We arrived in Cartagena last summer after some engine issues had hampered us for several passages and caused a few unscheduled stops, as well as more than a few hours bobbing around trying to fix it (you can read about those incidents, and others, in our blog posts: 31. Crisis on the Costa Blanca (Part One…) Almerimar – Garrucha, 32. Well, It’s Never Dull, Is It?! and 33. Crisis on the Costa Blanca (Part 2…) Garrucha – Cartagena).
Having spent far too long in Almerimar along the coast, it was a real relief to finally be in a real place – a city, no less! (albeit a small city). There are two marinas here that accept recreational yachts, and we chose Yacht Port Cartagena – mostly due to its finger pontoons which make it much easier to get Hugo, Bella and the bike off and on the boat, but it also has good security and is slightly more out of the way of passersby and cruise ship passengers (the cruise ships dock on the sea wall just outside of both of the marinas, and the passengers all walk past the other marina as they disembark). As well as the two ‘sport’ marinas, there is also a large container port, a fishing port, a small private fishing port, and one of the largest naval shipyards in Spain, including a submarine fleet. We’re also getting regular visits from the two “A” Yachts: Yacht A, and Sailing Yacht A. Sailing Yacht A is currently in for repairs, so is a standing feature of the bay. It’s nice to have a daily reminder that money doesn’t buy taste, if nothing else….
The marina is close to the town, and it seems there is always something going on. The two biggest events of the year (and in fact they have both been declared to be of “International Tourist Interest” which sounds quite impressive…) are the Festival of Carthaginians and Romans (Fiesta de Carthagineses y Romanos) and Holy Week (Semana Santa). The latter is celebrated all over Spain – and indeed the Catholic world, but the former is unique to Cartagena and is really worth seeing! We’ll be covering it in a different post as it’s really too big a thing not to have its own write-up, but it is basically a 10-day commemoration of the Second Punic War (a war between the two biggest powers of the time: Rome and Carthage). There are mock battles, sea battles, parades, sacred fires, more parades, troops, legions, more parades, elaborate costumes, reenactments, and yet more parades! We’ll also be covering Semana Santa (it’s happening this week as I write!) – we have seen this in other cities over the last couple of years, but this will be our first Easter in Cartagena, and it sounds like this one isn’t to be missed! There are apparently several unique features here. At the very least there will be opportunities to see the parades, outfits, and an awful lot of religious ikons…
Hugo has started at a nursery here – we try and enrol him in one when we are in one place for a period of time and he seems to really enjoy it, as well as getting a break from us, having some fun play time with the other kids, and learning Spanish (in fact, he so far only speaks Spanish… But of course, he is a born and bred Spaniard…). It also has the benefit that they do lots of REALLY messy activities there, which we then don’t feel bad about not doing on the boat!!
Jamie flies back to the UK during the week for work, but we ensure our weekends are full – we have a rental car and make the most of going new places as well as exploring the local area. We’ve taken trips to Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, and Marbella amongst others, and locally there is Murcia, Mazarron, Cabo de Palos, and the Mar Menor. There are also great walks – Cartagena city is surrounded by 5 hills which all provide great views of the city and harbour, so we usually do a hike up one of those every couple of weeks. Neither of us have yet been lucky(?!) enough to get a place in the “Ruta de las Fortalezas” though – an annual trail run of all 5 hills, which draws in people from all over the country!
We have explored many coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and museums. There is a huge amount of history here, and most of it – like the huge Roman Theatre – was only discovered in the late 1980’s! There are still live archeological digs happening in the city centre, which is really cool to see – must be a very exciting place to be an archaeologist! There is also almost as much eating and drinking to be done – we have found many amazing cake shops, coffee shops (Cartagena has its own coffee style; the Asiatico – we’ll be blogging about coffee and cake soon!), and restaurants ranging from a spit-and-sawdust market hall affair, to a Michelin-starred extravaganza!
Anyway, we’ll be blogging about both Cartagena, and our trips to other places in Spain, as well as our ongoing (if a little timescale-relaxed) travels (there are a few exciting trips in the pipeline!).
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