I thought I’d be out of work today, but, nope, more came in! I still decided to take today off and power through on Thursday so I could go to town today during what I’ve ascertained to be the optimal hours: 10 to 2. I was overdue for a day off and a change of scenery and was out of some groceries that I can’t find at the shop here or at Mercadona in La Cañada. I also needed cash and a top up for my phone and hoped that the Mercado Central would be open.
I managed to be out the door before 10 and got to the bus stop just as a bus was pulling up! I got off at the start of Paseo de Almería, a main thoroughfare, so I could go to the Deutsche Bank. Again, that’s the bank in Spain where I can withdraw money with my Scotiabank card without paying any fees.
There was a Vodafone store almost right next door and I popped in to ask about a phone top up. They were slammed and the attendant told me she couldn’t help me and to go to a bank! I decided to try somewhere else. No, I cannot top up online because you need a Spanish credit card. I believe that’s for the same reason most countries require prepaid SIMs to be registered against a passport: to fight terrorism by making it more difficult to get “burner” phones.
I then tried a phone reseller that doesn’t just do Vodaphone and she told me that I had to top up with the same amount as I’d originally paid, 20 euros! That was not going to happen since it’s not like I’m out and about that much. If I do stay in Spain through the New Year, then I’ll revisit that question. And as it turns out, you can buy phone top ups at most ATMs. Huh.
The Mercado Central was open!
The top floor had produce, meats, cheeses, olives, assorted groceries, baking, and a little café.
It was much “neater” and orderly than the Mexican markets I’ve been to. I was able to look at things without any pressure.
The café can cook up your purchases!
I’d hoped to get a second breakfast in town and the café wasn’t intimidating. I ordered a café cortado and toast with tomato.
My coffee came in a glass and was perfect.
I read the provincial paper as I waited for my food. Like anyone in their right mind, Spaniards are bothered by Trump’s dressing down of the media and what it means for freedom of speech and a free press in the U.S.
My toast came. The first one of these I had had chunks of tomato, but this was just pulp. Still very tasty, especially with olive oil, a bit of salt, and lots of black pepper! The bread was very nice, kind of like a ciabatta. This is such a good breakfast and I’m so grateful my host introduced me to it.
One thing I like about eating out in Spain is that you are not rushed out the door. I wasn’t done with the paper when I’d finished eating and there was no pressure for me to leave. I just sat and kept reading till I was done. There was a fascinating article about a man who survived 438 days lost at sea near the Marshall Islands.
I then went shopping for some produce. No one had grapefruit (!), which, by the way, is “pomelo” here, not “toronja,” but a few people had dragonfruit (pitahaya).
The vendor who had the freshest looking ones had a lot of other nice produce, so I started with him. I asked for a half kilo of cherry tomatoes (had no idea how much that would be, to be honest, but it ended up being the perfect amount!) and he let me sample them. Yum! I wanted a leek, but didn’t know the name, so “the green and white thing to the left of the celery” did the trick. Puerro! He offered to cut off the green part, but I love it, so I declined. I got a few other things, including carrots and onions.
I then wanted some grapes and found a vendor who had some really nice ones. I was again allowed to sample them first.
Then, I headed downstairs to check out the very impressive fish market. I apologise for the terrible pictures!
There’s a small grocery store on the fish level.
I’d left home with my little grocery cart, so I didn’t have to carry my shopping. Isn’t my host thoughtful to have provided it? The cart itself is very light and easy to manoeuvre.
I went back upstairs and ogled the olives for a bit.
There were some lovely cut flowers.
I wandered a bit around the exterior of the mercado and found these grocery carts for sale. I like that pink and white striped one!
Next stop was going to be Lidl. En route, I found some nice artwork at the entrances to two parking garages.
I found myself on the pedestrian street with the “Washington monument.” I looked for a plaque that would explain it, but there was none.
Almería is very pedestrian and cyclist friendly. Just follow the red brick path!
The Lidl here was rather disappointing compared to the one I went to in Sofia. It was mostly a luxury premade goods at a bargain price store and I didn’t find some of the staples I was looking for, like unsweetened almond milk. But I did find some nice cheddar and a vacuum packed roast chicken like I got once in Bulgaria that was very good, so the detour was not for, well, naught.
Like in the Balkans, grocery stores here have a parking space for your cart. You need to give 1 euro deposit, which you get back. When you pay for your groceries, you can put everything back in your big cart or basket, bring it here, and then pack your cart, saving you from having to fiddle with bags. When I shopped in Sofia, I would put everything back into my basket, go to a counter like this, set my backpack on it, and then load up the bag. This keeps the checkout lines moving quickly.
Since I still didn’t have much in the way of groceries, I decided to go to the “Carrefour Market” on Almería that I’d passed on the way to the Mercado. I took a different route there to see more of downtown.
I liked the contrast of that very neat apartment building and the mess across the street.
Found the lovely San Sebastián church.
There was a neat tree out front.
This contrast of architectural styles reminded me of Sofia.
Love this pink building!
The Carrefour Market was tiny and had almost nothing, which surprised me. I thought I must be missing something since there wasn’t even regular milk. So I asked and was told there were two other floors! Oops! The basement had junk food and drinks, the main floor had the deli, some dairy, produce, and premade foods. Upstairs was what you would normally find in the centre of a grocery store.
They had piles of almond milk, but none without sugar. Since I found sugar-free cereal, I decided to go with a container of sweetened milk and was pleased that they had a the same brand I could sometimes get in Yablanista as it really tastes like almonds. I’ve had bad luck with some brands being very chalky. The big Carrefour had the sugar-free in the brand that I like and can get in Canada, the US, and Mexico (Almond Breeze) and I’m kicking myself for having bought only the two containers.
One thing I was super happy to find was another jar of Tikka Masala sauce! I also scored some whole wheat pasta (surprisingly hard to find), and a pizza with barbecue rather than tomato sauce (surprisingly popular in Spain) for just 1.50 euros.
It was about 1:30 by this point and I was hungry again. I went to the bakery area to get something to munch on while waiting for the bus and selected an empanada with curried chicken. The clerk offered to heat it up for me and said that if I paid for it right there, I could eat it right away at their lunch counter rather than wait. Awesome! It was a little light on the chicken, which didn’t surprise me, but the curry sauce was really yummy and a flavour I haven’t had in a very long time.
I then paid for my groceries and loaded my cart. It was full! But I do have to note that I’d bought a pack of toilet paper at Lidl (on mega sale), and that took up quite a bit of space!
When I’d left home this morning, it had been very damp and cold after a solid 24 hours of rain. By the time I came out of the supermarket, it was warm and sunny — ice cream weather! So I stopped at the heladería I’d discovered my first time in Almería and asked for a small scoop of “cheesecake.” The server was very generous! Calories don’t count in such circumstances! I found a bench and took my time savouring my treat.
The bus stop was just a couple of blocks later and I came up just as my bus was pulling up. Talk about good timing today! Since I had my cart, I had to stand all the way home, but I was able to lean against a wall, so that was fine.
The cat was sitting on the roof of my host’s car as I came around the corner. When she saw me, she let out a very indignant meow since I was an hour late giving her her 1PM treat! So I did that before unpacking my groceries. She’s curled up against me now, so I think I’m forgiven!
Here’s my gorgeous dragonfruit:
What a lovely day it’s been! I’ll pay for it tomorrow, but it’s done me a world of good. Almería was a whole other world between 10 and 2!
Before I close out this post, I want to make something very clear. Frustrated as I am by the Spanish schedule, I have to emphasise that I really like Almería!!! It is a beautiful city with a very walkable downtown core, lots of green spaces, a super friendly population, good public transportation, and an affordable cost of living. If I do manage to eventually move to Spain (easiest country for me to get residency and eventually an EU passport), even without having seen much more of this country, I could very well imagine myself in Almería. It ticks a lot, if not all, of my boxes. I still can’t believe I was fortunate enough to get this sit!