This year the Cartagena trail ran from the 20th February until yesterday. The price was 2.50€. Seventy seven establishments took place, well 76 really as one of our favourite restaurants seems to have gone bust between signing up for the competition and it starting. There is a little leaflet listing all of the participating eateries and when you buy a tapa the bar or restaurant stamps your list. Providing you visit at least six places you can then vote for your favourite tapa and there all sorts of prizes for the participants most of them depending on a draw from amongst the returned leaflets.
It's a really nice idea in that you get to see the inside of restaurants that you might never otherwise visit either because they are a bit pricey or maybe because they offer a cuisine that you're not keen on. We went to a Japanese restaurant for instance and to the smokers club which is normally closed to non members. It's fast too and easy. Order up a couple of rutas, a couple of drinks and ten minutes later you're on your way to the next. It must be good business for the bars and restaurants too. A quick turnover of customers.
New for this year was that if you drank Matsiumselección red wine with your tapa you were also given a fridge magnet with an old sepia print of Cartagena on it. Nice idea except that in the majority of the bars they had run out of their allocated magnet. We only got four magnets despite going to at least twenty places.
Just for handing in the leaflet you get a ticket allowing you free entry to one of ten local museums or attractions. As I was queuing to hand mine in I suddenly realised that it would have been smarter to spread our twenty plus bars over three leaflets giving us three chances at the prizes and three free tickets. Too late though.
I went to the tourist office to hand in my leaflet. In front there was a woman handing over at least twenty. I felt quite sorry for the young woman behind the desk who had to open each folded leaflet, check there were at least six stamps and go on to the next. I was less gracious when I got to the front of the queue and she told me that she had run out of the free museum tickets. I was sent on to the local Chamber of Commerce which was also collecting the leaflets. The person in front had just eleven to hand over.
Well, that's the Ruta de la Tapa done for this year. Now on to the next event - Holy week.