Cartagena, Spain - April 17, 2015
When planning for the trip there were some ports that we knew exactly what we wanted to do and others we weren't sure. Cartagena was a port that I really didn't research much so we decided to play it be ear and decide what to do when we got there. Good call - we had a wonderful day poking around at our own pace.
We got off the ship early, walked across the street and we were in town. I love when we dock right in the city. The ms Amsterdam was pulling in to the dock as we were heading to town. The Amsterdam has the world voyage (they get on in January and off at the end of April) passengers on it now. I read a couple blogs from people on the ship.
Cartagena is a very old city (founded 227 BC) and has been one of the most important naval ports in the region and defensive harbours in the Mediterranean since the 16th century.
We bought a ticket to see 4 attractions that we could easily walk to. The first stop was the Roman Theatre Museum. A fascinating museum which leads you around artifacts, through a tunnel under a church and when you come out - voila a spectacular roman amphitheater that has been restored. The theatre dates to the first century BC and over the years, other buildings were built on top of it and adjoining it. It was only re-discovered in 1988. In its day (late first century BC) it was used for entertainment, political purposes and for worship. We could go right on to the stage (James did a performance) and all the way up to the various levels of seats. We kept climbing higher and higher - the views were spectacular - until we reached Castillo de la Conception (Conception Castle). Here we could climb even higher - great views of our ship and the ms Amsterdam. There were peacocks and a DaVinci exhibit - not related, they both just came to mind. The castle dates back to the thirteenth century. It was abandoned and restoration started in 2010.
Most people take the lift to the castle but we just kept climbing up on our own. We took the lift down to street level and visited more ruins at the District of the Roman Forum. A fascinating glimpse at what was the ancient city of Carthago Nova (209 BC) - now Cartagena. The area shows two blocks of an ancient site. The site has thermal baths and an atrium building with banquet halls. There were archeologists working on the site. It was really cool.
After getting our history in, we did some shopping. We found a great store that sold items from local artisans. Then we sat in the sun to enjoy some Iberico (Iberian) ham and wine. Iberco is cured ham from a specific type of black pig with black hooves. They only eat acorns and therefore, we are told, it is healthy - even the fat according to the locals. It is delicious but it is slightly odd to sit down with a plate of cured ham and 4 little bits of bread...some olives and cheese would have gone nicely! The guy carves a big cured pig leg (hoof on) right on the front counter. Things are pretty cheap here - especially shoes but I didn't buy any.
We had a fabulous sail away from Cartagena with tapas and sangria on the ship. Except I got some red wine on my white pants. I'm testing out my Tide to Go pen. A delicious dinner at the Tamarind restaurant, a comedy show and a trip to the spa rounded out another great day.
You can have laundry done on the ship. All you can stuff in to the bag for $20. We stuffed!