Specialist shops in Cartagena, as is the case in much of Spain, still do a roaring trade. In this day and age in Britain and some other first world countries, it's not often you see people buy their meat from a butcher or their fruit and vegetables from a greengrocer. Yes, supermarkets with their unlimited products and produce and the ease of buying pre-packed food tend to have taken over specialist shops. Thankfully for independent farmers and market stall traders, many locals in Cartagena still prefer to buy much of their weekly shopping from the city's specialist shops.
Specialist Shops In Cartagena
In Spain you sometimes have no choice but to use a specialist shop. This can be the case when buying mobile phone top up. Other than maybe cough lozenges, all medicines in Spain need to be purchased at a pharmacy. The same can be said for tobacco products. Other than purchasing cigarettes from ‘some' bars, you can only buy cigarettes and rolling tobacco from a tobacconist. In other cases though it's a matter of personal preference. Many supermarkets will only stock a small selection of imported goods. Due to this you will see British corner shops, or in some towns and cities, Iceland Supermarket. There are also Russian and Scandinavian specialist shops.
Suggested Specialist Shops
Greengrocers – These are found throughout the city and at the indoor Central Produce Market. Most offer a choice of loose, unwashed fruit and vegetables as well as some pre-packed produce. They also usually have bread, eggs, nuts and pickles. By buying loose fruit and vegetables you can make great savings, especially when they're starting to get a bit too ripe or buying in kilograms.
Bakeries – These can be small family run businesses or large outlets that also offer a good choice of confectionery. Bread, baguettes and rolls are fresh from the oven. Visitors from Britain and Ireland will find some of the Spanish savoury pies have quite a sweet taste to their fillings.
Butcheries – As in Britain, pork and chicken are the two cheapest types of meat in Spain. Again, when browsing butchers, keep an eye out for special offers on bulk buys. A common cheap cut of meat in Spain is minced pork. Cooked in the right dish, even though cheap, it can still be tasty.
Delicatessens – So tempting is the produce in these specialist shops, you may want to steer clear if you are on a tight budget. That being said, if you can't do without your Serrano ham fix, they do come in different grades. The top shelf stuff that literally melts on the tong can set you back an arm and leg. Lesser grades are a bit tough but still tasty and can be found for 10€ a kilogram.
Pharmacies – Although it's an inconvenience not being able to purchase medicines anywhere other than in a pharmacy, they do have their perks. Strong painkillers that contain codeine can be purchased over the counter. This is also the case with asthma inhalers which are very cheap.
Tobacconists – When out and about after 8pm and in need of a pack of cigarettes, you may have to try quite a few bars before you find one with a cigarette machine. If you smoke rolling tobacco you are out of luck. Tobacconists are open from 9am to 2pm, then again from 5pm to 8pm. They close at 2pm on Saturdays and all day on Sundays.
Foreign Specialist Shops – Iceland Supermarket is the most popular among British and Irish visitors and expat residents. The closest one to Cartagena is in the town of San Javier near the airport. Some towns and cities have British newsagent type shops that usually do a range of popular food products. Other specialist shops include Chinese bric-a-brac, Indian foodstuffs and spices, Russian and Scandinavian shops.