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El Batel Auditorium in Cartagena – Patti Smith

18 Nov

On Friday, five of us went to see Patti Smith at the Congress centre by the harbour in Cartagena.   We love this city, about and hour and a half away from Vera, Almeria and although quite a drive for a night out, it was well worth the effort.  The auditorium itself is quite spectacular, designed by Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano of the Selgas Cano studio of Madrid, and completed only last March, it provides a surprisingly intimate venue within the 18,500 sq m structure.  It is like a vast corrugated warehouse in design, but at night turns iridescent with LED’s from within.  Quite spectacular and beautiful by the water.

 

We went early and our friend, Nevenka kindly drove us as she knew we would like wine with our tapas!  There was a great place right next door to eat which Nevenka had been to before.   We parked outside the restaurant, 100 yards from the venue and tucked into calamari, potatoes with morcilla (black pudding) and chorizo, pork in tomato sauce, baked potatoes stuffed with seafood among other things.  We took full advantage of the fact we didn’t have to drive and had a good few glasses of vino!

We walked over to the concert hall at 9 ish – John and Heidi had booked online so there was no hanging about – our tickets, unbelievably, were 30 euros each – another advantage of being able to see a legend in a smallish Spanish city!  Patti Smith  was just fantastic, yes legendary –and exceeded our expectations – she is, after all, 66 next month, but the voice was still there and the appreciate, mainly Spanish, crowd certainly got their money’s worth.

 

We would thoroughly recommend taking a look on what’s on in Cartegena, as often there are big names playing (Chick Corea being one of them in a couple of weeks – we are tempted to go again).

 

It is well worth staying overnight in the ancient city of Cartagena, check into a reasonable hotel (at this time of year 50 euros will get you a good double room), go for something to eat, see a concert.  Next morning, having done your research as to what you would like to do, visit the recently restored Roman Theatre, the Maritime museum (Cartagena was one of the most important defensive ports in the western Mediterranean), to name just a couple.  You really need to spend half an hour on the internet to get the best out of your visit.  But it is also a great place to just wander around, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the ancient and modern architecture.

It just reminds us of the many fabulous cities that really, are on our doorstep, and sometimes life gets in the way of visiting them!   I urge you to put a date in the diary and go, if only for the day.

 

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Cartagena

9 May

When my family were here recently, we headed off to Cartagena one day – it is an easy drive from here, under an hour (so well within my 1 and a half hour boredom threshold in the car!).  You take the toll road and it really is a gorgeous route and you only see a car every 10 minutes or so – I don’t think the Spaniards like paying 13 euros to use this route!

Cartagena is an interesting place – it has been the capital of the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Department of the Mediterraneansince the arrival of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th Century.  It is still an important naval seaport today.  It was the first of a number of cities called Cartagena and has much to see if you are interested in Roman ruins such as the Theatre of Carthago and the cathedral which was destroyed in the Spanish Civil War and which dates back from the 13th Century to name a couple.

Cartagena has the Peral submarine here that was built by Isaac Peral and was launched in 1888 as one of the first U-Boats.

It holds the distinction of being the Spanish city with the most beaches, i.e. 10!  Like most Spanish cities wandering around the old town behind the port affords pretty good shopping and many places to stop off for a drink and tapa, or a decent lunch to linger over.  All our trips seem to centre on some kind of eating activity, a favourite pastime among the Spanish, and those of us who live here!