Discovering Cartagena

Trip Start Nov 25, 2009
Trip End Dec 13, 2009

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Flag of Spain  , Murcia,
Monday, November 30, 2009

We woke up the next morning as we were sailing into the harbor of our first port of call, Cartagena, a naval port city in the Murcia region in southeastern Spain. We got ready and went up to the Windjammer for breakfast and to watch as we docked. The city was really pretty and we were excited to start exploring. Breakfast wasn't bad either. I love fresh fruit in winter!

We left the ship and realized that it was the first time we were at ground level next to the ship: it is enormous! We walked along the fantastic harbor and admired the many ships and boats. At the exit of the harbor is the Peral submarine, one of the first submarines, that dates from 1888 (it was invented by Isaac Peral, a native of Cartagena). We continued through the city past the magnificent modernist buildings of the City Hall, Casino, and Gran Hotel. We walked along some pedestrian streets and stopped in a few small shops to browse for souvenirs. I had read online that many of the main tourist sites were to be closed on Mondays which happened to be the day we were in port so we had nothing specific on our itinerary for the day. We wandered around the city which was so quiet compared to Barcelona, especially once we had left the cruise crowd behind. We walked through a few small square with sculptures, fountains, and lots of beautiful flowers.

There is a castle in Cartagena called Castillo de la Concepcion in Parque Torres. Leisurely, we were trying to make it to this castle, but ended up going all the way around it which was fine since we had a lot of time to spend and we were able to see a great deal of the 'real' city outside of the main tourist/port area. The castle is actually right in front of the exit to the harbor at the top of a hill. We walked to the left upon our exit which took us down the main street with the modernist buildings (which you shouldn't miss). There is a tourist elevator available to get to the top of the hill, but we opted to walk up the hill into Parque Torres. The trees and flowers along the way were beautiful and we saw several peacocks roaming the grounds.

The view from the castle was amazing, but it is not a castle as one may imagine a castle to look. In fact, I didn't see anything 'castle' about the place. There was a staircase or two that looked very old and there were some excavations going on, but primarily there is a building which houses the Centro de Interpretación de la Historia de Cartagena (Center of Interpretation of the History of Cartagena) which we did not visit. To the right of this, however, is a terrace from which you can get a magnificent view of Cartagena, the port, and the sea beyond. Fantastic! It was an absolutely wonderful day weather-wise so the views were amazing. There is an ancient Roman theater which can be seen from here (we didn't make it down there to go inside) and was quite interesting. You can also see the Punic walls that still remain on one side of the city.

After leaving the 'castle' we decided to head back to the ship for lunch and a quick rest. We went back into the city in the afternoon and walked along the seaside promenade area which is a lovely walk. We headed back down the main street to find a grocery store for the snacks and then stopped in at a pub for a beer. Kyle decided that his souvenir of choice was going to be to find a beer
from the area we were visiting to try and then collect the bottles. He had found and liked Estrella while we were in Barcelona and had one at the pub here to keep the bottle. We sat outside and people-watched for awhile before heading back to the ship to get ready for sailaway and then dinner. We would have liked to have taken the harbor tour and went to the Roman Augusteum to see the excavations and artifacts, but these things were closed on Monday. Overall, Cartagena is a nice port of call with unique architecture, a laid-back vibe, and beautiful scenery during sailaway.
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