Tag Archives: Zaragoza

Zaragoza

18 Apr

It’s perhaps unfortunate that we visited Zaragoza so soon after spending time in Seville. It seriously doesn’t compare. But perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh, particularly if, like us, you want to break up the long drive from the Mediterranean coast to the the ferries in the north.

There are two cathedrals for a start, not to mention the fortified palace of the Aragon Court. We visited the latter on our first evening after failing to be able to walk to it along the riverbank. It’s pleasant enough although so restored it resembles a stereotypical toy castle. It must have been splendid in its day but little of that splendour remains and we left after half an hour feeling we hadn’t been allowed to access most of the building.

Then there’s the food. The tapas bars get rave reviews but I feel like the boy who said the Emperor was “in the altogether”. I’d have been grateful for a Macdonald’s, to be honest. And everybody is so incredibly unfriendly to the point of rudeness. Yes, they’re busy and they are serving idiots who are stupid enough to eat in a place where the waiter insists you don’t ask him for a particular item on the menu, just tell him the number. I sympathise but it doesn’t help. Oh, and you’ll pay far more than anywhere else in Spain that we have visited.

Ok, maybe my judgement has been clouded by accidentally stepping with both feet into a water feature shortly followed by walking into a glass door that turned out not to be a door – the only time I saw a local laugh. I decided that the dire food was the third of the “these things come in threes” event. Nevertheless, I’ve been very careful to hold handrails while going up and down stairs!

Our second day restored my faith in Zaragoza. For a start we found somewhere serving fresh bread at reasonable prices for breakfast and the busy waitress managed to both smile and be friendly. It’s amazing how something like that can change your day. After losing it slightly when I was served warm white wine (they quickly realised it was a good idea to get me a fresh one!) we decided to change our eating intentions completely and hunted out a lunchtime Menu del Dia in the shopping district, completely abandoning the idea of tapas. Thankfully that worked, too.

We managed to visit both cathedrals, some Roman ruins and a quirky exhibition of huge illuminated lanterns at the Museum of the Crystal Rosary (Museo de los Faroles y Rosario de Cristal). Apparently these huge illuminated lanterns are carried around Zaragoza in October which one review we read described as a sort of collision between Blackpool Illuminations and Semana Santa. Now that would definitely be something to see.

So would we return? As an overnight stopover – probably.

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Heading Home

1 Feb

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Changing circumstances have got us heading home early. Yesterday saw us packing up the car for the journey to Santander. We’ve been a bit unlucky with the ferries this winter as, again, the crossing we booked for tonight has been cancelled due to bad weather. And it takes some very bad weather for them to do this! As it is, the crossing we’re now booked on will stop in Brest for a crew change and to avoid the worst of the storm forecast for the Channel. Sturgeron at the ready.

So we’re spending tonight in a hotel in Bilbao or, rather, overlooking Bilbao. That’s ok, though, as we don’t plan on setting foot out of the door. You wouldn’t either if you could see the weather. Honestly, we’ve had all four seasons in one day. Leaving Jávea in warm sunshine, the blossom just starting to look its best, we bid a fond farewell to the Mediterranean, so much a part of our lives for the last five years and headed towards the Bay of Biscay.

The heating went on in the car just north of Valencia and as we climbed into the mountains the seasons rolled back. Around Zaragoza the fertile red planes were just starting to bud with spring-like greenery. At times the road seemed to cut its way through the sky, blue to the port side while dark clouds rolled over the black mountains to starboard. Bridging the two a rainbow kept pace with us, its end caressing the rooftops, farm buildings and ornate church towers with multi-coloured light.

Descending the northern slopes brought, literally out of the blue, gritting lorries and winter. Without warning we were suddenly driving through sleet and then snow, thanking our lucky stars that we’d set out early and we still had daylight. Ah well, it’s stopped now although the wind is howling. And the cold is keeping our drinks nicely chilled on the window sill. I know. That’s plebs for you.