Cartagena and Calblanque

After Cordy had a brain tumour operation in December and we were finally back in Spain, we were so keen to go on a trip with the camper again, that we decide to spend the weekend in the area of Cartagena.

Our first destination was Cabo de Palos and it’s beautiful light house. We could stay at the parking below the light house over night. (37°38’02.6″N 0°41’30.6″W)

We arrived late in the afternoon and went for a stroll up to the light house and along the coast until we reach the harbour with nice restaurants. After a drink we headed back to the camper, where we prepared our dinner and made plans for the next day.

Before sunrise we headed out to take pictures of the light house in the early light, we were lucky as the sunrise was beautiful with a clear horizon and just some clouds which made a spectacular sky.

After breakfast, we drove into the Calblanque National Park on gravel roads, until we reached the western beaches. (37°35’57.9″N 0°45’34.7″W)

We were quite surprised to find this unspoilt area of coastline with beautiful beaches and only a few people going for a walk there. The weather was perfect and we walked along the sea before we sat in front our camper reading and enjoying the sun.
After a short walk to another beach we decide to head to the eastern beaches as well, to see if they are as spectacular.

We had to drive back and take another road through the mountains to get there. Before we reached the beach we passed the salinas where you can watch many birds. The beaches here are shorter but also beautiful sand beaches. We wondered, how crowded it gets here in summer. Maybe the number of cars is restricted as there are gates at the entrance. (37°36’19.7″N 0°43’42.5″W)

We haven’t heard anything good about La Manga – the narrow stretch between the Mar Menor, a lagoon, and the sea, but as you shouldn’t speak badly about things you don’t know, we decide to drive up and see for ourselves. The land is so narrow that mostly you have one street with a hotel on one or sometimes both sides and thats it. The lagoon side has no beaches, only on the sea side there is a little beach with high rising hotels. Everything is closed and empty in winter but we could imagine what’s going on here in summer, when all the apartments are in use.

There are some places where we saw caravans parked, but this area is not attractive at all so we turn around and headed back to Cabo de Palos. Tonight we parked directly at the coast, next to the harbour, with a spectacular view.  (37°37’51.0″N 0°41’51.5″W)

The restaurants at the harbour only serve lunch at this time of the year, and we were definitively too late. But a drink and pan y allioli while we watched the boats coming back, were a nice way to end the day.

The next day, we drove into Cartagena to get an impression of this historic town. We found a perfect parking close to the harbour next to the technical university. (37°35’59.4″N 0°58’39.3″W – go there only in the morning and when the university is closed 😉
We were close to the lift up to the castle, from where we got a good overview over the harbour and the town.

The natural harbour bay made Cartagena to a preferred port early on in its history. You can see the military harbour with its vessels and the different forts for protection at the surrounding mountains. From up here, we also got a good view at the roman theatre, which was not discovered until 1988.

We walked down again and along the harbour to the centre and along the main street into town. We loved the houses with their beautiful balconies and the modernismo style you find quite often in Cartagena. Also with its many interesting museums, Cartagena for sure is a town where we need to spend more time to discover everything.

After a coffee we walked back to our parking and left town to find a place for lunch before we hat to drive home. At the end, we decided to drive back to Cabo de Palos to the restaurant Bocana de Palos at the harbour to finally also eat there. The location is perfect and the food was also nice. We sat in the sun, watching everything which happens at the harbour entrance. Late in the afternoon, we finally left the area and headed north again.

We got a short glimpse of this region and found out, we will have to spend much more time here to explore the historic town of Cartagena and the beautiful coastline.

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