Friday, June 24, 2016

Cartagena | Spain

Our first cruise port was Cartagena, Spain. I tried to find information on this cruise port to see if we could make a plan without needing a tour guide and I could find a very limited amount of information. I had tried to book an excursion through the cruise, but they were sold out when we were looking. Eventually I was able to add us to a waitlist for a tour and by the time we checked into our cruise, we had been confirmed for the excursion. Otherwise we were just going to wing it, but we were grateful for the excursion.

The cruise ship arrived into this port late in the day, around noon, so our excursion was only a few hours long. It started with us having to meet in the theater of the cruise in order for us to get on a bus for our excursion. Once we were on the bus, we drove around Cartagena and heard about the history of the city. We were then dropped off at the punic wall to explore. The punic wall was the wall that surrounded the city way back in Roman times. The city was surrounded by water on three sides and on the last side they built a wall to protect the city. The original entrance to the wall is what we saw because this was the strongest part of the original wall which is why it is still standing.

^^This gate used to be the entrance to an orphanage.^^
^^The brown brick wall is a replica of what the wall would have looked like if it was still standing.^^
^^On the left is what remains of the original wall.^^
^^This was a crypt that was found inside the wall that still has bones from bodies that used to be there.^^
Once we were done seeing the punic wall, we were brought to the main area of town and from there we walked for the rest of the tour. The next place we went was my favorite part. We were brought to a Roman theater that was only discovered in the last 30 years. Before that, there were houses and other buildings built on top of the theater so no one knew it was there. They found it when one of the houses was being torn down and they found some of the stairs underneath the house. It is crazy to me that there was this giant theater just hidden since the second century.
^^On the left is the city hall building and the pink building on the right is where we entered to see the Roman theater.^^
^^On the left is a model of what the theater would have looked like back when it was being used. On the right are parts of the pillars that used to stand in the back of the theater.^^

^^A lot of the pillars were torn down and used to create new buildings not long after the theater stopped being used. When the theater was discovered they pieced the pillars back together so you could get a sense of what it used to look like.^^


Once we were done with the theater, we continued to walk around the town and learn about its different history. I am not gonna lie; at this point of the tour I was pretty much over the history lesson so I sort of checked out. The building below was modeled after the architecture that we saw in Barcelona and the tree was fun looking and is common in this area.
When we were done with our history of the city, we had to climb a rather large and steep hill to get to the castle that overlooked the whole city. It was quite the hike, but not too bad, although we had some people on the tour with us that slowed down the group quite a bit. At the top of the hill we had the views below where we could see the old Roman arena that they are renovating currently.
We then continued walking until we arrived at the castle and then went into the castle to get some great views of the city. We could see everything from up there (including our mega cruise ship). The views were definitely worth the hike. Richard took a bunch of panoramic pictures and by the end our trip he had mastered them, ha!
Once we had seen enough of the views, we decided to ditch our tour group because they were slow moving and all we had left to do was head to the ship. So we left before they did in search of either coffee or wifi. There was essentially no wifi on the cruise ship (we had to pay almost $1 per minute to use it) so we wanted to check email and social media and post a picture in the 30 minutes we had before we had to get back on the ship. We ended up at a Burger King because it was close to the ship and they had free wifi. Score. totally worth having to buy the ice cream shake.

I did not really have high expectations of Cartagena and I was surprised how much I enjoyed the tour. While we will probably never come back to this city, it was still fun to explore for a few hours.

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