Barcelona, Spain: Castell de Montjuïc

To start off our second morning in Barcelona, we took a cab to Castell de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Castle.

During a revolt in 1640, a fortification was built atop the Montjuïc mountain. It was attacked the following year, and eventually became a castle in 1694. In 1751, after a back-and-forth struggle of who had possession of the castle, the old fort from 1640 which stood inside the walls of the castle had been demolished. A moat was placed around the castle, and from 1779 to 1799, construction to provide accommodations took place within the castle, since the population within the walls was growing.  120 cannons had also been placed within and around the castle.

In the mid 1900’s, the castle served as a military prison, but in 1960, the castle was given back to the city. The following three years were spent turning the site into a military museum, and it opened as such in 1963 (http://www.bcn.cat/castelldemontjuic/en/welcome.html).

We walked around the grounds of the castle, and each angle of the castle had a different view of the city—one side of the castle provided us with a view of La Sagrada Familia, whereas the other side provided us with a view of the Port of Barcelona (pictured below). After touring the castle, we headed towards Telefèric de Montjuïc, which is the Montjuïc Cable Car. As the cable car brought us down the hill, we saw the entire city from a 360 degree angle. It was absolutely breathtaking!

 

 

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Day 1 In Cartagena, Colombia

Upon waking up in the morning, we drove directly to the airport as we made our way to Cartagena, Colombia. On our way, we were told that Bogotá has one percent of all the gyms in the world. As a health conscious city, Bogotá also has what is called Ciclovía every Sunday. From 7am-2pm, many of the streets are closed for people to do exercise such as biking, walking, or running. As we drove to the airport, we saw countless individuals bicycling and running along the streets. It was fascinating to see the government support such a great idea.

After a short flight to Cartagená, it was time for us to learn more about the city as we drove to our hotel. Hotel Carribe, the hotel we stayed at was built between 1945-1950, and was the first hotel built in Cartagena. More recently, it is famously known for a scandal involving President Obama’s secret service. Before President Obama arrived to Cartagena a short while ago, his secret service (who were staying at Hotel Carribe) were caught fighting with prostitutes regarding their costs.

As is the same in Bogota, all males must go to the army to receive 18 months of military experience upon graduating from high school. The only exceptions are if the individual is disabled, married, has children, or is continuing with his studies by attending college. Otherwise, the individual will receive a fine (with the amount depending on his social class) and he risks the possibility of a legal kidnapping in which the military can find and bring him to their station to enlist him.

Cartagena has been said to have the third most important port in all of South America after Brazil and Chile. Tourism is the next biggest source of income in Cartagena after the port. In one cruise alone which docked just a few weeks before our arrival, between $400,000-$500,000 was made in emerald sales alone. Restaurants and hotels also bring in a fair share of money from tourists as well, but emerald sales are a big hit with the tourists as well.

One of the entrances into Cartagena is named Boca Grande because of how big it is. Walls throughout the city once protected Cartagena from pirates due to a significant amount of pirate attacks years ago to steal treasure and merchandise.

November 11th is Cartagena’s Independence Day, and that whole week consists of parties throughout the city. Even the government approved of the partying by offering fifty cent beers throughout the city.

After learning a few interesting facts about the city, we arrived at the hotel to drop off our belongings. As we arrived, we were greeted with fruit cocktails before the start of our city tour.