24th June to 25th June
Jac and I decided to be brave and do another overnight to Cartagena. The wind had finally dropped to virtually nothing and we motor sailed all the way having left Almerimar and our friends Lou and Michael at 1130 in the morning. It was a tearful goodbye, (Jac and Lou) as we had had a great time with both of them and were already making tentative arrangements to meet again later in the year.
Our trip to Cartagena was uneventful until we were approaching the port, just before dawn broke, when we encountered a massive fishing fleet in the dark. With the boats all milling around in various directions it was a puzzle to weave our way through to reach the port, particularly as we had no idea how far their nets were dragging behind them. The sun rose which made the task easier and we were able to find our way through to tie up in the YPC Marina at 0745 in the morning.
Jac had had less sleep than I had so she then slept for 4 hours before we went exploring the town. These overnight runs are great but they leave one exhausted afterwards. Other cruising sailors tell us that you need at least 2 nights at sea to get settled into a 4 on 4 off watch system and adapt to getting sufficient sleep. We shall see!!
25th June to 29th June Cartagena
Attempting to reach Menorca by 6 July when Jac’s daughter, Sarah and her friend Claire were due to arrive, we had still decided to spend a day or two in Cartagena exploring. It turned out to be a fascinating place and surprisingly un-touristy considering its history, which dates back to the Carthaginians in around two-hundred-and-something BC. Hanibal’s brother Hasdrubal founded the city as a Carthaginian base in Iberia before the Romans took the city and changed the name from Qart Hadasht to Carthago Nova. Being the only natural harbour on the Mediterranean side of the Iberian Peninsula, it was, and remains a naval port with a Spanish Naval Base there today.
The town today is a very neat and tidy place with a particularly impressive main street. The Calle Mayor, which appears to be entirely paved with marble, boasts some impressive architecture.
Over the next few days Jac and I explored the touristy bits; the old Roman forum area, the partially restored Roman Theatre, the Castillo de Conception (castle) and the more recent civil war shelters, as well as checking that the standard of the beer and wine were of an acceptable standard.
The town seems to host a non stop stream of musical events and parades. On our first evening there we witnessed a song and dance show staged on a platform erected outside the town hall. The following evening there was a “Beatles Event” with a homemade Yellow Submarine playing Beatles songs accompanied by children and young people from a dance school. We commandeered ringside seats at a café across the street from the Town Hall and, being Beatles fans, we thoroughly enjoyed the show.
The following evening there seemed to be a Gay Pride march with drummers, dancing troupes and floats with some very bizarrely dressed people dancing to their float mounted sound systems. Batman wearing a thong but with no back to his tights has to be a first! He seemed to be very proud of his posterior as he was more than willing to put it on public display.