France to Denmark April-May 2016

Normandy  |  Normandy 2  |  Monte Carlo - Monaco  |  Ibiza  |  Cartagena  |  Malaga  |  Gibraltar  |  Portimao  
  Lisbon  |  Porto  |  Coruna  |  Cherbourg  |  Rouen Day 1  |  Rouen Day 2  |  Cruising the Seine  |  Belgium  

  Amsterdam  |  North Sea Canal  |  Travemunde/Lubeck, Germany   |  Fredericia, Denmark   

4/26/2016
CARTAGENA

Another harbor city, heavily fortified from forever (like 200 B.C.). There is a large military presence even today.

HarborOur driver first took us for a ride to the countryside. The valleys are green with crops and reminiscent of the Central Valley in California (with similar water shortages). There are lots of pines, eucalyptus trees and paddle cactus, very much like Southern California. plus We drove past an area scarred with remnants of mines: iron, zinc, and lead. Today, the mines are closed although they were active until a couple of decades ago when Greenpeace targeted the facilities. It seems that the mines had been dumping the untreated spoils into the nearby ocean! In a bay just a couple of coves away from the old mining area we saw a fish farm that raises tuna for export to Japan. I suppose the locals were merely helping the Japanese by shipping both the fish and the raw material for the cans.

Roman AphitheaterWe returned to downtown Cartagena. The city was built on five fortified hills. The hilltop fortifications were to protect them against their neighbors and the Berber pirates. What′s interesting is that this area, as opposed to Ibiza, had a strong Roman past and the ruins to prove it. In the Thirties, while excavating to build a new handicraft center, the ruins of a Roman amphitheater were discovered. The amphitheater stands in the center of the downtown area today. Amusingly, in the center right of the photo is a rectangular white building. It′s an apartment house and although the picture is too small to see this, one of the top floor apartment windows, right next to this amazing Roman ruin, had laundry hanging out of it. What a crazy juxtaposition of old and new.

Vacant LotThe downtown is spacious, with ornate buildings all around. However, the visual presence is marred by multiple vacant lots in the middle of active commercial amid residential structures. These empty spaces are the result of the Spanish Civil War of the Thirties where homes were bombed and the lots never built on. Further, immigrants from other countries have moved into the spacious apartments in the city and are subletting any available space a room at a time to other immigrants. The local law does not make it easy for the owner to evict. With the mines now closed the economic base of Cartagena shifted to tourism and land in the city center is not worth redeveloping at present.

Lounging in a special chairTravel is seldom easy. This is our second cruise on a line that we are comfortable with. We booked a suite a number of months ago and thought it was the same suite as our earlier trip. It was not. It′s a very nice suite, but smaller than our first one, and has no really comfortable seating to read or relax in. I asked Guest Services for some help. It turns out that an earlier passenger who was on a long voyage had the same issue with the chairs and sofa. So what he did was buy a chair at one of the ports, had it shipped to his cabin, and used it for the rest of his trip (talk about taking charge!). That chair was left on board and is now in our suite for the rest of our journey (it′s the one I′m sitting on with a leg rest; the white chair to the right, and the sofa, aren′t really comfortable).




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