Friday, December 4, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009 – Cartagena, Spain – Partly Cloudy – 54F

Cartagena, Spain is a very pretty port city on the Mediterranean Sea. It is also the Mediterranean Headquarters of the Spanish Navy (a long way from the feared Spanish Armada). The VOTS is docked and is the only ship here today.

VOTS Cartagena

Looking at the harbor, it looks like it was a pretty tricky docking process. The population of this city is approximately 211,000.

We were not able to get an excursion today so , with the decent weather, we are just going to explore the city and maybe do some shopping.

The pier area looks like it has been updated recently with the area sporting apartments, restaurants, and a nice marina.

Cartagena from ship

View of Cartagena from the ship

Cartagena Spain harbor

The marina and stores at the harbor

Another site visible from the ship but not as easily from the ground is the Concepcion Castle – the remains of a fortress that used to protect this city – it is now part of the Torres Park. You can pick it up in the center of the panoramic shot of the city

Cartagena - Concepcion Castle dig in center

Concepcion Castle (center of picture)

The city is only a few minutes away. There were a number of very interesting sites on our way to the actual city. The first was a tiny submarine named the “Isaac Peral”, which is now part of a fountain.

Isaac Perla Submarine

Peral Submarine (VOTS is in the background)

Based on the size of the sub, this ship would have to be manned by munchkins. Another thing, I could see any doors or portholes on the submarine – maybe they were removed when the sub was turned into a fountain.

There are several bronze statues at the entrance to Cartagena. One huge statue (reminded me of the Hulk) was one of a sitting man. The photo does not really reflect the size of this statue

Crounching Man statue - huge

Several other statues seem to depict ordinary people doing ordinary things. We decided to pose with one of these metallic citizens.

posing w statue in park

As you enter the city you pass by the famous Sea Wall of Cartagena

Sea Wall and sculpture park

built by King Carlos III in the 1700s. Today, it also contains a sculpture park filled with familiar and esoteric objects. Near the Sea Wall is the Square of Heroes (a war monument even though Christopher Colom is also present on the obelisk)

Square of Heroes

Square of Heroes

The streets of Cartagena are filled with restaurant, bars, and nice shops. The streets reminded me of some of the streets in Barcelona without the upscale shops. The streets are clean and the buildings look relatively new.

Cartagena main street

Cartagena Main Street – Calle Del Carmen

Right at the entrance to this street in the square is the Palacio Consistorial – the Old Town Hall. The building, originally dedicated in 1907, is now fully restored and houses a tourist information center in the lobby.

Palacio Consistorial

Palacio Consistorial – Old Town Hall

We walked about half of the total length of the city, looking for souvenirs and pins for the kids as sell as a post office to mail postcards. Then back to the ship for lunch.

After lunch, we were back in Cartagena still looking for a post office . Along the way, we came across an interesting archeological site

Archeo Dig 1

that had no signs or markings.

As it turned out, despite several directions from locals, the post office was never found. We met a group of local girls who volunteered to lead us back to the pier where a mail box was. A strange process, but we followed them (about 10 feet behind the four of them) right back to where we started and the post cards were sent on their way

Postcards away

Mailboxes in Cartagena

We checked in with the head waiter who, after some discussion, with several people, assigned to a table for four but blocked for two. The table had a great location, the middle level Dining Room (La Boheme) against the railing and not near the kitchen.

After dinner, we went to the Headliner show in the La Scala - “American Dream” a Tribute to Motown. The act, a kind of Gladys Knight and the Pips

American Dream Singing group

American Dream – Motown and More

They were great…I could watch a lead singer and synchronized backup singers are night – it never grows old. They all had good voices and the crowd really liked them.

After the show, we listed to Ian West in the Schooner Bar for a few minutes – the smoke is a problem in that venue.

Smooth Seas – early wakeup call for me (6:15 AM) – My first lecture is tomorrow morning.

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