What did I do when I arrived in Zaragoza? I was welcomed by my host Yvonne and we went for a drink and something to eat! Whoever said that you cannot be a vegetarian in Spain?
When I announced I was visiting this city, I was often asked why, even by people who live there! I think there is a popular idea that it is a predominantly industrial place and an army base. But, I can tell you that it is well worth seeing.
The main square, Plaza del Pilar, is enormous, with not one but two cathedrals: the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a very old church inside a less old, bigger one; and the Seo, Cathedral of the Saviour (Catedral del Salvador) with its spectacular tapestries.
In the past, the two cathedrals vied with each other to display the most impressive riches, but the Basilica is the only one with a canon ball hole in its front wall. As far as the parishioners are concerned it was an act of God that it did not explode when it came through during the civil war.
When I was in Normandy I met a paper sculptor and he told me I must go and see the Origami Museum in Zaragotha. But where was it? My hosts who had lived there for years did not know.
There are fountains, sculptures, the tourist information, exhibitions, and plenty of space to sit or run around.
That place alone takes a day or more to view properly.
Within 5 minutes walk from there are ancient remains to be seen – an amphitheatre and clearly excavated dwellings.
There are beautiful lanes, squares and courtyards with cafes in. We had paella sitting outside in the warm shade for lunch.
Anywhere where music is played in the multi-storey car park as well as the cathedral is OK with me.
Here are some more of the origami and paper exhibits.
Thanks to obliging Yvonne, who drove at top speed to catch the security guard before he closed the museum, I reclaimed my mobile phone with its 1000s of photos!
Other highlights included an evening walk along the Ebro, being shown the contemporary architecture of the 2008 Expo with the Pabellón Puente bridge designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Aragon Pavillion with its effect of woven glass panels. (No photos because I had not got my phone back at this time).
I extend my thanks for the hospitality, keen conversation, and sightseeing I received in this impressive city.
The next day I took a Bla Bla Car along the autovia del Nordeste (A2) between Zaragoza and Madrid, passing by Guadalajara and the Panteón de la Duquesa de Sevillano. Knowing it was the Fiesta San Isidro that day, the biggest and best of the year, and with extra unexpected time in Madrid, I made the mistake of attempting to walk from Chamartín to Atocha stations to try and see the street celebrations. Well, I had been in the car for a long time already, and was going to be journeying a further 5 hours to Seville later the same day so I figured I could stretch my legs! Readers, do not try it – it is mostly motorway and you cannot walk on the motorway, so I took a detour and somehow managed to get lost (in immense heat, on a Sunday afternoon) in an industrial estate. Oh dear, I had to retrace my steps and take the metro. It was a disaster and I did not get to see any of the carnival.
After the most troublesome pick-up I have had with Bla Bla Car, I eventually managed to get my lift. The driver was a wheelchair using, cannabis-smoking athlete with a wicked sense of humour. He played me Luis Fonsi’s raunchy Latino ‘Despacito ft.’ and we translated from the Spanish to English, line by line, all the way to Seville, arriving much later than planned, and being met by the patient Pedro. See next blog – Seville.
Origami Museum website http://www.emoz.es/language/en/