people already, and they all said that the explanations of Barranquilla and Medellin sound the exact opposite of what they really are. We are in agreement that (1) you never made it to those cities or (2) your Spanish wasn't good enough to make it as it should be or (3) you don't click with true latin american culture.
At any rate, hopefully future readers will not take into account only your post, as they would be missing so much. In two years I have had 4 mongering friends come to visit. Two of them moved here after the first visit, the other two have come back multiple times and never tire of the fun and excitement!
To each their own...