Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day trip To Cartagena

Yesterday on the spur of the moment we decided to go down to Cartagena on the Costa Calida. Its one of those places we have been meaning to visit ever since we moved to the area. It’s about 60 KM from here and a nice little run either by the motorway or the 332.
Cartagena has been a major sea port for centuries and has a fascinating history. It is a walled town and has a fine harbour defended by forts. In the time of Philip II of Spain, it was a major naval seaport of Spain. It is still an important naval seaport, the main military haven of Spain, and there is a big naval shipyard. Cartagena had a population of 211,286 in 2007, making it the second largest city in the Region, the 6th among the non-province capitals of Spain, and the 24th overall.
For all that it has a charming old quarter and many free to enter museums. So much to see in fact we are already planning another day there.
We were quite astonished by the style of the buildings and the fact that there seems to be a concerted effort to save the facades where the building is beyond repair. There is also an abundance of cafes and restaurants with menus at very reasonable prices. We had a lovely meal, real home style cooking and regional dishes and only 8 euros for 3 courses salad and a drink.
On the way back we called in at Mar Menor, another place we have always meant to visit. Mar Menor is a salty lagoon separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a sand bar 22km in length and with a variable width from 100 to 1200m. It belongs to four municipalities including Cartagena. In 1994 it was included on the list of the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. It is also a one of the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) by the United Nations.
If you take a drive down do look out for the remains of the windmills, they are all over the place with a very few still intact. Can you imagine what it must have looked like in past times, very Don Quixote. Before the arrival of modern technology the turning sails of the windmills could be seen at almost every place where a small hill rose in the flat plain. With the arrival of electricity and new machinery, the old windmills were allowed to decay and many now are not much more than circular heaps of stones. However, the picture is not completely black and there plenty of enthusiasts who love the windmills and are working to restore them. Interest in the history of the windmills is very high amongst local people.

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