A breezy day in Cartagena, located in the Murcia Region in Spain. It was not my first visit there, and last time I toured the relatively recently discovered Roman ruins, this time I decided to spend the day sightseeing on my own, and discover many of the delightful nooks and crannies.
The ship did not dock within walking distance of the city centre, but the town graciously provided a frequent and free shuttle service.
A long maritime past and many cultures have left an imprint and a rich heritage that the locals are very proud of, and are hoping the rest of the world will continue to discover. It is a city with a spectacular waterfront, the recently discovered Roman ruins that date back about three thousand years, potential digs for more treasures, friendly locals, and better marketing, makes Cartagena the perfect place to visit.
Since my last visit, the town has been discovered and has become a tourist destination. My first time there, there was one wonderful souvenir boutique, the Submarine Shop, that sold local wines, local pottery and other wine related items. There were a couple of the the obligatory flamenco dolls, ashtrays, all the touristy trinkets, but the Submarine Shop stood out in their offerings.
This time as one entered the main square from the waterfront, there were temporary boutiques set up all along the street, and many other shops peppered the main street, along with many shoppers.
The Roman Theatre is a must see, along with some terrific Art Nouveau architecture, like the Grand Hotel, the Casino and City Hall to name just a few. The ruins have seriously put Cartagena on the tourist map, and that is excellent news.
Funds are needed for additional architectural digs and discoveries. As recently as 1987 they found remnants of the Punic wall, and other treasures that date back to Hannibal.
The question of further digs to discover more ruins is twofold, there are houses, businesses, and parks that rest on top of potential archeological treasures, and many who live on those sites would prefer to continue to do so, while others want the excavations to continue. It is not so easy to start digging, yet the sense of history and preservation is desirable, and besides ancient ruins tend to bring tourists in, and of course that builds the economy, but as always there are many sides to every issue.
Along with the recent discoveries, fortunately for Cartagena, they have a wonderful moderate climate, reasonable prices, and lovely beaches to motivate the tourist industry.
I joined the locals in a glorious paseo, the wonderful Spanish tradition of a leisurely stroll on the boulevard. The plaza is just down the street from the beautiful waterfront, after logging a few miles, I sat down in a cafe and enjoyed my obligatory coffee and the view, even a bit of rain did not mar the wonderful day.
The problem with sitting down after walking a lot, is the getting up part. Reluctantly after a delicious cafe con leche, I made it back to the shuttle stop, and by the time I boarded the ship even dinner was an effort, but I persevered.
Happy travels, wherever they may take you.
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