The city of Cartagena is along the coast of Spain about 2 hours from us. It was a Phoenician settlement and Roman trading center before becoming a Muslim stronghold. We stayed out of the main downtown since it was a last minute trip and in-town hotel prices were too expensive. There was easy parking, though, at a super convenient underground garage right at the port. Rolling into there was fun! The kids and I were shocked to see a gigantic!! cruise boat parked at the dock and taking over the entire port. It was incredible, and we all kind of wished we could hop aboard and go along to the next port.
Even with the cruise ship in town, there wasn’t a crowded feel to the place. We walked to the information desk for maps (Avi, especially, must have his own) and then visited the Roman Theater museum. It was amazing, and fun to explore. Zoe loved walking through the underground entrance and noticing all the different styles of wall that have built in the same place. Avi just wanted to be on stage!
From the theatre we walked around the local neighborhood and up onto the castle hill behind the theatre; and realized we could’ve seen the whole thing for free from the city park up there. oh well, it was nice to be able to walk through the museum and sit on the steps. In the park we found a fun place near an old tower to stop for a snack break. There was an amazing old fig tree that the kids had fun climbing around. We walked down the hill through the park along the old city wall where we had another playground break before heading out of town.
Tired and hot from tourist stuff, we packed back into the car and drove to the Mar Menor: a giant salt lake/lagoon that just barely exits out to the Mediterranean sea. There is a long thin peninsula holding it in; and, of course, this peninsula is covered with hotels and resorts and craziness. This is not our typical scene: super crowded beaches and lots of shops, hotels, and places to be seen, BUT I had heard that the water on the lagoon side was warm and calm. The further up the peninsula we went, the less crowded as well. So, but the time we ventured about 20km up the thing we were able to find a lagoon-fronted beach in a beach house rental area that was way more chill than down south. The water was warm and shallow and beautifully clear and calm, as promised. We parked for the rest of the afternoon. I read, kids dug and built in the sand, and swam….really far out sometimes, though they could still stand. It wasn’t a public beach, though, so when Zoe had to poo, well, there was no toilet and nowhere to go. She just went out as far as possible and then kept calm when it floated for a bit before sinking into oblivion. Didn’t know what else to do! That was the most excitement we had, so it was a wonderful day. We spent the evening back at our hotel doing a bit of our summer school work.
In the morning we went back into Cartagena to visit the Underwater Archaeology museum which the kids begged to see after seeing a poster for it in town. I’m not someone to turn down kids’ desire to visit museums! It was fascinating; part intro to underwater archaeology, part maritime history of the area. An actual Phoenician boat had been excavated in the area, so they used it to explain how archaeologists find things underwater, how their equipment works, and how to actually excavate in the sea. It was neat. Then they taught us about what life was life in Cartagena during Phoencian and then Roman port times with neat video interactives all about the time period. It was wonderful!
We headed home via the IKEA in Murcia again; after Avi really really wanted meatballs again for lunch. Back home I was ready to tackle the rest of unpacking and projects after our little break.