So as fun as a visit to the National Geographic Store in Knightsbridge (across the street from Harrods) might somehow be, I was not prepared for the sort of excitement generated during a recent “VIP cocktail party” celebrating National Geographic’s “Colombia in London” campaign. The event showcased some of Colombia’s most iconic sights and sounds – from traditional music to an authentic Barranquilla’s Carnival performance – along with a generous service of delicious cocktails and fresh juices and a veritable onslaught of irresistible canapés based upon traditional Colombian recipes.
To be fair, the Nat Geo shop is without doubt the sort of place someone like me should keep in mind. And by “like me”, I guess I mean anybody who’s into photography and has done a good bit of travelling but is still keen to keep exploring the world. During the party, I was ogling all sorts of cool stuff (books, travel accessories, clothing) that’d I’d love to own. It’s definitely a place I’ll be sure to visit a little nearer to Christmas and before any big trips. The shop’s cafe has a pleasant enough vibe too and – as at least was the case for this Colombian inspired evening – has the capacity to churn out some especially yummy food and drink.
Still, the vivid exuberance that took over that nice but essentially ordinary retail space absolutely blew me away … and zipped Colombia up from floating around somewhere on my “places to see” list to an absolute number one position with respect to where I really really really truly feel I must go soon. If that Barranquilla performance in a London store on a weekday night got me going, I can only imagine how much of a wow the real deal would be.
Yeah, Colombia’s been on my travel radar for some time. I mean, it’s the most biodiverse country in the world, with 3500 species of butterflies, a “coffee triangle” that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and a culture that oozes with Latin charm. Plus, they’ve got beaches on the Pacific and the Caribbean. The country’s come a long way since the cartel heyday of the 80s and 90s and has done much to shake off a bad reputation and make visitors know they are welcome and will be safe. They also know how to throw one helluva party and infuse wonder into an otherwise everyday setting.
More about Colombia and its “only risk” campaign: