El Museo de Almería

I got a niggle last night that told me not to go to bed. The reason for that niggle manifested itself just past midnight, when a chance to take a largeish order for the weekend came in, a chance I would have lost by morning. Good thing I’ve learned to listen to my niggles!

But after a few days at the computer, I was in the mindset to go to town. I worked steadily through the morning to get a sense for how long the job would take and left around 1:20 confident I wouldn’t have an insane day tomorrow. The bus schedule said that buses leave my neighbourhood at –:05 and –:35 on Saturdays and mine is the first stop. So silly me thinking there would be a bus at 1:35! One finally came around 1:55. Ridership was low, so we got to town in record time. I stayed on a couple of extra stops to get closer to the museum.

I wanted a quick lunch, something fast foody that wasn’t a pastry or a tapa, like pizza by the slice or a burger. There is a real dearth of such things in Spain… I walked from the bus stop to the museum along a busy route and almost all restaurants were shut tight despite it being the Spanish lunch hour and there was none of the fast food-type places you see all over Mexico and the Balkans to get you by outside of their regular later meal hours. The few places that were open had small bites for expensive prices. It says a lot that I was almost relieved to find a Burger King!

But, thankfully, I hung on and found a kebab place. I was so happy that I didn’t care that lunch cost me 6.50 euros! I was allowed to mix beef and chicken for the same price, which was a nice treat, and they let me have a bottle of water instead of pop without making me pay the surcharge. Their garlic sauce was the best I’ve had since coming to Europe, and I’ve had quite a bit of doner since coming across the pond! I may have had some on my fries. I may also have had fries. 🙂

Lesson learned: I’m going to take “have lunch” off my Almería to-do list and eat at home before going out unless I’m really in the mood for doner (I would definitely go to this place again). And, again, I’ve been looking during what is the traditional Spanish lunch hour!

I really didn’t need dessert after, but there was an ice cream parlour right next door that was open! *gasps* I ordered a “mini” scoop of Oreo in a cup and the server asked if I wanted to try another flavour at no charge. I expected him to add put a dollop of the strawberry cheesecake, but, no, he gave me almost a full portion! I maintain that free ice cream has no calories… 😉

The museum was easy to find, its entrance not so much. Its exterior is really ugly and looks like a bunker! Notice that the sign says it’s the archaeology museum, but it’s also referred to as the Almería Museum, with the two being used interchangeably.

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Little did I know what would await me inside…

I’d done my research and knew that admission is 1.50 euros for non-residents. So I went up to the welcome desk to pay and the man there asked me where I’m from. I said Canada, but that I’m in the area six weeks. He replied, “I’m going to give you the Spanish-speaking tourist living here for a long time discount” and  told me I didn’t have to pay! LOL He explained the museum layout a bit and told me I could take pictures with flash on all but the third floor. What a nice guy!

So while I’m finding the opening hours in Almería to be frustrating, everyone is so nice and makes me feel so welcome. My host says this is not a touristy part of Spain, but it’s a great off the beaten path destination with plenty to do. Almería centro is compact and walkable, the bus system is decent, and the tourist attractions I’ve been to so far have plenty of English. In fact, there is a lot more English signage than I expected based on what my host told me. However, you will be hard pressed to find someone who speaks English so I can understand why getting a housesitter with Spanish skills was important to my host. It’s not always easy to understand people who speak at a much faster cadence than do Mexicans and with an accent I’m not familiar with, but I’m getting by very well and am not feeling particularly challenged by a language barrier. After my four months in the Balkans, I feel like I’m out of survival mode. Aaaah.

The ground floor of the museum has this impressive timeline that goes right to the top of the museum. It lays out key steps in the history of the area from prehistory to today.

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I was about to translate the start of it and just noticed the English! 🙂

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That thing is really tall! The museum has four floors total, but they are numbered like in the UK, where you get ground, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

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The sides of the column represent a village site. You have to image it lying horizontally.

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I was lucky to be able to see the subaquatic archeology in Almería temporary exhibit that is just about to finish up.

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Here’s a map of this part of Spain. Almería is the capital of the province of the same name. The way Spain is cut up is a bit confusing, but it has a bunch of nations within its borders. Imagine Canada with ten Quebecs. And then, those nations are divided into provinces, the way Quebec is divided into administrative regions, each with a main administrative centre.

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There was a very thick catalogue with all the artifacts.

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The exhibit was very nautical and there was the sound of waves crashing in the background. Very hypnotic!

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I didn’t know what a “moledera” is and Google Translate did not have the answer. I went to a Spanish dictionary and found a definition — it is a grindstone! I submitted that to Google Translate. Wouldn’t it be cool if it’s accepted?

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The Pirate Coast speaks to dangerous times on the high seas!

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Fishing was one of the first industries in the area, especially that of tuna, which is very popular.

Goods were shipped in giant urns that were sometimes repurposed as caskets for children, among other uses.

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I loved the barnacles on some of the objects, speaking to a long time spent at the bottom of the sea.

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This is a lead lingot. Oh, a lingot is an ingot in English. I don’t want to admit how long I’ve been getting that wrong!

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This one has a stamp.

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There was an interesting series of cases showing contemporary Islamic, Roman, and Greek pottery.

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The Islamic, with its bright colours and patterns, was my favourite.

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The Roman was rather boring.

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The Greek is more subdued than the Islamic, but much more interesting than the Roman.

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Next came a few relics from ancient Egypt, including an ostrich egg!

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I then headed upstairs to learn about the Los Millares civilisation.

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But first, I took a look the centre column at that height and realised that it was designed to be examined on each of the levels of the museum. Since each floor is a split level, that’s seven levels. What clever design!

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Reproductions of cave art.

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And artistic representation of what the civilisation might have looked like.

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There were a lot of touch screens all through the museum. Here, I’m scrolling through to get more information on different parts of the diorama.

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This is a description of the diorama. “Inhabitants, visitors, folks, folks that bring, folks that take…” (emphasis mine)

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I was rather impressed by this huge stone wall in the middle of the first floor.

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And that these “primitive” people did what amounts to brain surgery!

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They made arrowheads and there is evidence of warfare on the site.

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This exhibit of funerary practices was creepy as hell. Just after I took this picture, dark shadows came into that green spot of light and I jumped!

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Add in really “Halloweeny” music and the fact that the room was very dark and this was a very disquieting experience.

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This was a rather disquieting piece of art as well.

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Up I went to the second floor to learn about the Argar society, contemporary to the Egypt’s Middle Kingdom.

Again, an impressive artist’s rendering of the society.

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The water reminded me of fruit suspended in gelatine.

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There was an almost maze-like series of exhibits on dietary and funerary practices. The text on the wall sums up the exhibit (hunger, death, fear, metal…).

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The diet was mostly barely, which I learned is a low quality food.

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Half of the population died before the age of six and only a quarter reached adulthood.

There is evidence that food was stockpiled and then distributed.

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There was a random room about Python programming.

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“This is not an exhibit. It is a laboratory. An experiment in progress. A process of dialogue. A toolbox. A message in a bottle. A patch of garden to sow ideas and reap questions….”

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The final floor.

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We finished with the Roman and Islamic societies. The latter is where Almería got its name, from Al-Mariyya (“the Watchtower”).

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I really love mosaic.

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The city of Almería as it is known today appeared in the Middle Ages from a city that was built in the 9th century. It reached its pinnacle in 1147, when it was suddenly conquered and destroyed by the Christian coalition.

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Oil lamps.

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Toys.

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This plaque dates back to the 10th century and is the only thing left marking the official construction of the city.

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Epigraphs from the old mosque of Almería.

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Notice the graffiti.

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A catapult projectile from 1147. Great display for it! Most of the city’s residents were killed or fled.

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Pottery found underwater in the Almería Bay.

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The inside of the museum is a work of art. It’s not beautiful per se, but the way light flows through it and how they use voids and openings to bring things together was inspired, as was how they used all the various levels to present truly massive exhibits.

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They have a series of lockers for stowing personal belongings.

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They cost 1 euro.

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Outside of the museum.

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The entrance. The official address is on Carretera Ronda, but the entrance is on Calle Hermanos Pizón, on the complete opposite side of the block. I walked all the way around before I found it.

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It was past 4:00 by this point, nothing was open, the temps had gone from scorching (30) to BRRR and windy, and I had to get back to work. So I headed to my bus stop. I was happy to pass some Cyrillic on the way. 🙂

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I walked down this lovely pedestrian mall to get to the bus stop.

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It’s a good thing my host had told me where to catch the bus or I would never have found it! The bus route is a bit odd as it does circles in some parts and if I’d tried to catch it where I got off, I would have ended up having to ride the whole route in order to get home. Where my host told me to get on would be the fastest way back even if it meant more walking. I was impressed that this stop had a sign telling us which buses were coming and how soon and not impressed that my bus that was supposed to come every 30 minutes would be arriving in 36!

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But… as I was trying to decide if I was going to walk around the block to see what was what or just hang out and read a book on my phone, my bus pulled up! What great timing!

Off we went. Here’s some proof that it was just a little windy.

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We got to the university and the driver took a break. It was a little strange since I was the only one left on the bus by this point and he kept looking towards me in the mirror. Just as I was going to ask him if I’d misunderstood the schedule and this was the last stop, we took off again. I got off as soon as we turned into my neighbourhood, even though I was pretty sure there another stop closer, and I’m certain I got home faster than if I’d stayed on till the closer stop.

I got in and fed a very put upon cat (who had been fed before I left…), then got back to work for a few hours before having dinner. I was happy I’d made a big veggie stir fry yesterday since I was hungry but too tired to cook and wouldn’t have had a healthy meal otherwise. I love having access to a full size fridge and freeze again so I can make big quantities of stuff!

I should have a reasonable work day tomorrow and Monday and then I’ve got some code cleanup work on the plate for the rest of the week if no other transcription comes in. I wasn’t even gone four hours today (!) and so I’m going to start looking for other short excursions I can do between bouts of work. Time is going by sooooo fast and I know there’s lots more to see so I need to make a plan to get it all done!

11 thoughts on “El Museo de Almería

  1. Another great tour of a museum. You always share with us such good & interesting sites.
    I’m glad for you things are falling into place…work, food, language etc.
    Hugs

  2. Pingback: Almería After Dark |

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