Cartagena – My Kind of Town!

The beautiful square that I remembered being in Lisbon. Well, it is beautiful in Cartagena!

Okay, this is one of my favorite cities.  My favorite so far in Spain.  And I have an embarrassing revelation.  We were here several years ago on a cruise.  We stopped in Lisbon and I fell in love and knew we had to come back.  I have one special memory of sitting on a beautifully tiled street, sipping hot chocolate and having one of those supremely happy moments.  We walked right off the boat and into this spot of heaven.  When we went to Lisbon, I hiked all over the place trying to find that spot – to no avail.

Now I know why.  It was in Cartagena and not Lisbon!  I had liked both cities so much that I blended them together and made the perfect paradise.  I was thrilled to find the spot of my memories and really shocked that I was in the wrong city.  Geez.

Yesterday was marred by my self-induced pity party.  George felt badly about it, and I felt lousy that I had made him feel bad.  He cannot help it and is trying his best to enjoy, and let me enjoy, this trip.  I determined to be a better person.  I didn’t know it, but he didn’t take his new medication that fatigues him so much.  He wanted to have more energy for me.  And it did work, so we had a super nice day, but I felt bad when he told me later.

The world’s cheapest Hop It Again Bus is in Cartagena.  It only costs 6 Euros.  That’s because there is no place to hop off.  They only make one stop, and it is one block before the place we got on.  But it is a nice 40 minute ride, and we enjoyed it.  The streets have trees and the buildings are covered with fancy iron balconies.

Cartagena is gorgeous and history abounds everywhere you look.  I know I am an amphitheater nerd, but they have a wonderful one right in town, complete with a wonderful museum.  First you tour the museum and then it lets you out right into the old amphitheater.  I was kind of startled to see that they are filling in missing areas with composite reconstructions.  It seems sad to alter what is left, but then again, it will probably be used to hold concerts and events.  Truthfully, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Isn’t it grand? Wow, what a sight, site, however you want to spell it!  You can see where they have replaced the steps with concrete, and the stage has new flooring.  But it does allow people to view it up close.  There are signs asking that the original stones not be touched.

I admit to being emotionally affected by the amphitheater.  Standing on the stage and knowing that 2,000 years ago, the theatre was filled with thousands of residents, watching a performance.  There wasn’t a chance in the world there was a woman on stage, but none the less, the sense of history surrounded me.  Did anyone in the audience think that a woman from a continent unknown would be standing on the stage 2,000 years into the future?  A bit embarrassed, my eyes got teary as I thought of the history of this site.  And I am lucky enough to share a piece of it.

While I’m blinking back tears like a post-menopausal whacko, there are all sorts of people enjoying (or sitting bored while their family explores) the spot.  Inevitably, in locations of picture opportunities, there are young girls dressed to the hilt, posing like models.  Their friends, equally decked out, busily take shots until it is their turn.  It is the same around the world, and I always get a kick out of watching them.

A gleeful selfie from the stage


George had orders to gleeful and overjoyed. Not bad for him! The thumbs help.
If I lived in Cartagena, this would be my apartment. Overlooks the amphitheatre.

The weather was perfect, in the high 70’s.  The sun was shining, my mood was better and George actually went to some things with me.  We strolled the streets, drank the best hot chocolate in the world, and had a great lunch.  Big salad for me and George had paella, which is the national dish around here.  He loved it.

George’s paella. This is his happy face.

In the States, we always have this controversy about when to display Christmas decorations and start selling all the commercial stuff.  Not so in Spain.  They unapologetically start decorating the day after Halloween.  November 1st is the official start of the Yuletide.  As a person who could celebrate Christmas year round, this makes perfect sense to me.

If you know me, you know I have an unabashed enthusiasm for the Dollar Store.  I do love cheap junk.  My cart loaded, I will find a use for it somewhere, some day.  And I found the Spanish equivalent in Cartagena!  Another reason to love this city.  Not only is it filled with Christmas decorations and a huge mishmash of useless items, but a large section of the store floor is glass, and showcases the Roman foundations of ancient buildings and streets below.  Oh my goodness, two of my favorite things in one spot.  Useless junk and priceless Roman history.  It cannot possibly get better.  George knew he had lost me, so he found a spot to sit and read his book.

I saw the one Euro signs from a distance, and knew this was going to be my store.
Can you believe a Dollar Store with Roman ruins as the flooring? It was like this store had all of my dreams. Totally worthless items sitting on top of the best engineering the world has had to offer. If you look carefully, you can see the Roman road.

Just in case your are interested in buying a home in Cartagena, this is an advertisement from a local realtor:

$88,500 Euros buys you a two bedroom, two bath condo with a garage.  Not bad compared to our prices!

Some days are so good.  There just aren’t words….


Author: Traveling Grandma

As an aging mother of six and grandma to seven, travel was always a dream. Diapers, work and an eccentric high-maintenance husband just seemed to keep those trips a distant desire. Eventually, however, the kids potty trained, lived through the teenage angst years and left the nest to start their own families. Work still gets in the way for my husband, but it does help pay for the trips! Can't do much about the eccentric, high-maintenance husband; after 36 years I have reconciled that he will never pick up his underwear. He's my partner for life, travel companion and can always be counted on to do something totally odd. It makes for a good story, and besides - without his major financial contribution, we would sitting at home year after year, watching yet another rerun of NCIS. Due to a major health scare, I recently retired - and love retirement! I have always LOVED to cook. My love of food, and birthing those babies, led to an 85 pound weight gain. After joining a weight loss program, I shed the weight, went to work for them and found a new career. For me, it was a dream job. How many people can say they loved their job? I got to work together with people and help them live a healthy lifestyle, and lose weight. And it changed the way I cook! Instead of coating foods with fat and/or sugar, I've learned to bring out the real flavor in foods and keep them healthy. It's a joy to travel the world and explore new foods. I'm always on the lookout for different foods and willing to try almost anything. George, my husband, is always aghast at my choices. He's looking for a McDonald's while I'm trying to find the best local eatery. Checking out grocery stores and food forums in different countries is endless fun. Bringing back cooking ingredients keeps the memories alive every time they are used in a recipe back home. Paprika from Budapest, Sumac from Turkey, dried squid from Japan....what a lucky person I am to experience it all. Life is interesting everywhere, and there is always something humorous to be found, even in my own backyard of Mt Hood, Oregon. I love to journal and people have been telling me for years to become a writer. As Medicare is now a prominent part of my life, I figured this was as good a time as any. If I don't do it now, I'll be writing stories about my neighbors in the nursing home. A big trip will probably be whacking along in my walker to the day room to watch the Travel Channel. I take heart that Colonel Sanders started his finger lickin' fortune late in life because he wasn't afraid to try something new. So here I go!

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