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Travel Diary: A Day in Cartagena

Sunny springtime weather has me flashing back to a favorite winter weather escape, Cartagena, Columbia.  We visited just after Christmas and this beautiful coastal town was bustling with holiday revelers.  The city was full of people but very manageable in that reservations for dining were easy to come by and shopkeepers were attentive and helpful.  The vibe was festive and the people of Cartagena are warm and embracing. Encamped within Cartagena’s Old Town at the delightful Bastion Luxury Hotel (built on the site of a 15th-century house), we were perfectly located to explore the historic Old Town. We started our day with breakfast in the shady Bastion courtyard and then set out for our daily exercise routine, circling the walled city.

Walking along the top of the wall, about a 4km distance, is a great way to orient yourself to the Old Town and capture great views of the Caribbean Sea and the skyline of modern Cartagena. The wall itself and accompanying fortresses were built in the early 15th-century to defend the city against pirate attacks.

Step down from the wall and enter the gates of the city and you are immediately struck by the warmth of the people and the vibrancy of the the colors.

The exuberance of the Cartagenan people is never more present than in the facades and doors of their homes and businesses. Saucy colors and cheeky combinations are the order of the day. I was completely taken with the bravado of the people and their bold use of color.

Attention jewelry lovers: Fabulous options abound for contemporary gold jewelry and don’t miss a stop at Cano for sculptural cuffs and earrings.

Our favorite boutique, St. Dom, requires a deep dive and an extended stay in the dressing room. With an eclectic array of clothes, jewelry, art and accessories, St. Dom features over 100 Columbian designers including Johana Ortiz’s spectacular shop-in-shop.

Next stop is lunch at Lobo De Mar for icy margaritas and guacamole followed by tuna ceviche.

While most shops remain open, the traffic in the afternoon in the Old Town slows as the heat increases and we returned for a while to take advantage of the Bastion’s rooftop pool with gauzy-draped perches ideal for a siesta.

The poolside burrata salad at The Bastion…

We hit the streets again landing at the fabulous home emporium Casa Chiqui. A feast for the senses for this designer, Casa Chiqui, is stocked to the brim by it’s owner, Columbian socialite Chiqui de Echavarria, and is filled with gorgeous tableware, furniture, embroidered textiles, Columbian woven baskets, clothing, and jewelry.

One of each please!

…and then more doors.

There are even doors within doors:

Fabulous doors are often dressed with even more fabulous door knockers… the design giving a clue as to the profession of the resident, in this case, a fisherman.

One of the best dinner spots in Cartagena is unquestionably El Gobernador “The Governor”, located at the Bastion. In the coziest of dining rooms, we dined on native delicacies like lionfish and their signature dessert “Coco Loco”.

The best nightcap of all…some late-night star gazing back at the Bastion rooftop.

Goodbye beautiful Cartagena until next time 🙂

Southern Style Now 2018

Janie is just back from a trip from Charleston, S.C., where she was invited to participate in Southern Style Now 2018, a multi-day festival celebrating Southern design. The festival included keynote speakers, panel discussions, cocktail and dinner parties, exhibitions, and a Showhouse sponsored by Traditional Home. As one of the many fabulous events, Janie spoke […]

Collections (and what to do with them)

Organizing and displaying collections takes careful thought.  I always encourage clients to group whatever they are collecting en masse.  It is visually stronger and more interesting  to display a group of similar items in relation to each other.  Most anything can constitute a collection.  I rotate my own collections which range from sort-of special to especially […]

Janie’s Morocco Travel Diary

In researching our Marrakech hotel, El-Fenn, I’d heard it offered some excellent eye candy for decorator-types. It did not disappoint. Located within the walls of the medina, the hotel is made up of a series of connected riads with tucked-away courtyards, pools, and a rooftop garden with lounge dining, more courtyards, another plunge pool, and […]

Beginnings and Endings

Inspired by House Beautiful’s Before & After issue this February, I revisited some of our projects and a few favorite beginnings and endings are below. Beachside Restaurant At Rooster’s Southern Kitchen in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina,  we unified the existing interior wall treatments by painting all walls and ceilings a warm, creamy white. Floors were stripped […]