I just got back from an amazing girls trip to Cartagena Colombia celebrating by 50th birthday. I was overwhelmed by it’s details, colors, design, and food. Liz Banfield was along with me and never stopped capturing amazing photos for us, so here is a little rundown for anyone thinking about going visiting.
I was lucky for several great ladies to join me, including my BFF Nicki Clendening of Beetle/Scout Designs, one of my old college roommate, a former neighbor, and my social media manager… We chose to break the trip up into two separate experiences- several days in the walled city of Cartagena, and then a couple of days out in the Rosario Islands. While in the old walled city, we stayed at an Air BnB that was in a fantastic location near the top of the city. I loved getting to my runs in the morning around the wall affording me a vantage point of the entire city.
We spent much our time in the actual walled city wandering around, exploring and shopping. There is so much vibrancy, and many of the balconies had lush greenery and bouguonvillea spilling over it’s edges.
Charleston has it’s share of color, but these bright hues and the way they were paired together was so photo perfect.
There was so much fresh fruit everywhere… Where our street food carts in the U.S. are mostly hot dogs, or grilled meats, etc. theirs are all freshly cut fruits… Definitely an intricate piece of local flavor.
We did take a half day tour on our last day in the city which took us through some neighborhoods outside of the walled city, including Getsemani. Loved getting to see how some of the areas outside of the “tourist corridor really are, and where the locals live. Our tour guide, Brian Munoz with Cartagena Concierge was fantastic… Another tour company of note is the Cultural Concierge…
While in the walled city, it was almost like every building/boutique hotel we popped into or restaurant was a designer’s dream. So many details from painted murals, to intricate tiles, ironwork, lighting details, and landscaping, I could and did spend all of my time getting inspiration from this!
So much shopping… Colombia’s biggest shopping exports are gold and emeralds… However, the woven good, straw made jewelry, and handmade hats were some of our favorite finds. There are also a ton of shops with lovely linen pieces. Some of our favorites were Casa Chiqui, St. Dom, and
Of course my favorite thing to do is eat and drink and there was plenty of amazing opportunities for that… Even this little coffee shop, La Manana (bottom photo) right around the corner from our house was a treasure every morning. Their iced lattes and fruit bowl was a perfect breakfast every day. Some of our other notable spots were Maria, Alma (which was connected to an amazing boutique hotel, Casa San Augustin), Candelaria in Casa La Factoria (this was so delicious, and our server didn’t speak any English, so we just had him bring us his 5 favorite dishes and they were divine! The scenery and design in this spot was amazing- see the photo above with the mural painted on the wall), and one of the best meals I’ve had anywhere was at Carmen. If you ever go, this is a MUST. We also discovered a drink that we couldn’t get enough of in the heat. Frozen coconut creme, lime juice (their limes are more like lemons or key limes) and vodka or rum… Dreamy!
On our fourth day, we left the city by boat and headed out for the Rosario Islands.
After snorkeling in front of one of Pablo Escobar’s 0ld homes and seeing an underwater plane crash, we snorkeled a few reefs. Then, we made it to our house, Almond Island. Our house was a structure in the middle of the water, all self contained but with water views from every open air angle.
Directly across from us was a small island, Aqua de Azul. Every morning we watched the locals putter over on their modest fishing boats to greet people that come to swim and dine on the island every day. It’s a small island with a drink shack and a few people catching and preparing fish for lunch. It was amazing- freshly caught and grilled shrimp small lobsters and fried plantains… Such a little treasure.