Legendary Luxury Journeys by Train – Belmond Pullman Cars – Step Aboard a Living Legend.

I am obsessed with the Belmond Pullman Train Journeys and haven’t yet plotted to reserve a cross country adventure; creating my itinerary for my upcoming London visit, a light bulb moment, Belmond has day Journeys to Country Gardens, Highclere Castle, the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Moving Murder Mysteries, a long list of elegant entertainment on board the British Pullman Train.

Their schedule divulged a Journey, on Mother’s Day!  What could be better? An elegant afternoon within the unique train atmosphere for a Champagne Afternoon Tea! A bubbly day with savories, tea, amid a round-trip through Britain’s beautiful countryside.

Throughout the twentieth century, the Belmond trains have held a distinguished role in the art of continental travel. With grand interiors and chilled cocktails and flowing champagne, they pioneered the most magnificent mode of transport to tour Europe and her finest cities. Each car is a modern masterwork of vintage revivalism, seamlessly blending belle époque luxe​​​​​ with the stylish art deco adornments of interwar Britain.

My Confirmation Promise: Soon you will be transported back to the Golden Age of Travel, to savor impeccable service, exceptional Champagne, and the finest British seasonal produce, all within the splendid surroundings of your authentic Art Deco carriage.  Expect luxury, glamour, and a dash of adventure on an unforgettable outing through the British countryside.

Dress to Impress for an effervescent Journey through Kent, indulging in exquisite champagne and an irresistible afternoon tea.

Board at Victoria Station: Welcome to your afternoon on Belmond British Pullman Minerva Carriage.  No two carriage is the same and each has a story of its own. Every carriage on board the British Pullman is brimming with history and each one has been lovingly restored to its former glory.

After boarding, you’ll be immersed in art deco opulence. A smartly uniformed steward will escort you to your private table, to sink into plush upholstered armchairs. Soak up the vintage details surrounding you.

As the train begins its Journey through greater London and into Kent, an exquisite array of savory delicacies and indulgent pastries will be served with refreshing tea and a bottle of bubbly. Relax, unwind, and appreciate the changing views.

My Carriage, Minerva, named for the Roman goddess of victory, wisdom, and battle, Minerva initially ran for two years on the all-Pullman Devon Belle luxury express line between London Waterloo and Devon, where it served as a first-class parlor car.

Minerva: First class parlor car, 26 seats, built 1927 by Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Co.  Joined the Devon Belle in 1947 and the Golden Arrow in 1951, being used in the special Festival of Britain rake. Often included in special trains for state visits and royal use in the early 50s.  She was put into storage during World War II and then refurbished in 1951 to join the Golden Arrow service as a parlor car.

As part of the Festival of Britain, train Minerva exclusively conveyed British royalty and visiting heads of state between Dover Marina and England’s capital city. In 1952, as part of the Golden Arrow, it carried guests along the English coast for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.   

Sleek, elegant, and faithful to its original décor Minerva carriage is characterized by its brass furnishings and sylvan color scheme—a subtle blend of viridian, taupe, and gold—as well as its polished veneer and Edwardian marquetry of fleur-de-lys motifs. Do you think this is a Tiara outing or will a couture fascinator be most appropriate?

In every British Pullman carriage, the washroom floors are encased with the breathtaking stone mosaics of the late British artist Marjory Knowles. In two respects, the inlays in Minerva’s washrooms are unique. First, they include the only incomplete mosaic on the train: a sepulchral rendering of the car’s eponymous deity, which remained unfinished at the time of Knowles’ death in 1998.  Second, they feature an original work by modern artist Aimee Harman, who also skillfully restored the mosaics in all eleven British Pullman cars and has since been commissioned for similar pieces on Belmond’s Northern Belle.  

In keeping with the spirit of the rich history, the travel documentation suggests: ‘One can never be overdressed on board.’ Pearls packed, I’ve scheduled an afternoon visit to the oldest hat shop in the World and the oldest British hat shop, Lock & Company Hatters to select the perfect Pillbox hat or a handmade couture headband!

With a history for hosting famed parties and intriguing guests, among them spies, authors, ambassadors and royalty, their Journeys have developed a reputation for memorable connections made over fine dining.

When plotting London, check dates for a Belmond Pullman Train Journey!

A Taste of Captivating Colombia.

Join my Journey this spring to Colombia. Mention Latin America and Colombia, and your first descriptions might be dazzling mountain peaks, coffee farms, salsa music, a cathedral made of salt, sunshine and most likely, a history of crime. Colombia has all of these. Its people are stylish and sophisticated, few countries have managed the turnaround rebranding achieved by Colombia achieved in the last 15 years. Headlines noting unstable politics and city crime are now in the past. Improved trade and a growing tourism market have transformed the image. Travel now before it becomes a tourist mecca. Like South America in miniature, Colombia is a lively pastiche of Andean cities, Amazon basin, stately haciendas, marvelous artists, and charming colonial towns.

I arrive Bogota and will head directly to the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina. The Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina entwines its 1940s colonial history with a splash of contemporary Colombia. A leafy suburban mansion set in the heart of the capital is an ideal retreat for those escaping the hustle and bustle of the city – settle down beside cozy fireplaces. Casa Medina is situated in the heart of Zona G, also known as the ‘gourmet zone’ of Bogotá. Within a one-mile radius there are more than a dozen restaurants and bars of a medium- to high-quality, situated in a safe area which is easy to explore on foot. Small details across the hotel pay homage to its founding architect, Santiago Medina, with stained-glass windows depicting a picture of birds and flowers – Medina’s passions. There are fireplaces in 16 of the 62 rooms, I’ve requested a cozy suite with fireplace.

Catching up from the trek from California, the first few days are filled with city touring and museum visits, including the historic La Candelaria where the two most noteworthy museums are the Gold & Botero Museums. Always schedule a Siesta in your planning!

After a few days of sightseeing and divine dining, head to the Coffee region to Hacienda Bambusa. Driving down the winding lane that leads to this hotel, you may feel like you’re approaching a working farm. What you actually come across is a carefully preserved, two-level hacienda that was the home of the Montoya family. Well-maintained gardens that are often busy with hummingbirds and farmland grazed by herds of white Cebu Brahman cattle encircle this intimate property.

Built around a tiny interior courtyard with a small fountain, the seven rooms face onto a balustraded gallery. They all have some outdoor space, and there are plenty of quiet corners in the gardens and by the swimming pool,

Many options include a classic day visiting the town of Salento as well as walk/hike, at whatever difficulty is comfortable in Corcora Valley.

Visit reborn city of Medellin. Venture out from Colombia’s second city to find a world in perpetual bloom. From its art and culinary scenes to the breathtaking Andes Mountains I can’t wait to experience the magic of Medellin.

The City of Eternal Spring – Known for its combination of warm days and cool nights, Medellin’s temperate climate in the Andes Mountains makes it an ideal destination year-round. From exploring this exciting city to adventuring out into the verdant countryside, soak in the incredible views. In Medellin, enchantment can be found around every corner, at every bend in the trail.

The Art of Medellin. In Medellin, guests are welcomed with open arms by paisas, as the locals are called. Wander to El Poblado to shop in the clothing boutiques filled with unique pieces made by Colombian designers. The grid of streets are overgrown in palms and gardens, cafes and chic shops. Don’t miss Makeno, a light flooded concept store that has approximately 100 Colombian fashion and accessory designers. A magical place where you can purchase high quality products with great design content. Visitors can check out Comuna 13 and its dynamic street art with a local artist, followed by contemporary fine art at the Medellin Museum of Modern Art. Medellin is the birthplace of Fernando Botero, his sculptures dot downtown and one can view the large collection of sketches and personal items he donated to the Antioquia Museum.

Siesta in Luxury – Of course, my team partners with the best five-star property in the city. Indulge in the luxury that Medellin offers while still experiencing the authenticity of the city and its people. I will be staying at El Cielo Hotel – of course, I have already reserved a table at the eponymous restaurant by superstar chef Juan Manuel Barrientos.

Perhaps more than anywhere else in Colombia today, Medellin is an example of just how far the country has come in the last 20 years –it has been recognized as one of the most innovative cities in the world. It is precisely this incredible transformation that makes Medellin a must for any visitor to Colombia looking to really appreciate and learn about the progress. Both the Festival of Flowers and the Christmas-time Festival of Lights are unique times to visit Medellin, with its beautifully mild climate, average 72 F, there really is not a bad time to visit what’s known as the “City of Eternal Spring.”

My team can curate an eight-day Journey which includes day trips to the small village of Santa Elena or up to 15 days.

Check out of Medellin for a drive out to Cannua Eco-Lodge. En route to Cannua, you’ll stop at the small town of Carmen de Viboral. Known for its local traditions of pottery making and ceramic art, Carmen de Viboral is a beautiful town whose buildings, monuments, and even their streetlights are adorned with unique ceramic pieces. Each wall of the town could have a mural, a ceramic design or even on its facade in an attempt to beautify the town while also paying respect to its generational tradition of ceramic artwork. 

Continue onto the small town of Marinilla to check in to the lodge Cannua. Cannua is an eco-lodge that opened its doors in late 2019 after many years of planning, studying the local environment, and employing the local community in its construction. With an emphasis on permaculture, Cannua was built within the nature, not on top of it.

Cannua Lodge

Optional tours that can be added onto your stay at Cannua: Rum, chocolate, and/or coffee tastings. Bird watching with an expert guide. Cheese-making with local farmers and livestock. Fuller day tours and hikes to Guatape, Carmen de Viboral, and other towns are available for those spending more time at Cannua.

Then, check out and transfer to Medellin airport for your flight onward to Cartagena.  Check in Casa San Agustin interesting places nearby the Hotel: Santo Toribio Church, Gold Museum, Inquisition Palace, Cathedral and old churches of Spanish Colonial era.

Arrive in time for a sunset cocktail at Café del Mar or one of the city’s rooftop bars is a great way to kick off your stay. The colorful streets are made for exploration on foot, so after breakfast you’ll meet your guide for a walking tour of the walled city center.

During your walk, we can arrange for an architect to join you and accompany you through the narrow and colorful alleys, to explain all the special characteristics of the monuments, churches, convents, and private houses that reflect all the influences – Moorish, colonial, military, Arabic, Spanish and North American – that have made Cartagena what it is today.

Before dinner, one of our favorite local bartenders will invite you to a tasting of several top-quality Caribbean rums. Rum is by far the most consumed alcohol in Latin America, and during the tasting you’ll also learn about the history of the spirit as well as the different styles and their origins. This is the perfect way to start a great evening in Cartagena!

Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Cartagena on your own. Or we can arrange additional exploration such as one of the favorite options: Explore the city’s art scene with a bilingual expert, focusing either on contemporary art museums and galleries. For shopaholics, a fashion specialist will get you special access to the top designers’ shops in Cartagena, featuring both Colombian and international designers.

Eat your way through Cartagena with tasting menus of typical dishes at four different restaurants. Or hit the traditional Bazurto market and then get to work in a Caribbean cooking class.

Explore Cartagena with an expert on the life of Gabriel García Marquez. Head out of the city to learn about the unique paso horses and go for a ride along the beach. The author of “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude” died in Mexico City, however in Colombia when he died, a marathon public reading of Garcia Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel took place at 1,400 public libraries. The Culture Ministry distributed 12,000 copies of the book for the occasion.

Gabriel García Marquez

Private Boat Island Hopping optional. Or, you may want to spend the entire day enjoying the Caribbean to its fullest.

The Rosario Islands are a coral reef comprising 27 islands, located about one hour by boat from Cartagena. Its natural landscapes, crystal clear water and coral reefs, home to diverse flora and fauna, are of course the main attraction.

Rosario Islands

Sail on a private motorboat or yacht, enjoy a joy ride and watch the Caribbean’s water as it changes color right in front of your eyes. You will stop at spots to snorkel and swim, as well as for lunch at one of our favorite rustic beach hotels. On board, your guide will have a choice of drinks and snacks for you as well! 

Until Next Time- check out and head home!