Happy new year yall…2015 was probably one of the most exciting years of my life with many major changes that ensued.
A few months ago I decided to to venture to a city unbeknownst to me, and as usual, it was absolutely the right decision, and I’m pretty confident when I say, it was the best new year of my life.
Cartagena, Colombia, is just an hour flight from Bogota, where we met for the first two days of our much needed week long vaca. Having booked the W hotel in the Financial District, it is actually really chic and W-esque, but I am now aware that I am no longer able to stay there because the bathroom is literally in your room. A tub at the end of the bed. The shower, one foot to the right of the bed. Wash your hands in the sink from bed? Sure, why not….but the catch was: I had to listen to Jacobo rant hysterically about this for two days straight, but if you want a centrally located hotel that is clean, and ‘tries too hard to be chic,’ than the W is your best bet. The night we arrived, on Sunday, the only thing opened on off season was Andres Carne de Res DC in the city (there is one outside the city as well). To me, this establishment is a tourist trap and an upscale Fridays with salty food and poor service. I truly can not figure out how and why it is remotely jam packed. Tackola. So, after dinner, we went to bed, and the next day, Monday, went to the Museo del Oro, which is the Colombian historical museum. UM, yeah, I kind of forgot museums globally are mostly closed Mondays, so I got my way, and we headed to the Botero collection, which just happened to be open. Let me just tell you, this whole experience was worth the back pain from all of the pot holes we hit while in a small yellow taxi en route. Located near the Museo del Oro, this hacienda holds his earlier works, pencil drawings, painting, sculptures, which are all too reminiscent of my childhood, plus his private collection, including Manolo Valdez, Calder’s, Picasso’s and an Alex Katz….which I saw across the hacienda. Not indicative of his general portraits, I cant even tell you how happy it made me…..so, the Botero is totally worth the trip, oh, and did I mention it is free to enter?
After overdosing on obesity at Botero, we decided to attempt to emulate the portraits, and headed to the best restaurant in Bogota, which hands down, was Harry Sasson. Having been recommended to me by my best friend Carolyn Travis, we were repeat offenders of this Michellin starred restaurant. 2x in 24 hours = impressive. Not only was the architecture fascinating, the food was just perfect. The scallops melted on my tongue. The asparagus simply grilled was somehow, the best dish of vegetables I ever inhaled. The fried rice, and grilled fish, the crab salad and the Santa Rita vino blanco, left me speechless. Harry was there, so I said hello, but he was a bit stiff for my taste, unlike my other celeb chef friends like Scott Conant and Johnny Iuzzini. He needs to TID = tone it downnn…..
That night, we headed to the rooftop of the Click Clack hotel to meet my MoCA/Art Dealer friend Sandra Montenegro, who recently moved to Colombia, and chilled to some great tunes on the rooftop, that provides a view of the whole city. It is very SoHO House Berlin, just gone more simple. There ceasar salad was delectable and I highly recommend this boutique spot when in town.
So fast forward to Cartagena. We arrived on Wednesday and our biggest mistake was not taking the last minute hotel room offered to me by my dear friend Josh Gilinski, owner of the Charleston Santa Teresa Hotel. I shall not say more, but I will never make the mistake of NOT staying there. NEVER.
So, night one, Amex allegedly books me a reservation at Cuzco. We arrive. No res. So, we figure it out, get a table, and in this bohemian Peruvian joint, supped on the most WOW ceviche’s, clams and lomo saltado (meat). It is easy for me to say, this was the most delicious meal we enjoyed in Cartagena. Then while walking after dinner to burn off calories, I run into Gabriel Gilinski and Benjamin Gilinski, outside of la Vitrola.
This is said to be the most difficult restaurant to get into, and of course my G boys were enjoying dinner there. J’adore. So they sent us to the plaza at the Santa Teresa to have a drink and then told us to head to Café del Mar. If you like house music, maybe this is for you….but for me, its my worst nightmare, so of course, because all of my life I have been social, educated around the world and just popular I suppose, I run into Joe Faskha, his wife Sophie, Sophie Douer, Sari Bibliowicz, her husband and others, who were like “come with us to a party,” so of course we accept. We walk 10 blocks, and I finally ask “who’s party are we going to?” When I heard Felipe Echavaria, I just laughed. Felipe was also my friend from college, lived in my building in East Cambridge and was roomates with my ex boyfriends son. So, we go to this major villa, with paparazzi outside (?), and the estate was just WOW. Once on le rooftop, I ran into designer Esteban Cortezar (Gianni Versace discovery) who I have known from my early South Beach days, and most recently also ran into in Paris and at the Webster on Miami Beach. The disco music blaring + Aguardiente (translates to fire water, um yes) + the sound of the sea + pretty people, is always a great start to a trip….but we had to wake up early to go on Michele Davila’s boat to las islas….so we left at 1 a.m., because my man needs his beauty rest. Truth is, I could have stayed all night, that’s how fab it was.
So, we wake up at 9 and head to Michele’s casa….or shall we call it a hacienda. Michele and I met through our Spanish Royalsita girlfriend Ines from Spain at Omar’s La Ranita pop-up during art basel. We became fast friends. Before you know it, conversation led to realizing I went to college with her son Herbert. We exchanged info, and Michele so kindly invited us to the house, a restored building behind a tiny wooden door….something out of a fairy tale book that you only can imagine.
The plan of the day was to get on the boat and go to a private island of homes, do a BBQ and chill. Truth is, once we were out on the canoe, it was a day we just didn’t want to end, and of course, there were people on the boat who I also knew from los Boston days like Michael Chetrit, and I left the boat with all kinds of new friends, like Herbert’s sister Erika and his fierce wife Yuliana. A group of us youngstaz…..we had taken a smaller power boat from the house a private island for illegal swimming and when we returned to the house, had a marvelous lunch and way too much dancing + Carlos Vives. Imagine that.
Upon our return + a great sunburn + post nap, we had dinner at Don Juan, where again, Amex sent me a confirmation but there was no reservation. Somehow, we were afforded a table….as if they were doing us a favor. The restaurant is supposed to be one of the best, but um….I was not impressed. The following day, Martha Hampton (who opened Casa Tua and the St. Augustin, now lives all over the world but has a business that rents apartments in Cartagena), a new friend via Ana Margherita, sent us to Cande, for some local food. It was delicious and fresh, and the best part of it was the Coconut and Lime juice.
This was the 31st…so we rested, and got glam, because los Gilinski’s invited us to their SUPERB new years party at the Santa Teresa, which was more like a massive wedding of elegance, that one day I will emulate in Capri at La Fontelina.
While mostly everyone wears white, based upon tradition, yours truly was decked out in Missoni. I am such a rebel. Ha. Jacobo and I were matching. It was so romantic…especially because I dressed him, and that’s a stylists fantasy. It was at this major soiree that as per the usual moi, I also ran into so many friends, like Nicole Goldstein, Raymond Beda, and Adriana Rendon Ventura. The fireworks, the people, the white outfits that surrounded us, the packed plaza below us, the ocean breeze, plus the love and energy that surrounded us, I must say was simply indescribable.….and then my phone beeped, and it was Michele, inviting us to a party at an estate…so around 1, we took off and ended up with our friends, and ran into more (shocked?) like Paula Mendoza, jewelry designer that I just briefly met once through Edison Lozada, and some chick Camila who remembered me from college in Boston plus Alex and Maya Srour. Post party, with blistered feet, we somehow found a taxi, and made it back at a reasonable hour, compared to others, as I heard rumors that my friend Julio Santo Domingo from College, of Sheik n Beik, had a major fiesta that lasted till way after the sun came up….and of course, I just saved the best for last….shopping! On our last day in the old city, we went to the BEST STORE for some great local buys by designers from the country….a true conceptual experience, where the store is also coincidentally owned by Alex and Maya. St. Dom…..don’t miss it when in town. I scored a great clutch by…well, I would tell you the brand but Aero Mexico’s dumpy airline lost my luggage, but we bought one for Michele too, for being so wonderful to us, and she loved it. I also treated myself to a chic pair of flat espadrilles in gold (lost), plus some SICK one-of-a-kind headbands by Miss Ballanta (missing in action).
Oh, by the way, Harry Sasson also has a restaurant in the Sta. Teresa, so we went there for a quick lunch, rested and for our last meal, attempted the impossible: a table at La Vitrola sans reservation. Well, my Mexican’s accent, turned on the guard at the front, who claimed he loved Mexi’s, and after we watched them turn down 3 people in front of us, he had the captain give us a table. I highly recommend The California Salad and the Shrimp Ceviche. It was the perfect place to end our trip, and as Jacobo said ‘the perfect way to start the new year.’
Chin-chin + a toast….Happy New Year, and I hope this blog post gave you some great tips for your next trip to Bogota and Cartagena….or perhaps a new years idea for 2017.
Xo. J’adore. MsErinsita
* Header photo, seen wearing a Stella McCartney Dress, Goyard Paris tote, Vintage Ferragamo shoes and The Row X Linda Farrow Sunnies*