Saturday, 30 January 2016

Saturday 30 January - Almeria

Where’s Colin? He’s not moved an inch from where he was yesterday, on pitch 30 at Camping La Garrofa.

At about 8pm last night this less-than-a-third-full campsite, inhabited almost excusively by Brits, suddenly sounded like it had turned into a Club 18-30 resort. Raucous sounds eminated from the bar area, with occasional blasts of karaoke and completely unnecessary levels of shouting. None of the people we’d seen milling around the site during the day seemed the sort. Either they called it a night early, or our audiobooks drowned it out, as once we were tucked up in bed it didn’t disturb us – a good thing as we had an uncommonly early start planned for today.

We’ve now learnt that some attractions can close at 2pm on a Saturday, so it seemed the best course of action was to arrive in Almeria just as things were opening. Accordingly, we were at the bus stop by 8.20, ready for the 8.30 bus, which finally rolled up at 8.51. It was only a ten minute ride into town, so by the time the castle and museums were just opening their doors, we were making our way via the understated, fortified cathedral (which didn’t look cathedralesque at all)…

…and up some very narrow streets…

…to the Alcazaba, a Moorish castle dating from the 10th century:

Yes, that photo above is of a model, taken at a jaunty angle through its glass case. I couldn’t possibly take a representative picture of the real thing as the place is huge. I didn’t manage a worthwhile shot of the lower level at all, which is all gardens nowadays, but by climbing up onto the wall which separates the lower and middle levels I was able to take this snap, showing the area which is being excavated to reveal the old dwellings, with two (in the foreground) having been rebuilt:

The top level was the bit which was distinctly castle-like:

Having arrived so early that we were the first visitors of the day, it wasn’t until we made our way back down to the lowest level that we started encountering other people. It looked like at least one coachload was in attendance by then, making us even happier with our early start, and our only wish during our visit was that more information had been available as to the history of the place and what we were seeing. Still, considering that entry is free, we couldn’t really complain.  

Finding the Tourist Office was tricky, even though I knew exactly where it was supposed to be. In fact, even stood right outside of it, we struggled to see that it was there. They certainly don’t make these places easy to find! A useful town plan was obtained, but they weren’t able to give us any information about walking routes in the surrounding area.

A pause for coffee and croissant (involving questioning which was incomprehensible to us, so we just said ‘si’ to one of the options; the croissant arrived warm, cut through and buttered, and we can only guess that was the subject of the questions) preceded our visit to the archeological museum. The museum (once we’d located the entrance – another trial) was housed in an impressive modern building but save for its 4-storey high exhibit representing layers of the earth created from 3000BC up to the present day, I wasn’t taken with the rest. There was an enormous amount of space for not a lot of content, and what content there was didn’t tell a coherent story. In my eyes, the equivalent museum in Murcia was definitely the winner between the two of them, even in the abscence of English translations there.

At lunch I demonstrated that I lack the ability to eat a plate of whole fish elegantly, and by the time I had a plate full of skeletons, it was 3.30pm and time to play ‘hunt the bus’. The one we’d caught this morning was a coach, rather than a town bus, which didn’t display a number on the front. It dropped us at a bus stop which displayed no information, and there wasn’t a corresponding stop across the road. Therefore, we had little idea as to which bus we needed or where we could find it. Given that position, it was surprising that we found a likely looking stop without any difficulty, and the first bus that arrived (after only about 5 minutes of waiting) was indeed the one we wanted. Ten minutes later we were back at Colin.

And now, I suppose, I should put a little thought into where to head tomorrow. A little further along the coast? Double back on ourselves to visit the Parque Natural Cabo de Gata? Or head straight into the Sierra Nevada?

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