Following our stay in Barcelona and Valencia (check out Part 1 of this trip here) we headed to Cartagena. We’d picked Cartagena because it was on the coast and not a tourist hot spot. The latter was definitely true; there was a lack of hostels and Air BnBs, and the three or so hotels in town functioned as landmarks on street signs.
Determined to not get discouraged by having ended up in a town that we were probably mispronouncing the name of – or no one seemed to have heard of – we decided to head to the beach on our very first morning. This proved to be a greater challenge than expected. We trekked for what seemed like an eternity, the way in which unexplored roads seem never ending simply because you do not know the distance to your destination, past the marina and rocky cliffs on empty stomachs. It was the second time we’d made the mistake of believing that we could easily find a corner store for breakfast essentials, yet having no such luck.
At last, the road we were walking opened up, and stretching out below us was a bay of glorious glimmering water, the beach and a restaurant. We ascended the stairs with newfound energy and headed straight for the breakfast menu. We spent the rest of the day on the beach: alternating between the sun and the shadow, cliff jumping and taking embarrassing photos on the GoPro, and going on multiple ice-cream runs.
When we agreed that our skins had been covered in enough layers of sunscreen and salt we ventured back into town and strolled through the streets of Cartagena’s old town. We found a beautiful square with two massive trees at the center; a bar had even been built around one of the tree trunks. The best bargain find of the evening was no doubt Bodega El Macho, a beer and tapas place just to our liking. £1.90 gets you one tapas + one small beer (you’ll get the best value for money if you order a beer with every tapas!) and they also have larger plates with nachos and potatas bravas. Lots of vegetarian friendly options too.
Following our beach-sightseeing-beach schedule, Day Two in Cartagena was dedicated to exploring the history and culture of the Spanish town. Remnants of Roman architecture can be seen throughout the city: part of a wall, a well-conserved Roman theatre and several other buildings. Moreover, Cartagena has repeatedly been an important defense port, but was bombed heavily during The Spanish Civil War because of this.
Before boarding the night bus that would take us to our next destination we made a final visit to Bodega El Macho – there were still a few tapas to try and favorites to enjoy again.
We arrived in the much-anticipated Seville around 6am. After freshening up, grabbing a small breakfast, and dropping our bags off at the hostel, we made our way to the Alcázar of Seville to beat the queues and the heat. Alcázar of Seville is the city’s royal palace and one of the infamous film locations of Game of Thrones. The entire place was like an art installation: room after room decorated in beautiful warm colors and patterned tiles with minute details, courtyards filled with tropical greenery and gardens so extensive that we didn’t have time to walk through them all. Everywhere you turned was another picture perfect backdrop and we simply couldn’t get enough.
Over the next couple of days we discovered that all of Seville was filled with the same artistic feel: it was the city of tiles. Every crooked street we sauntered down, and every corner we turned, revealed another cobbled alleyway adorned with souvenir stalls or cute cafés. The street signs are all displayed on beautiful tiles to go along with the city’s cheerful hues and the flower-embellished balconies. If it hadn’t been for the heat we could have wandered for hours getting lost in the city’s décor (we did end up getting lost multiple times – advanced map-reading skills were required here).
The oasis on the hostel’s rooftop became our rescue during the most sweltering hours of the day. Staying submerged in the pool was the best remedy according to me, but there was also the option to lounge in the shade or enjoy a cold beer/cocktail at the bar served by the handsome bartender.
In addition to the beautiful architecture, we also enjoyed a night barhopping and dancing at some of Seville’s lively outdoor bars, and an evening dedicated to eating as many tapas as we possibly could. If only we could figure out what times of the day business is closed for siesta (we never seemed to get it right), I wouldn’t mind spending some prolonged time in this gorgeous Spanish city.