As recently as this morning when we were sitting in the restaurant at breakfast looking over Cartagena, Spain, I confidently told everyone who asked that I had never been there before. I remembered going to Cartagena, Colombia several times but I was sure I had never been to the one in Spain. Susan thought she might have been there with her cousin Anita before we met. We decided to skip our included tour which required two hours on the bus and just to wonder around town on our own. As soon as I got into town, several things reminded me of someplace I had been before, and that someplace was Cartagena, Spain on the Celebrity transatlantic crossing several years ago. There are even a few pictures in the blog from that crossing to prove it. How embarrassing!!!
Those of you who have been following the blog from the beginning may remember that we have a serious addiction problem: salmorejo or Andalusian gazpacho. It is made with tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and vinegar with garnishes of ham and hard boiled eggs. One of our goals in town was to have salmorejo for lunch. You find it everywhere around Seville, but it is harder to find in the rest of Spain. We checked the menu in restaurant after restaurant, but no luck until we found one with salmorejo “shots”. After some discussion with the waiter, we arranged for salmorejo “grande” with all the proper garnishes. It was delicious and our addiction problem is resolved until our next stop in Spain tomorrow.
The trauma occurred at dinner last night. We were eating dinner in the restaurant as we sailed toward Cartagena. Suddenly the ship started to vibrate and make unusual noises. The next thing I knew my chair was sliding across the floor as the ship listed to the starboard side and dishes crashed to the floor in the galley area. After what seemed like forever, but was only a couple minutes, the ship went back to normal – the vibration stopped, the noises stopped and the ship became level again. There was no screaming, but everyone wondered what had happened. Soon the captain came on the PA to announce that they had to make a sharp turn to avoid a fishing boat that had sailed in front of us to protect his fishing nets. We learned later that many wine bottles and glasses fell to the floor in the lounge and many plates and some food slid to the floor in the buffet. It was probably much more traumatic for the captain than for us.
Cartagena is a beautiful town to walk around in with many pedestrian streets paved with granite tiles.There were many sculptures scattered around town. This one was especially whimsical.We visited the Punic wall which was a defensive wall built by the Carthaginians in the third century BCE. The wall consisted of two parallel walls ten feet high and sixteen feet apart. The remains are shown above.The crypt of St. Joseph shown above was located at the same place as the wall. It dates to the 13th century CE and was apparently where defeated gladiators found their final resting place. No word on whether the bones and skull are from real gladiators. Cartagena is full of ancient archeological sites and several of them are built one over the other.This elevator takes you up to a castle on top of the highest hill in town. By the time we got there, the blue sky in the earlier pictures had disappeared and the fog was rolling in from the ocean, so no good pictures up there.One of the highlights in town is the remains of this Roman Amphitheater. The seats had been carved from the natural rock of the hill side. This Amphitheater was built in the first century BCE and was only recently discovered with the ruins of an old Spanish church built over part of it.What appears to be a new building next to the Amphitheater is really only a facade apparently built to conceal another archaeological site behind it. There are a lot of facades like this throughout the town.No story here except that I like tree roots, palm trees, unusual statues in unexpected places, and harbors. Our ship is in the background.