Oh Scottie! Beam me out or show me the charms of Almería quickly, before I decide it’s a boring dump. Mostly buildings are relatively new, like those in the cities of Lucena and Cabra I described so unkindly earlier. Newish, uninteresting but built on a very extended and fascinating history, dating back beyond who knows when. Today I see what exists now, not what may have existed. So I’m not excited.
Well, some houses do look pretty good in their landscape. Despite how I felt about them. Have I been in Andalucía too many times and for too long?
The prevalence of Arab script on the way from the bus station to the hotel puzzled me. Like a bit of ‘our glorious past’ long ago disappeared and unresurrectable. Sigh.
Ugh. I’ve just moved tables in an outside cafe to avoid cigarette smoke. 😑
Camino Mozárabe next leg
The Granada to Almería section of the bus route was close to the camino at times. So I’ve got some idea of the different terrains I’ll walk through.
This end is like a moonscape, mine tailings, or the ecologically devastated area around Queenstown, Tasmania, 50 years ago.
You can see it in a few photos in this blog chapter. Barren. And yet there are some green gullies in the apparent disaster zone. So, interesting too. Heading closer to Granada I expect huge green houses full of small (I don’t know what) plants and then acres of trees, almonds and more olives.
A new day in Almería
Ugh! I should move tables to avoid the smoke again. Different day, cafe and meal. Almost impossible in a country of smokers. The cars and bikes racing past displace the smoke and leave diesel fumes. So nah. Can’t be bothered.
I’ve done what I wanted, checked both spanish SIM cards have €. Oh, and had another coffee and an orange juice. And I’ve been served by the best camarero in Spain. His capacity to remember orders, calculate bills etc has to be behind this cafe having more local people in it for their first coffee of the day than in any others here abouts. A very impressive guy.
Market here has some of the best fruit and vegetables I’ve seen anywhere. Variety and very fresh.
One of the most impressive I’ve seen. Definitely worth visiting. Definitely. Oh wow. Essentially dating back a thousand years. High upon a rocky hill overlooking the city. Big. Very big.
Built, bits rebuilt as circumstances and leaders changed, and so on throughout all that time. Archaeologists in earlier periods made a bit of a mess as they removed items for museums. I am always a sucker for the Arab water features and their use of vegetation. Makes an area look and feel good.
Irrespective of what’s been done over time, what you see now is impressive. The northern wall is about 3m thick and 5m high. The southern wall around the town no longer exists, now replaced by a green belt visible on local maps. It completed the encircling of the town, passing from the castle down along the waterfront.
This castle was fired on. A few stone cannon balls are on show up top. Well, I assume they were ‘received’ and not just leftover stock. Hmmm, maybe not. Maybe they are ready to go.
The statue of Jesus is no doubt more recent and from a distance looks better than the one in Cuzco, Peru. Didn’t need to go closer. Being blessed by one in a lifetime is enough 😏. Yes?
From above in the Alcazar you can see another castle on a high rock down the coast to the west of here. Saw a few perched on hills between Córdoba and here. Andalucía has a fascinating history. Not necessarily a place you’d have chosen to be born in earlier times as the prevalence of castles suggest contested land and many tumultuous centuries to me.
Nearby, subterranean dwellings are just visible in the hills surrounding the basin in which Almería sits.
I’ve read mentions of trogdylites on the camino and from the bus yesterday saw quite a few houses built into the compressed dirt and shale hillsides. Now I understand!
Remember my photos from the Via de la Plata when I first saw this type of storage and later housing in Granada (and prior to that in Coober Pedy, Australia).
Interesting. Apparently used as a fortress at times in the past, offensively, interestingly, as well as defensively. Pirates from the Barbary Coast were real and needed slaves. I’d have joined the church too if it guaranteed me access to its inner sanctum and safety rather than a life as a slave in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Libya. Not much evidence of this from the tourist level: some blocked arrow slots and small turrets up top.
I was going to describe the cathedral as impressive but I got so sick of listening to the handheld english-language device that describes everything in excruciating detail. Frankly I don’t care about the detail in the virgen Mary’s robes or who gave the pesos a hundred and three years ago to build what etc. So, no photos of the inner bits. And I turned the device off quickly.
And after a while I passed into a semi-fugue state wondering which Spanish cathedral I was in. The speaker seemed to be saying what I’d heard in 20 other cathedrals and I remembered I’d vowed never to visit any ever again. Worse, it cost me €4.50 to break my vow. Last time…. I promise. Well, except that a cathedral that defended itself is pretty unusual and worth checking out. Briefly. But all I could see was evident outside for free. Oh well.
Another day, another mixed salad just like mum used to make (ugh) except she missed the tuna, added egg and her tomatoes were usually nicer. I only order them to get some vegetable intake that’s relatively salt free, not as you may think, so I can complain to you again!
The calamari had long departed the sea and the amount of grease on the chips was an achievement of note. I suspected yesterday there might be reason why the cafe wasn’t busy but its menu offered what I wanted. Quality? Discover once you’ve committed. Remember that one near the castle in Almodovar Del Río – exceptionally nice and unexpected. So, appearances and the lack of crowds can be unreliable.
I started coughing again this morning. If it’s not bronchiolitis (5 decades too old), lung cancer (I shouldn’t watch Breaking Bad again) then maybe it’s excitement or nervousness again??
Tomorrow I’m restarting walking. I’m planning on a taxi for the first 5km to get past the nearby industrial area. They are soul destroying and the thought of walking through another in the not-quite-dawn light does not warm the cockles of my ❤️ .
Industrial areas exaggerate their own isolation. Large buildings, deserted or unused, few parked cars and very few or no people. Often the buildings are interspaced with empty blocks needing maintenance. Doing this will help me avoid the worst of the day’s heat too. Won’t be possible for future longer stages, starting with stage 3. But I’ll be higher up then and it may not be so hot in the early afternoon.
Fascinating the variability in camino information. I have estimates of tomorrow’s distance ranging from 23km to 27km. For exactly the same route.
Male haircuts in Spain again….
Very different topic I just remembered. Back in the Córdoba bus station this nice young guy allowed me to photograph his very impressive haircut. I think he acquiesced as he was so shocked to be asked.