We had one full day left on our visit aboard Vision of the Seas, and we were once again in Valencia, Spain. We’d stopped off here nine days earlier, during our transatlantic voyage. This stop was in conjunction with our follow-on Mediterranean cruise. And as we’d been here before (follow this link for the beginning of that series: Transatlantic 2022 — Valencia; Our Next Port of Call), Ursula and I opted this time to just set out on foot, look briefly around, and enjoy the dish for which Valencia is famous, Valencia paella. But, first, let’s look around:
Now it’s time for some Valencian paella. As we wandered the streets near the port, we bypassed the obvious tourist choices along Calle del Dr. Josep Juan Dómine. Instead, we turned north onto a smallish street. Here we discovered a charming little establishment with two outdoor tables. After searching Google Maps, I’m about 95% sure that the place where we lunched was Ca Rakel on Calle del Dr. Llurch. As neither Ursula nor I were particularly hungry (we were, after all, on a cruise ship), we decided to split an order.
As we sat outside awaiting our paella, a lovely couple from I believe Slovenia took the next table. I was a bit concerned when I saw the wife had placed her purse in such a manner that it could be easily snatched (Europe, especially southern Europe stretching from Greece through Spain, is notorious for pick pockets and purse snatchers. I advised her that perhaps she might want to better secure her purse, which she did. This led us all to striking up a conversation that lasted through our meals and a little beyond even though my Slovene leaves a lot to be desired. I hadn’t spoken Slovene since George Santos and I were sent to Station L (Ljubljana) for some late Cold Warwetwork back in the early ’90s.
Just kidding, of course. I’ve never been to Slovenia, and I’ve never done wet work for The Company. Thus, poor George went to Slovenia by himself. That was back when he was a contractor for the 00 Section of MI6 using as cover his Goldman Sachs credentials as an international financial expert. Don’t believe me? I’m quite sure that’s on his résumé. Here’s George on his return from his much-decorated mission to Ljubljana:
Anyway, I don’t speak Slovene. Not even a little. Rather, it was our charming neighbors who expertly switched over to English. We discussed post-Cold War conditions in the Slavic nations, international affairs, children, careers, places we’ve traveled, and a whole lot more. The time just flew by. But I’m sure your more interested in lunch, so here it is:
Time to start heading up the hill, but before we get to the vistas there’s one more Roman-connected structure along the way. Whereas the Roman Theater is just west of the hill we are climbing, there is an old bullfighting ring to the east of that same hill. Right about now you’re probably thinking, “The Romans had bullfighting?” No. They did not. But the Spanish sure do. And in those cities that have yet to outlaw this spectacle, bullfights are held in Plazas de Toros (Plazas of Bulls). Cartagena’s was originally called Plaza de Toros de Cartagena, but today it’s Anfiteatro Romano y Plaza de Toros de Cartagena. The reason for the change is because this former bullring was built atop an ancient Roman Amphitheater. The bullring has since been partially dismantled, revealing the structure in which Roman gladiators once met. But before we get that far, here’s an interesting piece and a view above the hill:
Now let’s take a look at that stadium:
Making our way farther up the hill we pass Torre Linterna (Lantern Tower):
This hill is home toParque Torres (Tower Park). On the west side of the park is Mirador Parque Torres (Tower Park Viewpoint). It is here you’ll find these views:
This week will end my presentation of our May 2022 cruises aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, which if you’ll recall started with a transatlantic crossing, and finished up with a back-to-back follow-on that took us to some seldom seen ports in Spain and France. And this week well will finish up with a Fun Food Friday during our second visit to Valencia, where on this visit Ursula and I walked into town for a traditional Valencian paella for lunch. Heading into next week I’ll show you our next destination on this months-long journey as I take you to Germany, and then Utrecht in the Netherlands. It is from Netherlands where we then began a back-to-back-to-back set of voyages that I’m sure you’ll find fascinating the enjoyable.
But first we must finish with Cartagena before we move on to Valencia and beyond, and today we’re still in Plaza Ayuntamiento headed south toward some serious naval memorials. After that, we head onto a hill overlooking Cartagena and which holds a Roman theater, so it’ll be a busy day.
This area of Cartagena abuts a major Spanish naval base — Arsenal de Cartagena. The base dates back to the 18th century (constructed 1732-1782; in continuous use since 1782), and remains today one of Spain’s largest such facilities. So, it seems entirely appropriate that this adjacent piece of real estate would host several monuments and statues dedicated to the Spanish Armada. Let’s begin with this forlorn chap whom Ursula tried to cheer:
This homebound sailor I showed you last Fun Photo Friday:
After our visit to Plaza Héroes de Cavite we boarded our bus for one last stop before heading back to Vision of the Seas. This was but a few minutes’ ride, and it afforded us the best views that day of Cartagena. But before we completed our hike to the observation point, we were delighted to see Cartagena’s old Roman theater. Built between 5 and 1 B.C., the ruins were only recently discovered, in 1988. Excavation and restoration were completed in 2003.