It seemed appropriate to start at a leisurely pace this morning in anticipation of empty streets today, on a Spanish public holiday. In my hotel room, I mapped where to find my Barcelona hotel once the train reaches the station there tomorrow afternoon and determined how I will travel to the airport on Saturday for my early morning flight. Then I forayed out, saw most places were closed but found a small local supermarket open and was able to buy some salad and hummus for tomorrow’s 8-hour train trip back to Barcelona. Then I set off to find the train station which I will walk to in the morning dark; as usual I didn’t watch the streets and directions well enough and so walked for ¾ an hour rather than the required 13 minutes. So now I know, and tomorrow I will be able to drag myself and suitcase over the cobbled streets and laneways straight there. Okay – practical matters out of the way. Onto the discoveries of the day.
I walked into the centre by a route that I had not previously used. Hardly a soul around. Nowhere to eat – cafes still closed, but churches always with their doors open. Once in the centre I aimed at the Elvira and tea streets area hoping to find open a Syrian or Arabic café restaurant serving vegetables. At 11 am this was a lost cause. I bought a tiny biscuit with pumpkin seeds and chopped dry fruit pressed on top from a pastry shop. This was my breakfast fortification.
Nothing for it but to wander on eastwards into the Jewish quarter. What for I wondered. I guess because it is there. I certainly didn’t see anything or anyone that indicated the area was in any way Jewish. Was this a fact of the past and if so, what was I as a tourist meant to see and make of it all. So, I ambled along sometimes up hills and sometimes down hills along the narrow streets or in the laneways.
I saw some street art rather than graffiti – but rarely.
At one point, half-heartedly, I thought that I would try and walk to the edge of town closest to the Sierra Nevada. I had to have a purpose. A goal. An aim. Every time a street came to an end with a building blocking the way, that plan was thwarted.
I came down one hill and realised I had reached the river. Beside it, I could see an expansive open-air café with the umbrellas up for shade from the hard autumn sun. Everyone looked well heeled and the prices reflected that. My brunch was a mix of a plate of artichokes, red peppers, anchovies and pickled onions, a piccolo of cava (Spanish sparkling wine), a cup of black tea brewed in the mug, and an Italian icecream coffee cake (it was the cava that made me order that).
I meandered along the edge of the constrained river, Rio Genil.
I heard music. In the distance, crowds of people watched busking circus performers. Nearby were massive constructions on which children could test their skills and limits, or simply have fun. And then there were those walking their dogs, many of them everywhere.
Hundreds of people enjoying the sun, enjoying the holiday. I followed a stream of locals and found an artisan’s market with classy hand-mades.June – did you ask me to photograph someone playing the bagpipes or did I dream that?
Before long I stood beside the massive statue at Plaza Isabella Catolica. I need to do some research because I have more than an inkling that Queen Isabella (around the late 15th century) was not my kind of woman – I think she and her husband were responsible for ordering the conversion or exile of their Muslim and Jewish subjects.
Time for an afternoon nap, so I returned to my hotel and enjoyed the feeling that I didn’t have to rush or to be anywhere. And slept.
For dinner I returned to the wonderful Palmira and ate well. Joining a green tea with mint, was a plate of rice, chickpeas and onion, and another dish using eggplant, tomato and onion. This is a quality restaurant – there is so much more flavour in their simple dishes than in the other Arabic cafes where I have eaten. Wonderful.
The Makmur and the Arroz with garbanzos:
Pleasant walk back. Still thousands casually on the streets with lots of strollers and prams indicating perambulation is a family affair and being outdoors in the evening is natural.