A Jaunt to Halifax

Just when I thought work was going into a lull, it picked up again. 2016 was all about travel, but 2017 needs to be a bit more work focused. So I’m glad there isn’t too much around here to distract me, just enough to give me a change of scenery if I need it. I haven’t been able to take a full day off, but a half day to run into Halifax was doable. I got up super early compared to what my schedule has been and was able to do three hours of work by 10:30 so that even with a stop at Barclay’s, I was on the 10:47 bus. I was pleased that a day rider is just £4 considering that a single into Halifax is £3.

Halifax was a centre of woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward. There’s really not much there from a touristy point of view, which was confirmed when I stopped in at the visitor centre behind the bus station (it’s in the library). I was irked to learn that the one thing I had planned to do was closed today, which I had not noticed on their website. Augh.

Like everywhere else I’ve seen in the area, Halifax is a modern town fitted into Victorian buildings. Even new construction has to fit into this aesthetic. I’m a fan of the programme “Grand Designs,” so I know how much work it takes to get planning permission to build in a more modern style pretty much anywhere into the UK.

Halifax’s shopping core is compact and has the expected assortment of shops.

I found the Borough Market, dating back to the Victorian era. It had a surprisingly Mexican feel to it.

Here’s a bit of the exterior of the market.

I love pub names…

Just a regular old bank. I am pleased that this architectural style isn’t something I’m used to yet.

Here’s another side of the market.

Halifax town hall.

I decided to go to my closed destination as I suspected there would be enough to do outdoors to make the one-mile trek there worthwhile. First, I stopped for lunch at a decent and very reasonably priced Chinese buffet restaurant. I tried some new things, like Mongolian style beef and duck. I was really impressed by the variety and quality of the food, especially the abundance of veggies and fruits. Then, off I went across the North Bridge.

On the other side, I saw my friend Vicki’s dream car. Can you spot it?

How about now?

Double decker buses aren’t exclusive to London.

I started to climb high above Halifax along a busy motorway. The walk was pedestrian friendly, but not obvious. I would sometimes take what I thought was a footpath and then have to double back to try a different approach as the roadway split many times and I’d find myself on the wrong side with no place to cross.

It had been sunny when I arrived, but the promised rain was rolling in and it was getting colder.

I spotted a church on a hill.

I love this billboard’s message.

The city quickly gave way to a rural landscape filled with sheep.

See the sheep looking straight at me? It was a little unnerving.

And voilà, Shibden Hall!

The earliest parts of this home date all the way back to the 1420s and it was heavily renovated by Anne Lister in the early 1800s to be more like what a proper Tudor home should be. Anne Lister is considered the “first modern lesbian.” I didn’t think I’d heard of her, but now I’m pretty sure I saw a Sue Perkins thing where she talks about her. Yup, I sure did.

I arrived at the West Terraces. From a plaque: “The West Terraces were constructed, along with the South Terrace, by John Harper as part of the improvements he designed for Anne Lister in 1836. Surrounded by mature trees, the Terraces are cut into the natural slope of the landscape and have stone retaining walls.” They held an orchard with all sorts of fruits with different growing seasons so there could be fruit throughout much of the year.

Anne had this Gothic tower added to the house and it became her library.

The gate at the back of the house was open, so I thought surely it would be okay to have a poke around…

I love the giant stone toadstools.

Well, just as I was heading back to wards the gate, a guy came out of the house to tell me they are closed. I apologised and said I was just trying to see as much of the exterior as I could since I hadn’t realised they were closed on Fridays. He sighed and said that he was waiting for a school group to come back, so why didn’t I come in and have a peek at the interior? Just a peek, though! What a nice guy!!!!

He led me into a hallway with dark wood panelled walls and a low ceiling. I was able to see a fairly standard Victorian kitchen. He then told me I could go look at the most interesting room in the house, to him anyway, a formal sitting room off the main hall. It had much higher ceilings. He explained that the original 1420 stuff is all there, but basically buried by Anne’s renovations. He showed me how the old beams were covered with planks to make them seem bigger and how one of the reasons for the lower ceilings was to make the rooms easier to heat. This is where he told me all that stuff about Anne Lister that I recounted above and that the house is only a museum now and there are no residents.

Obviously, he was doing me a huge favour and I didn’t want to take advantage, so I thanked him and headed out. It sucks that I didn’t get to see the whole property, but at least I didn’t go all the way out there for nothing. Some people are so kind!

It was almost two when I got back into Halifax and I was surprisingly rather footsore and tired. I blame all the hills and stairs in this area. It’s really not hard to get a good amount of exercise even when walking a short distance. I thought of maybe getting a coffee, but went down to the bus station to see when my next bus home would be. Well, there was one right there about to pull out, so I decided to get on.

The ride home was a bit faster than the ride in had been since there wasn’t as much traffic, but it was still almost 40 minutes. I didn’t see anything on either ride that I felt I need to go back out and explore.

I can’t believe I have less than a week left here! This time next week, I’ll be back in Manchester and on my way to my next assignment!

Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (Bags and Purses), Museum Willet-Holthuysen, and Rembrandt House Museum

I slept in a tad this morning and took it easy since I’ve been getting up early since I got here. I did a bit of my work for the day and set off late morning for the third museum in Amsterdam that I might have visited had I had to pay piecemeal for each entry: the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, the largest such museum in the world.

The sky was a strange colour as I stepped out of my flat.

I love this purple building at the end of my block, a good example of how a building can be colourful, but not garish.

Moped parking spaces.

What is that blinding thing in the sky?!

A museum devoted to cat stuff. Sadly closed today.

The Museum of Bags and Purses is in a canal building and the exhibits cover the history of bags from the 16th century to present day. The building housing the museum was built in 1664 for a former mayor of Amsterdam, Cornelis de Graeff, and restored as the museum in 2007.

I took about 50 billion pictures in this museum, but since everything was behind glass and I couldn’t use a flash, not many came out well. So I will show restraint. 🙂 I went through twice, so the pictures are going to be out of order. You enter the museum into a ground floor bag shop and then go up to the third floor to then work your way down.

Gaming purses.

Beaded bags were quite a luxury. They were first knit, then woven. Some have as many as 50,000 beads.

The need for sturdier bags made leather popular as the train travel age started.

Tortoiseshell was popular, but expensive and finicky. Advances in plastics made it possible to create replicas.

Snake skin with ivory clasp.

Prickly pear fibres and lace, dating back to 1789!

Chatelaines, which hung from a belt and then things like a thimble, watch, keys, sewing kit, etc. would hang from them.

Bags with silver frames were passed down from mother to daughter. The frame would be reused with a new bag.

Men’s leather bag. Bags for men fell out of favour as their clothing got pockets.

Very similar to chainmail.

Until recently, it was mandatory for Dutch schoolchildren to have a leather bag like these. Now, many use backpacks.

These were used before the leather bags. They held a tablet and stylus and served as a lap desk.

Novelty bags.

I like the stegosaurus look with the turquoise knobby bits.

All sorts of travelling cases.

These were popular as plastic became a common material.

Tulip bag.

I had to pay a 1.50 euro surcharge as they have a special exhibit about royal bags. I breezed through this on my first pass as it was crowded.

These belonged to Queen Elizabeth II.

I had kind of sort of thought to treat myself to a cream tea in their café, but it was closed today. I was told to help myself to free coffee or tea and cookies, though! Wow! Am I glad I didn’t get a coffee before going in and, of course, this rather makes up for the supplement I had to pay. 🙂

The café setting is extraordinary.

The crowd had gone through, so I went back to the top and started all over.

This 16th century bag had secret compartments. Intriguing.

Very pretty. Kind of looks like Mount Fuji?

Closeup of chatelaines with “stuff” on them.

Yup, Charlie Chaplin.

Very heavy cut steel bags.

See the teeny pencil?

Art Deco bags.


Peacock feather bags.

Lobster bag, LOL

Margaret Thatcher’s “Weapon.” Google it!

Gateau (cake) bag.

“Socks” bags after the Clintons’ cat. To the left of it is a picture of Hillary Clinton holding it.

Versace bag used by Madonna at the premiere of “Evita.”

Sunflower bag.

Love the budgies.

*Swoons* Love that snake head clasp!

This bag was held by a member of the Dutch royal family and we got to see how it was selected and dyed to match the dress.

This jewel was in a toilet stall!

And this one in another stall!

Wall hanging.

Amusing donations box.

I’m always attracted to bags with such bright colours (we’re in the shop now!).

The Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses was incredible. I am a real bag nut, but not in the sense of wanting expensive designer bags that I’m afraid to use. I love finding unique bags at thrift shops, especially well worn leather ones. I have little patience now for bags made of PVC that will age quickly. There were so many bags in the shop that I would have loved and not all were at terrifying prices. I would definitely consider this museum a place to shop for a nice bag and I think it would be lovely to have high tea in their café, although if you factor in the price of admission, it’s extremely pricey. Definitely something I’d consider if I was a Museumkaart owner living here full-time, as that would reduce the total cost immensely.

I didn’t get anywhere near the next museum on my list when I passed one that was right up my alley, but hadn’t been on the list of Museumkaart member museums I’d consulted. I’d figured out that that list was outdated since none of the admission prices were right. So I went in and asked if I could get in free. Yes! It is the Museum Willet-Holthuysen, which gives you the opportunity to wander all through a canal house that was willed to the city of Amsterdam for public use in the 19th century. I’m a bit of a voyeur in that I like to go through houses and see how they’re decorated, so I could not miss this!

You know straightaway that the family was rich because they had one one set of stairs but two leading up to the front door. But you enter the building through the basement door.

Looking down the basement hallways to the kitchen and the back of the house.

All of these items were crocheted, LOL!

Some of the kitchen wall tiles had interesting details.

Even the clock was crocheted!

The secondary kitchen, for messy chores.

The garden at the rear of the house.

Look towards the front of the house.

You then go up this magnificent staircase to the first floor of the house, with the public rooms.

The front door.

The house had a doorbell.

The women’s salon, where the owner, Louisa Holthuysen, received her guests.

The ballroom, where they had parties.

The stunning blue “club room,” where the husband, Abraham Willet, received his male friends.

Love that painting at the top.

The ceiling.

Love this painting too.

The dining room had a low ceiling because there is a pantry above, halfway between this floor and the next. The brochure said the pantry was not open to the public, but it was. Signage throughout the property indicates that they are constantly renovating it, so I guess the brochure is a tad outdated.

Now into the conservatory at the rear of the house.

Signage says this room needs a lot of work to return it to its former vibrancy.

Heading upstairs to the private rooms, I found the entrance to the pantry. This room would have held a lot of valuable items, so only the mistress of the house would have had a key and the room would have been regularly inventoried.

Heading up from the pantry.


This staircase would have led to the garret, which had the laundry facilities. To the left is Abraham’s library.

Can you see the door in the corner? It led to one of Louisa’s rooms. This way, they could go see each other without having to pass any servants.

My flat has a seat like this. Really like it. 🙂

Can you imagine sitting at that desk looking down to the garden?

There is another “secret” door in the library, but there was no mention of where it leads.

Stained glass in the hall.

Garish carpet in the “collection room.” Louise and Abraham were very well to do and did not have children. They spent their time collecting art and socializing.

The incredible wallpaper in the collection room.

The rest of the house was “modernised” by Louise and Abraham when they married, but this room kept the traditional dark wood Dutch furnishings from a hundred years prior.

Then, the bedroom.

The bed was actually two twin beds pushed together.

The wash area. Hot water had to be brought up from the basement.

Another secret door.

Chest in the hallway.

Abraham and Louisa. She inherited the house from her father. They married in their late thirties.

The final spaces exhibit some of Louisa and Abraham’s things.

Hat and umbrella stand (I think) by the visitor entrance.

The two entrances.

What an extraordinary treasure this museum was!

I headed towards my next destination and kept my eye out for food along the way. I’m really not into the whole holiday thing, but there are some decorations that I really enjoy. These are so pretty.


Drawbridge over a canal.

Chipotle-style burrito shop.

Back of the house, with the garden again.

Approaching Rembrandt Square. I went the opposite way of my next destination, but this area was my best bet for lunch.

Statue of Rembrandt with The Night Watch.


NOT New York style pizza, but it hit the spot!

This is a cinema.

I prefer the real kind, thank you very much (yes, this is candy sushi!).

There are so many wonderful cheese shops in Amsterdam.

I found a second-hand store where you pay by the weight. A tee-shirt is about 5 euros and a kilogram costs about 35 euros. They had really lovely stuff.

My final destination of the day was the Rembrandt House, which he owned before foreclosing and going bankrupt and in which he painted many of his masterpieces. Again, I’m not a fan of Rembrandt, so I wouldn’t have paid to do this, but I thought it would be interesting to see his studio and, of course, I like house tours.

Well… I was about to start in the museum when a staff member told me I had to check my purse. That was not going to happen! I’ve never been asked to check it before as it is not huge. I told her that I had all my valuables in it and would take care to not have it hit walls or anything. She sarcastically retorted that I don’t care about my stuff since the zipper was open! What business is it of hers if I choose to have my bag open somewhere that there is nobody around?! So that set a sour tone for the tour.

Then, employees hovered around me during my entire time in the museum. I thought I was imagining things, but one guy followed me almost all the way through and whenever I’d look up, I found him staring at me. Finally, I got told off for trying to take pictures (no flash) when literally every other customer was taking pictures and not being told to desist! All I can think is that because I didn’t pay for admission, I wasn’t considered a real guest?

So needless to say, I didn’t get much out of my visit because I was so distracted and I rather regret expending the energy of getting to the Rembrandt House. It is crazy expensive (12.50 euros) and quick to tour, so I don’t recommend anyone go unless they have a Museumkaart and/or are huge fans of Rembrandt.

At any rate, the audio guide was really good. The most interesting thing I learned is that people at the time slept in a sort of cabinet and that they reclined rather than laid flat.

When Rembrandt declared bankruptcy, an inventory of all his possessions was made. That combined with sketches he made of his home made it possible to furnish the restored space very realistically. It was interesting to see his collections room with things like seashells, exotic stuffed animals, and books. A few of his works are exhibited in the house, including those of four of the five senses, the first of his works that I actually rather like.

But, of course, the pièce de résistance was his studio. What struck me when I came into it was the light. It was a good reminder that I should place my own studio where it faces north to get that soft consistent light that is so perfect for a painting studio. There was someone there demonstrating how Rembrandt would have made his own paints and I got to smell that wonderful scent of linseed oil I love so much.

Upstairs from the main studio was another studio where Rembrandt’s students studied. It must have been cold up there in winter as there was no obvious source of heat the way there were two stoves in Rembrandt’s space.

Finally, there was a series of rooms with drawings and etchings made by some of Rembrandt’s students. I was tired by this point and ready to leave, so I rather breezed through this and didn’t even catch the artist’s name. I just wasn’t keen on his style.

It was mid-afternoon by this point and I was done. I asked Google Maps to get me home and decided I couldn’t justify a tram, so off I went.

Amsterdam is very damp so you see mossy footpaths all over the place.

I was afraid to ask the price of that cute Batman purse in case it was affordable!

While I knew that Maps was sending me in the right direction when I set off, I found myself walking longer than expected without having to turn. I realised that Maps had stopped navigating and that I was farther from home than when I’d started! This would happen three times before I figured out that because I was asking Maps to navigate to a landmark that was closed, it figured I was an idiot and didn’t mean to go there. Google’s idiocy never fails to astound me! And I was using the landmark because Maps doesn’t recognise my address. *sighs*

I put the app away in disgust and decided that even though I was really getting too close to home to make it worth taking a tram, I would. I passed the blumenmarkt on the way, a floating market selling all manner of flowers and bulbs.

There was a bit of a wait for a tram when I got to a stop, so I popped into the supermarket right there to get some dinner stuff (been shopping daily) and when I got out, the tram was just pulling up. It felt absolutely ridiculous to pay 4CAD to go about four stops or just shy of 2KM, but I was footsore (still breaking in my new boots) and really tired as I hadn’t sat down since I left except for the few minutes when I had my coffee. My tram driver was really sweet!

I got in and went straight work, then made a curry for dinner. The Patak sauces that I like that are such a luxury in Canada are super cheap here (but of course), so I’m working my way through all the flavours I haven’t tried yet. Why not? 🙂

This will be my last really full day out for a bit as I have larger quantities of work to do every day. But I should still be able to go out to do a museum every afternoon.

My Museumkaart has already paid for itself and I am 22 euros or 32CAD ahead!

A Well Planned Day In Málaga Does Not Go According to Plan

I had a lovely Monday evening in Málaga. My host was in and I felt comfortable hanging out in the sitting room while she made dinner. We chatted, a glass of wine was offered, and before I knew it, I was sharing her meal! It was almost ten by this point and I’d had my dinner, but rice noodles with veggies went down very well! I got to know a bit more about her and she about me. I marvelled that I could understand her as well as I do when I struggle so much with speaking. I know, I know, I need more practice like this! I’m taking some conversation classes when I get to England (!) and will find some when I get to Mérida. I want formal one-on-one sessions where my mistakes are corrected.

I eventually called it a night and got up late again this morning to find that she’d left out a pile of stuff for me to have for breakfast if I wanted. I have some of my own things, but the fresh bakery buns have been a treat! I planned my day over breakfast, making a list of a couple of museums that seemed interesting and something to do.

My first stop today was a nearby train (underground) station my host directed me to, saying that it is a much easier and cheaper way to get to the airport. I found it easily thanks to her clear instructions and will definitely be using it to get to the airport tomorrow. She’s amused that I’m leaving at eight for an 11:30 flight while I’m freaked out at not being at the airport at least three hours before my flight!

My next stop was just a few blocks away. I passed an artists supply store on the way. I miss oil painting so much and have promised myself that I’ll take it up again when I get to Mexico.

I used to have a suitcase with all of these things in it.

So my next stop was the central market:

Inside, there was brisk business going and throngs of people. I saw fish, meats, and seafood, but no produce in the parts that I explored.

So many olives!

Here’s that amazing stained glass from outside.

What an interesting building!

I then wandered by the waterfront and remembered that I wanted to check out the Ferris wheel. I decided that if the cost for a ride was less than 20 euros, I would do it!

The cost was only 10 euros! I got a car all to myself. This is the Mirador Princess and moves from city to city. It is the tallest itinerant Ferris wheel in Europe. The London Eye is much taller, but is not strictly speaking a Ferris wheel.

Looking towards Alcazaba.

Africa is off in the distance.

A sign that I’m on my Path!

At the top!

The lighthouse.


Done! It was so fast and, to be honest, I was rather disappointed because I barely had time to see anything.

Oh, wait. Off we go again! I was SO happy! I didn’t take many pictures the second time, preferring to soak in the view.

To my immense delight, we went around a third time! This time, I was stopped at the top for more than five minutes!

Here’s a terrible video I shot while I was up there. Unfortunately, the app I used to use to edit doesn’t work the same way anymore and I don’t know how to cut things out. So enjoy my stream of consciousness… 🙂

I then walked along the waterfront. It was cool, but the sun was bright and almost hot. I knew I had to savour it as this is likely going to be my last sunny day in months…

I like the name of this malecón area, palm grove of surprises.

Look how the shadows add interest to the structure.

I found the maritime museum, which I hadn’t seen any of the Málaga museum lists. It was seven euros and something told me not to bother.

I headed back towards Centro.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Ferris wheel trying to figure out this picture. At first glance, it looks like the iconic image of a mother with her children during the Depression, but doesn’t it look like actor John Malkovich?! It is. He was part of a project where he recreated a bunch of iconic photographs. Striking!

My next stop was the Palacio de Aduenas (palace of customs), the new home of the Málaga Museum. Its brand new, only a week old, and there is almost zero information about it online. I just knew that it houses in one building fine arts and archeological exhibits. It sounded like my kind of museum and more interesting than anything else I thought to see today, but I didn’t know if it’d be open or even affordable.

The museum turned out to be free for EU residents and a whopping 1.50 euros for others. 🙂

The building is beautiful. The ground floor has the lobby, the first floor has fine arts, and the second floor has the archeology collection.

I did the first floor backwards for some reason and started with the history of the customs house and the Málaga Museum. There were marches in the street demanding that Málaga’s iconic customs building become the new home of the city museum. It was amazing to see such interest in the project!

And then, I moved on to the fine arts portion of the museum, where I started with this rather interesting portrait of Fred Astaire.

I’ll just share a few things that struck me.


NOT a peanut…

This is an orange tree.

This autopsy scene had me mesmerised!

A mother with her children.

Artist’s son. Looks like a spoiled brat, no?

This one got a WOW from me!

The English translation on this one made me laugh since French is apparently the language of fine arts. “Plein air” means “outdoors” and “rapprochement” means becoming closer.

Scenes from Venice.

I loved this nearly photographic scene!

This “gloomy winter” scene reminds me of home.

I then headed up to the archeology portion of the museum.

I like how they kept the neoclassical feel of the space, but incorporated more modern features as well.

The building is around a central courtyard.

Most of the exhibits in this section were behind glass and did not photograph well at all. I learned about the history of the region, from Neanderthals through to the Middle Ages. So interesting!

Neanderthal bones.

A recently discovered tomb that was in perfect condition.

The first of several wonderful mosaics.

This incredible mosaic was found by a guy renovating his house. It features Venus at its centre.

The museum was not shy about admitting that there are artifacts located in it that have nothing to do with the area, but were brought here to build a fake history that would strengthen Spain’s ties to the Aryan race during WWII. Here’s Himmler during his visit to Spain.

I was sad that I could not go out onto the balcony to view these in greater detail.

When I was done with this part of the museum, I took the stairs up that modern wooden box I showed earlier. At the top, I got to see the roof tiles close up. Can you see why they are remarkable?

They are etched with a scene from Málaga! There was no signage directing me to this. What a find!

I was about to leave when a guard asked if I’d visited the almacén. That’s a word I learned on the way from Almería and knew as meaning “warehouse.” Here, they mean it as a storeroom.

So many more treasures! This wound up being my favourite part of the museum!

Another guard came over as I left this section and told me to open all those drawers! One surprise after another! By the way, those museum guards were so kind and attentive!

Hands to go with the collection of feet.



Bottle stoppers (I think).


A plate with my initial on it. 🙂

This one made me gasp. I can’t believe it’s shut up in a drawer!

There was a section of models.



This pitcher was a lovely rose colour; rather unusual.

I was able to access the courtyard from the ground floor.

I do believe that’s a pineapple.

Looking up to the modern roof.

I spent almost three hours at this museum! It was too late to do anything else on my list! I found a menú del día for a very late lunch (inexpensive, adequate, but nothing to write home about), and then headed home to start packing!

I ended up having a little work to do this afternoon, so I didn’t go back out again. It’s now getting late and I have an early start tomorrow, so I’m signing off. I’m not sure where my time in Spain went, but by this time tomorrow, I’ll be settling into my new life in Amsterdam. The adventure continues!

A Lovely Saturday Morning in Almería

I slept the sleep of the dead (my room is pitch black and dead quiet if the wind isn’t blowing!), waking up at just shy of 10 this morning. Well, there went my plans to get on an “early” (9:30) bus to town! But, hey, this is Spain and things move slowly and I wasn’t going to let myself be rushed by this change of plans. 🙂 I made the 10:30(ish) bus with the plan to get partway to town and then walk along the Malecón.

I keep forgetting to mention that I live near the university, with the presence of a university being another reason I like Almería as a potential Spanish home should I move here.


I got off at the senior citizens home, which, like in French, is called a “home for those of the third age.”


It was supposed to be sunny today and good Malecón walking weather. At least, it wasn’t windy and the temperature was comfortable!


First stop was a shop to see if they had boots and a coat. Yes, but nothing I wanted. I need to shop in earnest for these items before I leave for Amsterdam as they will be much less expensive here, plus I’d rather land there with season appropriate clothes, never mind that I can actually describe to shopkeepers here what I want! There are a few used clothing stores that I am going to make a point to visit for the coat. And, yes, I should have no problem finding what I want here. I’m going to temps hovering above freezing so I’m not even looking for lined boots, just something leather that I can waterproof.

I had had only coffee at home and my tummy was growling when I came out of the store, so I went to the café right next door for sustenance. No complaints about breakfast in this part of Spain! 🙂 It was only 1.90 euros!


View from breakfast.


And then off I went towards downtown Almería.


Here’s an example of how you can make an area look better than it is if you select the right camera angle. So rather ugly with those light posts:


And rather paradisal without!




Interesting apartment building.


This “Indian” restaurant had a really varied menu! They do have Indian (Hindu) food on the right-most part of the menu, but they also have pasta, falafel, pizza, and chicken fingers.


Love the name of this ice cream parlour/café.


Looking back the way I came.




The water was so clear!


Can you see the lighthouse in the distance?


How about now?



Nearly there, I found some lovely flowers.



At the “nautical club,” I found this interesting subterranean entrance.



There’s another one.


And another!


This bridge leads to the “English Cable” (ore dock).


On the yellow entrance, I got some answers! They are entrances to parking garages. Quite a lot of instructions for getting to your car between midnight and 7AM. You can only enter at that time through the blue and green entrances.


I really like that brick bridge.


Rather sudden stop for the railway line!


Saddest forest I’ve ever seen… 🙂


The English Cable from beneath it.



Here’s the defunct Gran Hotel Almería.


The name of it tickles my fancy since I’m a fan of the Spanish show “Gran Hotel” and have been frustrated to not find the last season with (Spanish) subtitles. I got through the first two seasons without any issue, but I’m still not at the point where I can handle Spanish-language audio without the aid of subtitles, which can be in Spanish. I’m just more of a visual person. Anyway, this was a reminder to go search again as I was left on a cliff hanger!




The city was starting to be decorated for the holiday season.


The art museum was open and I had time to visit the exhibit about fashion at the time of Queen Isabel I (late 15th, early 16th century — the time of Christopher Columbus). Entry was 3 euros.


Can you believe this was a mere lady-in-waiting’s outfit?


All the informational placards were in Spanish only and I learned a lot of new vocabulary! My dictionary app got quite a workout. Most of the clothes in the exhibit were made of silk and/or cotton.

This dress belonging to a sultana was my favourite of the entire exhibit. Just love the teal with the purple and lime green (same colour scheme as my Isla casita my last winter there!).


More Moorish outfits.


Armour with a magnificent cloak.


More armour.



I saw some original 16th century documents signed by Carlos I himself regarding repairs to the fortress of Alcazaba after the earthquake of 1522. And other document that let me see the signatures of the “Catholic kings.”

The next room in the exhibit had clothes related to the court of Isabel I.




Why don’t we dress so beautifully anymore?!



I could see myself in this “simple” lady-in-waiting’s dress.


Queen Isabel’s coronation gown.


I learned that Queen Isabel like bright colours, stiff fabrics like taffeta, and also favoured brocades.

The final room was about the world of Isabel.


Love these knitted leggings. They seem to be in what I know as “point de sillon,” which is knit two, purl one.




Isabel’s mourning (luto) gown.


The dress she wore for her wedding to Ferdinand of Aragon.


Her books of prayers (rezos — told you I was learning a lot!).


I learned that the Catholic kings got control of Almería and forced out Muslims who would not convert.

Here’s Queen Isabel. Rather a shame they didn’t have a portrait of her in one of the dresses on display.


Queen Isabel was very interesting! She was a woman ahead of her time who put forth the interests of women in a world governed by men. She introduced Spain to the Renaissance and to the spread of Christianity through art, politics, and fashion. The sign I’m translating from also says she was the first queen in history to be queen in her own right and not a consort, with all the powers of a male sovereign, but surely they mean that for Spain only.

There were many signs that claimed that she was all for the rights of Native Americans and prevented them from being treated like slaves, proclaiming them humans equal to Europeans, but I took that with a grain of salt…

Familiar looking armour:


Spain was unified through the wedding of Isabel and Ferdinand, creating the strongest state in Europe at the time and the Spanish hegemony.

And here is Queen Isabel’s will… which spells out her defence of Native Americans. Wow!


Incredible inventions of the 14th century included the compass (brújula) and the astrolabe.


Finally in this museum, I saw a painting that made me think of early fall in Quebec when folks go apple picking (“aller aux pommes.”)


Here’s the coronation gown in the context of the museum. Well placed! I also loved the period appropriate music that played softly.


Exterior of the museum:


I next head towards the central market to pick up some produce when I came across this wonderful little street market! It’s that time of year. There were so many lovely things for sale and prices were very reasonable.




I saw these earrings marked just 2 euro and had to have them! The seller and I chatted for a bit since he was curious to know where I was from because he rarely sees non-Spanish tourists, especially in the off season. When I went to pay, he would only accept 1 euro!


Since I had dinner out last night, I didn’t need lunch out and so decided to get an ice cream. I went with cappuccino flavour, which, as expected, tasted very similar to a Tim Hortons iced capp.

I continued on to the central market and it was much busier than last time! I wanted a few things to turn a chicken carcass into broth and looked for someone who would sell me only two stalks of celery.


That was easily done and I also got a few other things from him since he had really nice produce, including grapes. My total was almost 5.50 euros and he would only accent 5, even with my having exact change! Have I mentioned recently just how lovely Almeríans are?!

I walked around a bit and saw something I haven’t seen in a very long time, romanesco, which I had discovered in Yukon of all places.


I felt a little silly walking around with the end of my celery sticking out of my bag. The seller had offered to cut it off, but it adds so much flavour to broth that I declined. He thought I hadn’t understood him and had held up a knife to mimic doing it. So I told him my plan (yay for knowing “caldo de pollo”) and he went, “Ah! Of course!” But I took him up on his offer to cut the greens off the carrots.


I popped into the Carrefour Market to get some soup noodles of some sort and stored my purchases in one of their little lockers (1 euro deposit).


As it turns out, the edible polystyrene is called “prawn bread.” I picked up some Chinese noodles on the same shelf.


I examined a full wall of “turrón,” which my dictionary informed me is nougat. Hard to resist!


Especially the marzipan!


My purchases were a bit heavy (I hadn’t brought the cart) and it was getting close to two, when everything closes, so I headed to a bus stop, where I had to wait 15 minutes. I made the mistake of riding home on a seat facing the wrong direction and got in feeling quite nauseated!

Here’s a map of my route today:


I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable Saturday morning off! Back to the grindstone tomorrow. 🙂

In Which I Make It to Almería’s Mercado Central

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!