Monday, April 22, 2013

Almería Rediscovered!

I have lived in Almería for nearly 8 months now and loved every minute, but for the past two weeks I have really been trying to get to know my city even better, and rediscover why I love it so much.

View of Almeria from the Alcazaba
Last weekend, I FINALLY went to the Alcazaba, the old Moorish castle/fortress in Almería.  Basically, it's our lesser version of the Alhambra (see previous entry).  I can't believe it took me so long to finally visit!  It is literally the main tourist attraction in Almería (and there aren't many).  It was worth the wait though. I think I couldn't have picked a better day to visit.  It was a cloudless day, about 75 degrees, and since it's spring, the castle gardens were in full bloom. Part of the castle is old ruins while other parts have been maintained to show it's original character.  Throughout the entire castle are informational signs explaining what everything is or was.  Above all, the best part of the castle is the amazing view of Almería that can be seen from every wall.  We spent about an hour there, and then went down to spend the rest of the day on the beach (yes it is beach season in April!).

Also, the Sunday of the same weekend that we visited the Alcazaba, a bunch of us also toured the "refugios", another historical sight in Almería.  The refugios is a system of tunnels about 4 kilometers long that served as a bomb shelter during Spain's civil war in the later 1930's.  The tour was really interesting and naturally eerie.  We learned that Almería had been a target during the Spanish civil war, and was frequently bombed.  So, the government decided to make a series of bomb shelters including the "refugios" in order to keep it's citizens safe. The watch tower would signal to set of the sirens when they saw enemy planes approaching.  The people had less than ten minutes to get to the nearest bomb shelter and take cover.  For some people that meant going into basements beneath government buildings, churches, etc, but for many people that meant taking one of the many entrances to get in the refugios.  The entrances included street access (the little metal doors can still be seen today), entering through a news kiosk (that had hidden passages underneath), or entering through an apartment building. We learned a lot about the war, but mostly that the refugios served as a safe haven for Almerians for nearly two years.  We walked through 1 kilometer of the cement tunnels during our hour-long tour, and the image of thousands of people filling the tunnels filled my mind.  It was extremely interesting but like I said, eerie.

View of Cabo de Gata
Lunch for only 10 people!
This past weekend I was invited once again by Maribel to go to her family's country house, but this time it was a beach house instead of a mountain village house.  The family took me first to a lookout of the natural park "Cabo de Gata".  The cabo de gata is the cape that makes up the bottom right corner of Spain.  The cape and miles around it are completely reserved, creating a sort of desert/tropical beauty.  Afterwards, we went to a remote beach in the village of the beach house.  The beach was gorgeous and only had a few families and surfers present.  It was a perfect sunny day, and not too hot, so we spent an hour or so there and let Daniel (4 years old) and Carli (nearly 2) play in the sand.  Around 2 we went to the house for lunch and I was reintroduced to the familiar faces of their relatives.  The lunch was just as big as the last one.  This meal included: bread, manchego cheese, Iberian chorizo, cured ham, salad, sausage, bacon, chicken fillets, pork fillets, rabbit, spicy blood sausage, Spanish tortilla, prawns and lots of french fries.  After lunch, we went for a walk through the small village of Rodalquilar, a once thriving village due to it's gold mine.  Unfortunately, I learned that more people working in the gold mine were stealing than working honestly, so it had to be shut down so now it is a small ghostly village just a stone's throw away from the beach.  After our afternoon walk, we came back for coffee and dessert: orange sponge cake, chocolate, and rum/sugar crepes.  All delicious.  About 7:30 the kids were getting tired so we drove the 40 minute trek back to Almería.  All-around great day.  Great views, great weather, great food and great company :)

It's experiences like these that remind me exactly why I am so happy here in Almería.

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