Day 10: Cartagena to Puerto de Mazarron - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 16, 2024

Day 10: Cartagena to Puerto de Mazarron

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Cartagena started out in 227 B.C. when it was established as an outpost of Carthage, the city in what is now Tunisia, that was the major rival to Rome in the 200s, B.C.  Rome and Carthage battled each other over a long period, in the famous Punic Wars (264 to 146 BC). It was in the Second Punic war that I think Cartagena played a major role. What happened was that the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, set off from Cartagena (in 219), and reversing the Grampies' direction, went to Sagunto (where we also stayed) and sacked it. Then he set off with his elephants, crossed the Alps, and beat the Romans in many battles in Italy. The Romans declared war in 218, and by 206 had kicked the Carthaginians out of Spain.  Further, by 204 they attacked Carthage (in Tunisia), forcing Hannibal to return. But he got beaten in 202 by general Scipio, and the Romans basically wiped Carthage off the map.

Once they took over Cartagena, the Romans of course did their thing, building in 5 BC, an ampitheatre, that stands today as an archeological site and tourist attraction. The Romans, of course, endured their own share of getting sacked, and in the 3rd century a market was built over the site, using some of the materials.  But the Vandals burned this in 425 and in the 6th century the Byzantines established another market. In the 13th century the Cathedral was built partially over the site, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, the archeologists have had a field day here.

Our first thing on reaching town was to go look at the Punic Wall, which was a defensive fortification built by the Carthaginians.  But here we ran in to what seems to be the pattern for Cartagena - the modest historical remains are walled off, and probably all protected by admission fees. 

In the photo below, you see that the wall is not just an organic part of the city, but an attraction, and one that was not even open when we were there.

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We did do some walking about, and got a shot of at least some part of the famous wall:

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More of the Punic Wall, probably.
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Another wall that we could get close to enclosed the university. But this was not for defending the academics, we could see, from cannon mounted along the way. This wall was built between 1614 and 1796 to defend against pirate attacks.

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Something I liked about the pirate wall was that there were lots of parakeets on the grass in front.  After having had such a hard time in Yucatan photographing anything in the parrot line, it feels great to see these ones out in the open.

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Next up in our loop through town was the harbour. We were mostly looking for a statue of Sant Iago (Santiago) , who is said to have landed here, on his way to Galicia. We never spotted it, but had we, if would have been this:

Santiago
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Instead we saw some picturesque  boats and palms, a traditionally styled sailboat, and something of a luxury yacht in the distance.

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Luxury, layer cake yacht.
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Something else we did see at the harbour  was a display about all the cities named for Carthage around the world.  Of course we have this one, and the original in Africa, as shown below.

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But then there are so many others, around the world, a lot of them in America.

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Karen PoretCartago, CA? I had never heard of this! No wonder..it’s in Inyo County and at the opposite west side of CA. It does have a good population, however..49..as in the team that lost last weekend in the Super Bowl..;)
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2 months ago

We skirted by the major walking street, looking for the ampitheatre and the cathedral,  and found city hall - which was an attractive building:

We also found what was a rare souvenir shop, featuring Roman soldier models, and Semana Santa penitents, who as we know, look like the KKK.

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Not the KKK
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The Theatre, when we found it, was surrounded by a devilish fence that you could just barely see through and that impeded your camera lens. You can see it to the left in the photo below. The photo shows the small remains of the cathedral, which was build over part of the Theatre.

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Here are some shots we did get, by sticking the camera lens almost through the annoying fence.

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This is an aerial view of the area, from a nearby poster. It is a small and jumbled district.

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It certainly was a difficult situation here over the years. Here is the story of a fishing village that had been built on top of everything:

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Our last thing was to look at the major walking street.

Descending from the Theatre area.
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A big thing that impressed me about the street was that it was surfaced in marble -  vast expanses of quality looking marble.

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See how the street is made.
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Karen PoretSlippery when wet I will bet…
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2 months ago
This is labelled the Gran Hotel
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Another look at the street surface.
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We made our way out of town along the route of EV 8, which was following a dry river bed.  We don't know the story of these dry rivers - are they normal, or are they a global warming phenomenon?

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This opened a new phase in today's cycle. We were passing through a region reminiscent to me of Arizona - with distant brown mountains, scrub, and in this case lots of what appeared to be plum orchards.

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But a really major feature was that we were again climbing. It was made tougher by a moderate head wind, but we doggedly, of course, carried on. The thing about doggedly doing anything is that you eventually achieve something, or arrive somewhere. In this case we arrived at a height, from which there was, naturally, a descent. We reminded ourselves to go slow, and set off.

Goin' down!
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Karen PoretLooks similar to the view from the top of Big Basin to the Pacific Ocean; minus the car traffic on the road. Lovely photo!!
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2 months ago
Using those brakes.
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Looking ahead on the descent we could see, wait for it, another ascent.

This one will be going up.
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The surrounding mountains.
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Looking around, I noted more of my "purple Kryptonite", but had to admit that a lot of it was probably slate.

Walls of slate
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Lots of slate
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Karen PoretAnd black tagging? :(
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2 months ago

Here is that next ascent. We knew we would not bea ble to pedal it, so we started to push. The wind now was super strong as well. In fact, though I was not even riding, it blew me over! I forgot to take the usual picture of the crashed bike. Fortunately it got thrown in the ditch and not onto the roadway!

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We reached the top, and got a panoramic view, before beginning the final descent.

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The white stuff down there is greenhouses.
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This will be our next stretch of coast.
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The mountains, in brown, we just came through.
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About half way down we came to a viewpoint. There, we answered some UQs from a couple from the UK. But it turned out the fellow had his own tale. The conversation starter was easy. He had been standing beside the back of his car, but he, or Mrs., opened the trunk and then we saw he could only walk with a walker. The tale was that two weeks ago he came off his bike, hitting sand in a roundabout, and sliding along his left side. There was an ambulance ride to Cartagena, and many x-rays. Apparently he is just severely bruised. For days, he could not sleep lying down, but is doing better now.

Here is the cyclist. I asked him to look as despondent as possible!
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The next cyclists at the viewpoint were a coupe from Belgium. Conversation here turned to cycle hardware, since their bikes were so much better than ours. They were Dutch Koga's, with Bosch Performance CX, belt drive, and notably the 14 speed  electrically shifted Rohloff hub. I consoled myself by remembering that we wanted crappy bikes, to increase the challenge. I suppose that is still true!

Here is the way down.
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The Belgian couple are off!
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Thanks, I hadn't noticed!
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Dodie heads for the sea.
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No way to see what is on those greenhouses.
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We are back down, and can enjoy things likes this Dr. Seuss plant.
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Bill ShaneyfeltFoxtail/lion's tail/swan-neck Agave.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agave_attenuata

This always takes me a while to find even though I have looked it up a few times.
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2 months ago

And here, we spot a Kestrel. The Kestrel is mainly a European bird, we read.  The North American ones are a small branch of the family.

When I photographed this bird , high on a distant light standard, the 30x optical zoom only showed a rather small dark shape. Only digital zoom seemed able to get this shot, though there is a price in quality. 

24138 Common Kestrel aka Eurasian Kestrel.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMagnificent!
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2 months ago

We had anticipated  today as sort of a rest day. With only about 40 km to do, we could arrive early, wash some clothes, do some bike maintenance. Ha! We had had no knowledge that the terrain was going to make it another fun challenge. And now, I have no idea where we are going tomorrow - too tired to look!

Today's ride: 41 km (25 miles)
Total: 426 km (265 miles)

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Scott AndersonHey, you’re back on our itinerary again. Wait around - we’ll be there in only a month.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonIn a month we will be halfway through Portugal. We need to organize ourselves better next time, we always seem to be way ahead of, or way behind, people we would love to meet up with. At least we will get a meet up with Susan Carpenter in Paris at the end of our trip.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonSteve here. I am waiting with much anticipation to see your take on stuff we have been through.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonSoon! We have to grind our way through two weeks on Mallorca first though, so be patient. When we do get there though we’ll be following a bit different route than you two - we’re going to bypass part of your coastal route by taking the suburban train from Alicante to Murcia and biking down to Mazarron from there.
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1 month ago