Just before I released the last blog, I had a major computer malfunction – that is to say, I broke the screen on our laptop causing me much distress. I had put the mouse between the keyboard and the screen while we had dinner one evening, and later forgetting what I had done, leaned over it pressing the mouse into the screen when it predictably went ‘pop’.
This resulted in an Internet search for an English speaking computer wizard who might be able to perform a magic trick. Chris located Craig from MW IT Services (http://mwitsupply.com) with a business nearby in Mazarron. Having driven for 45 minutes he took one look and within 2 minutes he new exactly what was needed, ordered the bits and told us to come back in a week. A smile was now back on my face.
We drove on through a productive area with mountains surrounding a flat basin of fertile soil with much more intensive crop growing.
We stayed at a nearby cheap and very basic Aire on the coast for a night and swiftly moved on to a nice and well set out Aire at Los Dolores, on the outskirts of Cartagena. By the afternoon we were soon on a bus bound for the city centre with a map of the streets and local attractions.
We saw a statue of Carmen Conde by Juan José Quirós, she was a local poet, teacher and writer, born 1907, Chris showed her the benefits of a mobile phone.
The streets were lined with lovely buildings. Apologies, there were too many to find out what they were or the names.
There were some wonderful street lamps designs.
We decided on a ‘Roman’ theme and sought out the local archaeology site displaying a thermal bathing pool system, with cold plunge pool, and two hotter ones, plus various rooms to socialise in. There were flag-stone floors raised up on columns of bricks providing an airspace which was heated by underfloor hot air provided by huge wood fires. The larger rooms for meetings and social gatherings were decorated with faded geometric designs in red, blue and green, and earthenware storage vessels were displayed against a wall. There was a large courtyard laid with herringbone brick pattern which at one time had columns surrounding it to support a roof.
There was so much to see in Cartagena that we went back for a longer visit next day. The harbour was massive and included boat building yards, manufacturing and repairs to ships, and cargo handling areas. Apparently, cruise ships come here but none were in port at the time of our visit. We wanted to go to the Museum for Underwater Archaeology which included rivers, lakes and marine environments. It was a first class, modern museum with interactive facilities, huge TV screens showing video footage of work on wrecks on the seabed and well lit displays with descriptions in Spanish and English. We spent 2 hours there walking and reading and it only cost 3€ each which was very good value.
Elsewhere in the city we found a well preserved amphitheatre but were only able to walk around the outside. Higher up the hill was part of a castle, not much left but a great vantage point to see over the city and across to the harbour.
We had an excellent fish and seafood lunch nearby and carried on down the promenade. We found a massive statue of a man clasping his knees entitiled El Zulo by Victor Ochoa, a tribute to the victims of terrorism, particularly the victims of the Madrid train bombings. The harbour had fishing boats, yachts and catamarans and we saw an enormous new looking ship which looked naval not private. Photo below. It had 3 tall metal masts with aerials at the top, grills over what looked like oval portholes so that the whole hull looked solid, it was a bit spooky really! (PS Update: Scroll to the bottom, see comment by ‘Sailingchard’ with a link to details about this boat).
Now, craving a bit of countryside, we set off for an Aire in the heart of lemon and orange groves for a couple of days in Alquerias. Finally parking opposite the lemon trees dripping with fruit, birds everywhere and wildflowers around the trunks, we relaxed with a view of the hills. It was so peaceful and quiet, and only one other British motorhome there. We walked into the village to explore and passed several fields of coriander, we could smell it before we saw it, and eventually watched it being harvested by hand by half a dozen people bending double, it looked a back breaking business. Weirdly, we spotted oranges and lemons growing on the same tree several times during our walk, may be they are on grafted root stock or just crossbred trees.
There were collar doves, sparrows, serins, and crested larks everywhere, so many wild plants with seeds to feed on, nothing too tidy and cleared away making spaces for wildlife to thrive. Back with Della, homemade seeded bread and Chris’ French onion soup, we had a delicious lunch in the sunshine and time to recap on the Spanish lessons for the afternoon. A robin even visited and came inside for any spilt breadcrumbs.
The following day we walked along a track by the Segura river which was rather choked with reeds and debris, even so we saw mallard, moorhens and a couple of cormorants with a Sardinian warbler closer to the pathway. The opposite side of the river had a purpose made walking path and a tarmac cycling track which was also used for roller-blading and good for pushchairs. It was the weekend and so the facility was being really well used and there was space for everyone to enjoy the surroundings.
We walked back this way and found lovely orchards with pink blossom (which we think are peach trees) as well as a few white blossom trees, as usual the ground between was carpeted with colourful flowers.
Having packed up and stowed everything away we were on the move again, the drive was very different from some of our others, there was a lot more agriculture and only some greenhouses. There were fields of potatoes, artichokes, broad beans and brassicas, fruit trees resided in netted ‘greenhouses’ that must have covered acres, along with the plastic greenhouses with tomatoes and cucumbers.
We were heading for a 3 day visit to La Fuente at Baños de Fortuna, a site north east of Murcia, surrounded by mountains nestled in the lee of a hill. This was a place for rest and relaxation as there was a wonderful spa pool with Jacuzzis and water jets, at a constant temperature of 36C and being thermal mineral water, it was supposedly really good for you! With a roof to keep the sun off and open ended, it was sheltered and calm, however, as soon as you got out, the wind rapidly cooled you off. There were sun loungers provided but no cushions, I expect they would perish too quickly in the sun, anyway it did ensure you wouldn’t lie out and fry all day.
Again we had lovely English neighbours to chat to and they were happy to share 17 years of motorhome experience so we gained a few useful tips. We have some way to go to get to their record!
We also had our first really stunning sunsets.
The map has been updated with our convouluted route and I shall add a few extra photos under the PHOTOS tab.