As you know, our passion is Interiors, but the entire Lucas/Eilers team is fascinated with flowers. A recent trip to Cartagena and Bogotá with our garden club was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the inspiring blooms, gardens, birds, landscapes, museums, architecture and people of Colombia. We thought we would share a little glimpse of some of the marvelous things we encountered along the way.
Our journey began in Cartagena de Indias, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The picturesque “old city” with narrow cobblestoned streets and Spanish colonial architecture is completely “walled-in” by Las Murallas, (thick stone walls) that protected the city from pirates in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
A former convent built in the 17thcentury, Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa was our comfortable home for a few nights. The rooftop bar was a perfect place to watch the sunset over the historic city. We were treated to a tour of a lovely private residence within the city and enjoyed a lively local dinner at La Vitrola.
Aviario, The National Aviary of Colombia is home to 1,800 birds and more than 138 species. I could have watched the graceful flamingos for hours. What a wonderful experience to be eye to eye with so many beautiful birds!
The Punta Iguana Club was just a delightful boat ride away and hosted a delicious lunch of amazingly fresh seafood for us on their private beach.
Another special treat was touring the gardens and incredible architecture of Rogelio Salmona at Casa de Huespedes Ilustres which is the official guest house for Presidents of Colombia located on the Bay of Cartagena.
The house is built on the site of a colonial fort constructed primarily of coral stone. The contrast of the old walls with the view of the modern city was striking.
A charming horse-drawn carriage ride through the old town delivered us to Casa San Agustin Hotel for a lovely dinner at Alma Restaurant.
Our last day in Cartagena offered a tour of the Botanical Garden of Cartagena Guillermo Pineres to view more than 300 plant species including this Pelican Flower that only blooms for one day.
The design details were as interesting as the menu at the restaurant El Gobernador by Rausch located inside the lovely Bastion Hotel.
A quick flight took us to Santa Fe de Bogota high in the Andes Mountains. The capital city of Colombia, Bogotá was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1538 and is set at 8,500 feet above sea level. A visit to the Gold Museum is a must to see more than 55,000 pieces of gold along with major artifacts from the pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. You will also want to allow extra time to shop in their multi-level, extensive gift shop.
Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero donated not only a large selection of his paintings but also paintings by Picasso, Chagall, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Miro and many others from his personal collection for this fascinating museum housed in a beautiful colonial structure. You just can’t help but smile when you view Botero’s robust paintings and sculptures of proportionally exaggerated volume.
The Savannah around Bogotá has a relatively mild climate and consistently receives approximately 12 hours of sunlight a day which has allowed Colombia to become the 2nd largest flower industry in the world behind the Netherlands. 3 out of every 4 cut flowers in the US are imported from Colombia who exports flowers to 88 different countries. We enjoyed visiting the impressive greenhouses and gardens of Flores la Conchita to gain insight into the propagating, growing, packing, and shipping of flowers.
The sculpture, water features and incredible plant specimens of their magical gardens rival any garden you could visit around the world.
Our hosts treated us to the most delightful lunch on the grounds with undoubtedly the most unique dessert presentation I have ever seen of frozen exotic tropical fruits each filled with flavored gelato. Absolutely delicious!
Photos cannot do justice to the amazing majesty of the underground Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira just outside of Bogotá. Built within the tunnels of a salt mine and designed by architect Roswell Garavito Pearl, I couldn’t help but think of it’s similarity to many of James Turrell’s wonderful installations.
Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to visit Colombia and enjoy the vibrant colors and textures of this historic country as well as its and warm and friendly people. Their optimism for the future is contagious, the food and culture of the country are remarkable, and the landscapes are breathtaking. Viva Colombia!
“An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.” – Fernando Botero