Gutsy Gladiators and Spanish Bulls or the History of Cartagena

Just off the Mediterranean coast, in the Region of Murcia, is the Spanish city of Cartagena. In addition to its natural seaport, the ancient city of Cartagena was strategically important to both Carthage and Rome due its close proximity to rich silver mines during that period of time. From Carthaginians, to Romans, to Moors, the Mediterranean city of Cartagena has a very long and colorful history. Visitors entering the city today will find remnants of that glorious past in the form of murals, mosaics, and Roman ruins. Perhaps the most fascinating of all is the Roman theatre of Cartagena which was only uncovered in recent years.


The Roman Theatre of Cartagena

The Roman Theatre of Cartagena was built between 5 and 1 B.C., at the times of Gaius and Lucius, the grandsons of Caesar Augustus. In the 3rd century A.D., a market was built over the theatre and then a cathedral in the 12th century. It wasn’t until the 1990s that excavations were begun to restore the site to its former glory.


After touring the ancient amplitheatre, my mind kept racing back to those glory days when I lived that life of a daring and dashing gladiator.


Big John in his glory days!



Big John standing at the massive theatre wall, reminiscing back to his Spartacus years.


Just recently, archeologists discovered completely intact cages that once housed gladiators and various animals.

Scenes of antiquity from the extraordinary history of Cartagena


Rebecca was rather upset when she found out she missed the gladiator show by a few thousand years.


I thought I had found the largest door in the city…


…but then she just had to go and one up me!


The town hall of Cartagena



Armed with my trusty iPhone camera, I was ready to hit the streets!

These buildings in the barrio were mostly false fronts!


Big John tries to flex under the mighty limbs of an old banyan tree.


…and there stands my beautiful Spanish flower!


I’m not quite sure, but I believe this kid is singing to a fish. I think that may be a warning not to drink the water coming from this fountain!


Cartagena has a history of bullfighting that dates back to the 13th Century.  Although the city no longer hosts these events, bullfighting can still be found in other regions of Mercia and Spain.

I never knew there was so much beauty in the streets of Spain!


Under a canopy of ancient Roman ruins.


Much of Cartagena is still an active archeological site.


All of these ancient ruins reminded me of our fascinating trip to the city of Rome.


These bronze ladies are sharing spreading good news in the midst of San Sebastian Plaza.



San Sabastian plaza offers visitors an excellent shopping and dining experience.



Much of Cartagena’s beautiful architecture seems to be a clash between the Renaissance and modernist flair.


If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she had a thing for cops.



The walled remnants of an ancient fortress perched high on a Cartagena hill.


A statue of Hannibal Barca

Hannibal Barca was a general from Ancient Carthage who is widely considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. Much of Hannibal’s fame was gained in heavy combat during the Second Punic War.


Rebecca would travel all the way to Cartagena just to eat delicious tapas!

After miles of sightseeing through a city full of fascinating history, Rebecca and I were ready to enjoy one of Cartagena’s greatest treasures – her insanely good Spanish cuisine! Even the ancient Carthaginians knew the importance of throwing a good feast!

I hope our journey through Cartagena inspired you to pack those bags and embark on an adventure all of your own making. Thank you for visiting Big John’s Adventures in Travel and please feel free to explore more of my site.


Happy travels,

Big John

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Into Innsbruck’s Old Town

Neatly tucked away inside the North Chain of the Karwendal Alps lies the city of Innsbruck, Austria. The city is well-known for its winter sports and there is even an Olympic ski jump on the south side of town. Because Olympic ski jumps are highly frowned upon when one is pregnant, Rebecca and I decided to skip this particular attraction and head straight into Innsbruck’s Old Town.

Inside the Old Town of Innsbruck

To step into the Old Town of Innsbruck is to step back in time some 800 years ago. Inside the heart of Tyrol,  this Austrian city is a place of both sophistication and old-world charm. Rebecca and I had an amazing time admiring its Gothic and Baroque architecture, set against the backdrop the majestic Alps.

Numerous medieval paintings such as this can be seen on the walls around town.



Herzog-Friedrich-Straße is the central street through the Old Town of Innsbruck. It is named after Duke Friedrich IV.



This baroque style church managed to squeeze its way firmly into the marketplace.



Look at all those pretty pastels all neatly lining the street!



This little Speck figurine is a girl after my own heart. She stands over the door of a savory butcher shop.



Rebecca takes a picture with a real life Tyrolean mountain man.


She’s beckoning me to go inside for some fruity brandy and schnapps.



This polar window creation was made entirely of gummies!



I love seeing the police cars of various countries. Go Austria’s finest!



FloJos’ in Innsbruck has great eats!

When looking for a place to do lunch, Rebecca and I stumbled upon this great spot featuring steaks, ribs, burgers, and more. We felt especially at home when we discovered the restaurant’s interior was dressed in American decor.

Rebecca is happy to be out of the cold and inside for warmth and good food!

Beer is good in nearly every occasion!


Now that’s what I call a nice rack of ribs!


She actually stood just like that, not moving, for nearly an hour. Once I realized she was frozen in place, I pried her feet from the stones and moved her quickly inside.



This little shop was full of fascinating biblical scenes such as this one seen in the window.


The Innsbruck Cathedral

The Innsbruck Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. James, was rebuilt between 1717 and 1724 on the site of a 12th century Romanesque church. Much of the original structure had been damaged by earthquakes in the 16th and 17th centuries.


The cathedral’s main organ has an astonishing 3,729 pipes and 57 registers.


The church is a popular place for both worshippers and lovers of fine art.



A grand house perched above the streets of Innsbruck


The Inn River and old Inn bridge


Although we only visited the city for a day, Innsbruck turned out to be an excellent place to experience much of the feel and flavor of Austria during the winter months. Thank you for visiting Big John’s Adventures in Travel. We hope our post inspired you to pack those bags and create an adventure all of your making.

Happy travels,

Big John

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The Alps by Automobile

In January of 2019, Rebecca and I decided to embark on the ultimate road trip and explore the Alps by automobile.  We began our crazy adventure in northern Italy, but before it was all over we had traveled through the snowy passes of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria. This post serves as a photographic diary of our scenic journey along the way.

We entrusted this little French 5-speeder, a Citroën, to carry us safely through the Alps.




The Castelgrande Castle, near the Italian border, is located in Bellinzona, Italy



Rebecca wasn’t skipping any of the rides outside this rest stop in Tremorgio, Switzerland.




Our journey carried us through the beautiful Lake Como Region of Italy.




The roads weren’t bad and we carried snow chains in the trunk just in case things got icy.




One of my favorite things about these quaint villages is their perfect little chapels. Check out the traditional clock face on this one in Amsteg, Switzerland.




The lakeside community of Beckenried, Switzerland




Big John gets out the car to stretch his legs at a small grocery store in Beckenried.




The famous Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland




Perhaps one of my visitors can give me more information on this beautiful mosaic observed on a Swiss mountain pass.




The Hotel Post in Realp on the Furka Pass, Switzerland




Cross-country skiers enjoying the Swiss powder




I can only imagine all the simple pleasures one would find in the rural Alpine life.




Around two-thirds of the Swiss population identify as Protestant or Roman Catholic.




All of the timber houses, cottages, and other wooden structures maintain that unique Swiss appeal.




Pretty as a postcard!




While venturing out towards Zermatt and the Matterhorn, we reached a point where all private automobiles were required to load up on trains to continue onward.




A view of the majestic Matterhorn from the village of Zermatt




The Austrian countryside on the way to Innsbruck



Innsbruck, the capital city of Tirol Province, Austria




The sun has brightened our day as we continue along down that Alpine highway.

Our fun-filled Alpine road trip proved to be a memorable experience we won’t soon forget. For Rebecca and I, the chance to travel the world, visit exciting places, and see all of God’s handiwork has become one of our greatest passions in life. Thank you for visiting Big John’s Adventures in Travel. I hope that by sharing these posts, it will inspire you to pack those bags and set out on an adventure all of your own making. Please visit my site soon to see where our next adventure will take us.


Happy travels,

Big John

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