I recently married a Colombian man, as a nod to his heritage we held our ceremony in the magical city of Cartagena, Colombia. Cartagena is a UNESCO heritage site, meaning it's architecture is protected and will always stay true to it’s initial structure and style (sometimes dating as far back as the 1500's) because of this, the city retains much of the same feel it had when it was colonized by Spain in1533. Although Cartagena may look like a jewel from the past, it is also blessed with a thriving contemporary scene for shopping, eating and partying. This is a city to have fun in and that you will do, if you follow my guide below! Promise!
La Vitrola- Ask your hotel to make a reservation ahead of time because this is one of Cartagena's oldest and most popular restaurants. The Cuban band gets the dance floor going at the end of dinner, expect to be transported back to the heyday of caribbean glamor. Attire is dressy make sure you wear a fun pair of heels and make a night of it!
Vera is a sexy spot for pre-dinner cocktails or a romantic dinner for two, this spot is located in Colombian designer Silvia Tcherassi’s chic hotel.The restaurant is stunning with an all white color scheme and a beautiful courtyard view.
Club de Pesca- Located on the fringe of the old city, Club de Pesca is surrounded by an ancient wall built centuries ago to protect Cartagena's gold from pirates. This is a fun spot for a large group or you can reserve a private table for two, sit where the cannons used to be located in the ancient wall. The seafood is fresh and you will have a view of the bay and Castillo Grande.
Now the fun part!
Casa Chiqui has home goods, vintage jewelry, bags, and the cutest hats with Pompoms. The glamorous Chiqui is know for her exquisite taste and vintage finds from all over the world. It's not cheap, but it is unique! You will not find her inventory anywhere else except maybe Shop Latitude.
St. Dom Concept Store- Founded by the owners of Azul (Colombia’s version of Zara), St.Dom showcases a curated selection of the best Colombian designers such as Johanna Ortiz and Pepa Pombo. Johanna Oritz designed two dresses for my wedding and has a special place in my heart. Most of the accessories in our Cartagena home are from St. Dom. It's a great place for discovering the next “it” designer for you or your home.
Silvia Tscherassi - Her Cartagena boutique is home to three signature products: crystal beaded mochila bags, giant bead necklaces, and her unique off the shoulder tops with ruffles. Silvia is Colombia’s premier fashion guru, she also owns the Tscherassi hotel and Vera's restaurant. Her designs are completely original and a must for any Gringa like me who loves everything Colombian. Luckily she sells on Shop Latitude so you can easily check her out!
Onda Del Mar- My top spot for swimwear and cover ups. Their patterns are fun and their cuts are flattering. The prices are very reasonable and they also have great suits for men and kids.
Francesca Miranda- I bought shorts with metallic strawberries, a baby pink top with Georgia May's lips, and a gold zebra dress at Francesca's. Her designs are pure fun and the fabrics are produced by the same factory as Chanel so you know the quality is unparalleled.
Take a day trip to Mariana's Beach Club-Located on Tierra Bomba, directly across from Cartagena and only accessible by boat, Mariana's is a chic, but rustic beach club with cold Rose, chill music, and great food. You have to book ahead of time and Marianan will send a small boat to pick you up. Mariana is a chic Peruvian who curates every corner of the club. It's great for kids and families.
Enjoy local art at NH Gallery
Browse a seminal collection of paintings by Julio Larraz, the unique gilded textiles of Olga de Amaral, the thought-provoking works of Ruby Rumie or the rhythmic beauty of Sophia Vari's monumental sculptures. Located at Centro, Plaza de la Artilleria, Esq Callejon de los Estribos, Cartagena.
Take a Boat to Isla Baru
The beaches in Cartagena are not great. To see clear blue water and perfect beaches you need to rent a boat for a day to take you to the islands. Boats and captains can be easily rented from Todomar right by the Old City. Cruise around the islands with friends, water ski, and party with a DJ at Isla El Cholon. One of my favorite places to eat in Baru is El Pescador de Colores. The chef is from Spain and he makes a mean paella, this is my favorite menu in Cartagena and the two young owners will make sure your service is impeccable and your cup is full.
Courtesy of: Chrissy Crawford, Founder of ArtStar.com
Check out more of Chrissy’s travels and her adopted city of Cartagena @chrissyartstar >