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Our waiter and menu
Spain, Portugal and Basque France Adventure 2014

Dining with dockworkers and police!

Cartagena, Murcia, Spain
Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July, fellow-Americans!

After a gorgeous buffet breakfast in Granada (I have stopped eating bread now), we headed back to the Mediterranean through a very deserted barren desert-like stretch, crossing the beautiful, rugged snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains. We saw two very strange sights: houses camouflaged in the mountains, the fronts forming part of the rock formation and the house itself in the hollowed rock; miles and miles of acres covered with plastic that looked like greenhouses that contained rows of poles. We could not figure out which products were cultivated in there. We also began to see signs in Arabic and when we turned off at Almeria for lunch, the Moorish influence was very noticeable. Its Arabic citadel dates back to the 10th century.

We aimed for the Almeria port in the hopes of tasting local cuisine. Well, the only parking we could get was at the docks at an out-of-the-way joint. Subsequently, we discovered that it was where the dockworkers and local police lunched, so we made quite a few friends. The policemen were nonchalantly sipping beer with their food. The waiter was incredibly attentive and tried very hard to tell us what the menu del dia consisted of. He rushed to gesticulate that the initial two plates of salad (by the way, salad always contains shredded tuna) had to be shared by the four of us. Then, Maryln and I unsuspectingly ordered habas con jamon and fritura de piscado, thinking that we would be getting a ham salad and then fried fish and hopefully chips!

Well, the first turned out to be a full plate of something like lima beans and chunks of ham that were actually quite good, while on the next plate, three soul-fully unhappy pairs of eyes looked at us from their scrawny looking fishy bodies and the frituras turned out to be slices of red pepper fried in a batter. Herb and Judy’s spaghetti was delightfully ‘hot’ and their chicken stew delicious. Well, I guess Maryln and I are adventurous eaters and got what we asked for!

Anyway, it was great fun, and we photographed the dockworkers and the waiter and the menu and the policemen. We all felt that we certainly shared a very genuine Spanish experience off the tourist track.

From Almeria, we drive along the Costa Blanca coast until we reached Cartagena. Once again, our GPS was not very helpful and even the map we had made us none the wiser since we could not see any street names. I stopped and got directions from a group of tourists, including an artist who was painting a wreck under water (?) for the maritime museum. They got lost the day before, so they knew exactly what we were dealing with.

After booking in, I did my ‘walk through the car parking garage’ nearby trick, measuring the height of the roof with my arm in the air, and judged it as suitable. Our accommodation was the beautiful hotel NH Carthagena, right on the harbor next to the historic Naval Museum, the Cathedral and wonderful Roman ruins. Maryln paid extra for the privilege of having a room with a huge balcony on the 5th floor and we blissfully enjoyed the sights of the city and harbor while sipping wine and then coffee, the wind blowing through our hair. We watched the beautiful sunset before going for a wonderful dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel. This time Maryln’s fish was filleted and I had a delicious sole.

Cartagena City Hall
Our waiter and menu
Maryln at Cartagena harbor
Maryln and Elsa’s lunch
Maryln and Elsa’s appetizer (entree)
Judy and Herb at lunch
En route

Monument on City Square
Cartagena harbor
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