I finally managed to get away to Almeria today! I’ll pay for it tomorrow, but it was long overdue. I have to remind myself that I had the “trou d’cul en d’sous du bras” all of last week. Google Translate can translate that phrase literally for you if you’re curious (hee hee), but it basically means I was lethargic.
During the week, there are buses to Almería every 16 minutes from a stop a block from where I’m staying. I headed there around 11:55 and a bus came at about 12:05. The cost is only 1.05 euros one way and the trip takes about 15 minutes. So the only reason I might not be going often is too much work, not the cost or the length of the trip!
It was a proper city bus with not enough seating, but since I was one of the first on, I got to sit the whole way to downtown.
My host took the time to show me not only where to get off, but also where to get up and ring the bell for my stop. So I had no trouble getting orientated at the other end. My plan was to get a map at the tourist info centre (my host provided one in her “welcome kit,” but I wanted something I could scribble on and scrunch up), find a Deutsche Bank to make a withdrawal, and then check out the castle.
The Deutsche Bank ended up being on my route to the info centre and very near the bus stop. So convenient! The budget has reset since it’s a new month and I took out my allowance for this month, a little less generous than normal since I planned to do a big shop with my credit card. So now, I can stop freaking out that things are 1.5 times what the price tag is and just enjoy myself since as long as I don’t spend more than I have, I’m right on budget.
I haven’t had an ice cream since the Balkans besides the one on a stick in Alicante, and was really in the mood for one today. Just past the bank, I saw a giant ice cream cone sign that led me to this ice cream parlour. Gelato was 1.90 euros for a small scoop. In Mexico, I would have use the word “sencilla” (single) to indicate I wanted one scoop. Here, you have to literally say, “one small scoop” (una pequeña bola). I went with Ferrero Rocher. Yum!
I wandered a bit trying to find the tourist info centre, which is at city hall (ayuntamiento, just like in Mexico).
I was greeted there by a young man who was very enthusiastic about his job. By that, I mean that I had a hard time understanding all the wonderful information he had to share, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him to slow down. He circled things on my map that were numbered, so I can refer back to the legend for anything I missed. I did understand his directions to the fortress, the a few different museums, the port, and more, so it’s not like I wasted his time at all. I didn’t realise there would be so much to see here!
Off I headed to the fortress, Alcazaba.
I had to go through old town Almería, which reminded me a lot of Mexico, but with much narrower streets!
What a brave soul to be driving an RV in this part of town, and not a small one either!
Sleep to rest, sleep to dream. But what I liked were the shadow children on the wall.
I finally found the entrance to the fortress!
Up I went, enjoying the increasingly panoramic view of the city. This was a much, much, much, much shorter climb than that in Kotor and Alicante!
I made a new friend! She came right over for a cuddle.
The pine tree seems rather lost!
There’s a whole other section to the fortress, but I don’t think you can go there.
This water feature reminded me of London.
Translating and summarizing from an informational placard, Alcazaba is located on a hill that dominates the whole city and bay. Its location is clearly strategic. Since its origin, it has been the seat and residency of those in power. Inside, buildings built over the course of six centuries are found layered. The history of the fortress is intimately tied to the city of Almería, which during Islamic times was one of the Mediterranean’s most important ports.
The site is interesting in that a lot of it has been reconstructed and is very neat, but there are still plenty of ruins to poke around in.
This garden was really lovely!
I thought that I’d reached the limits, but then I found a way, to the left, off picture, to get to that tower in the back. The site felt immense!
They rebuilt two Arab homes in the traditional style to give us an idea of what they would have been like.
I really like the Arabic style with its inner courtyard, a style that I’ve seen in Mexico and which heavily influenced the construction of the house I’m in now. I really hate the Western style of house where you open the front door and, voilà, there’s your whole life on show. I much prefer the Arabic style that has a transition from public to private space. The house I’m in now is actually exactly what I’m hoping to find in Mérida and so the bar is going to be set very high!
So this is the patio/inner courtyard:
Toys in those times are not unlike “Western” toys. They were miniaturized versions of tools the children would use when they grew up.
This would have been the hammam (baths):
I initially thought these were cat paw marks in the flagstones!
Now, I’m heading up to the south tower.
It was past two by this point and I still had my shopping to do and work as well, so it was time to go. I was able to take a different route back to the entrance and found some lovely tile and stonework.
I wonder if anyone ever gathers dates from these trees.
If it wasn’t for the street being so narrow, I could have been in Mexico here.
I had about a 2KM walk to the Carrefour grocery store. Google Maps did a mediocre job of getting me there, but I passed some interesting things along the way. I noted that all the businesses except for a few restaurants were closed for siesta. It is going to be very tricky to time future trips into Almería. I think between 10AM and 2PM will be my best bet.
Wow, talk about flashbacks to walking the Mall in Washington D.C.!
I eventually made it to Carrefour, a major European hypermarket (one-stop shopping like Super Walmart, but with higher end and pricier goods). I knew that Carrefour wouldn’t have the best prices, but it would have the best variety. I had a budget of about 100 euros, 150CAD, and wanted to buy enough to get me through the month, minus a few perishables and meals out. I doubted that was realistic (150CAD does not go far at all in Canada), but I’d see how it went.
I went through the entire store very slowly, enjoying being able to read the labels and ingredients, and added up my purchases as I went along to keep myself on track. It quickly became evident that my budget was actually… generous. I was shocked! I got everything on my list and was even able to add luxury items, like frozen pizzas and a jar of Patak’s tikka masala sauce (I cannot believe they had that!!!)! I took advantage of a lot of three for two sales (hence the pizzas… and the vanilla pudding) and came out of there for just 88CAD!
Part of me thought, hey, you’re taking a taxi home, so go back and get more stuff. But another part of me thought that I’m only here another six weeks. So I’ll see how long this lasts me and do another shop at the end of the month if I need to.
Checkout took ages because their computer system crashed as the gal went to hit the total button! I thought she was going to have to rescan everything, but, thankfully, no.
Before going into the store, I’d made sure there was a taxi stand out front, which there was, so I had no trouble getting one. I’d gone to the company’s website and calculated the cost of the ride would be just under 10 euros, well worth it to get my frozen stuff home quickly! The driver and I had a bit of a laugh as we came into my neighbourhood because I didn’t know the one ways, only how to get around on foot. But, thankfully, I got us here with no detours. The cost was exactly what the website had estimated!
The cat was waiting for me by the door and let me know just how mad at me she was for missing her 1PM treat and being late for her 4PM treat. So getting her those treats was my first priority before putting everything away!
Next, I made an early dinner since I hadn’t had lunch because I’d had eaten a large brunch of veggie stir fry before heading out. I went for rice and curried chicken (Patak’s). YUM! I haven’t had curry since Plovdiv so the flavours were very welcome. I could tell that the sauce, made in England, would be different from the sauce I get in Canada, spicier and less creamy, but it was still very yummy and satisfying.
I’m so glad I finally broke the ice on going to Almería. At less than 3CAD round trip, I hope to make it in at least once a week, if not twice, depending on my work schedule, and take my time exploring and getting to know downtown. It seems like a very lovely and liveable city. My setup here feels a lot like where I lived in Mazatlán, being in a pretty much full service small beachfront community, but with a large vibrant city a very short distance away. I’m rather sad I’ll only get six weeks, not months, here!