Thursday, 21 September 2017

Suddenly, it clicks

The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint
The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint.
We've been in Zaragoza a few days, but today we properly got that holiday feeling.

We knew this would be a very different break to many we've had; two seiges in the early 1800s wrecked the city, so it's architecturally very modern, with a smattering of older buildings. (I think of anything after 1800 as pretty recent!) It's not a massively touristy destination either.  
The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint, by night
The Basilica from across the river.
We love Spain, so thought that wouldn't be a problem - but we hadn't expected it to be so quiet earlier in the week. I mean, it was dead. And all the things we were going to see seemed to be surrounded by housing blocks, so walking between them didn't feel particularly relaxing. Normally the Spanish cities we visit have an old town area, but thanks to Zaragoza's turbulent history, it doesn't have an ancient district of mazy streets and tiny, captivating plazas. 
Part of the Aljaferia palace, Zaragoza
Part of the Aljaferia palace - once home of the Muslim rulers.
So, what clicked today? Not sure. We've been to see loads of sights - origami museum, Roman theatre, Rosario del Cristal (a collection of stained-glass parade floats that are lit up and carried through the streets in honour of the Virgen del Pilar, patron of Spain. We visited the Basilica, which houses said Virgin, and the Roman forum museum. Having lots to think about definitely helped, and the Rosario was something beautiful that we just stumbled across.
glass boat from the rosario del cristal.
Boat to the new world, because the Virgen del Pilar is also
patron of all Spanish-speaking countries.
We found a group of excellent tapas bars close together - no more 15-minute walks between one and finding another. Things just felt right. Effortless. Uncomplicated. Like holidays should be. We stopped looking for places to go and places to eat, and simply found ourselves in them.
More floats from the Rosario del Cristal.
More floats from the Rosario del Cristal.
Of course, the good feeling could be because I saw cats for the first time today...
Cat in the Roman Theatre, Zaragoza.
Cat in the Roman Theatre, Zaragoza.


17 comments :

  1. Losing yourself in a place sounds like a good approach. If the cat is a good omen, then an out-of-the way perfume shop should be just around the corner.

    I've seen my share of floats parading saints, but never in stained glass. It must be breathtaking to see.

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    1. The parade takes place in October, as part of the saint's celebrations. There were posters all over the town on restaurants, telling you what their menu would be for that day, so people could book in advance. It's amazing just seeing the floats in the church, but as part of a parade, with people also carrying illuminated lights, it must be magical.

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  2. No evidence of the protests, Mim? I was thinking about you both when I've watched the news this week.
    Stunning photos and cats always take a holiday to another level. xxx

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    1. There was a bullfighting protest at Sol when we arrived in Madrid, but we were pretty distant from protests about the Catalan independence vote - if we'd still been in Madrid I daresay we'd have seen it. But the demos I've encountered in Spain have always been serious but not chaotic.

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  3. It usually takes us a while to get into holiday mood, but I know the click will come eventually. Not planning too much and just go with the flow and stumble upon the unexpected is the best way to achieve this. Those stained glass floats are fantastic. xxx

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    1. By the end of the week I was right into it and didn't want to come back.

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  4. Oh wow I love that boat light so much. I always find it takes a few days to unwind and feel in a holiday mood but I'm so glad you are in the moment now, have a wonderful rest of trip. xx

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    1. It's an amazing piece of work, and absolutely enormous - you wouldn't want to lose your grip on your corner in the street...

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  5. Don't know about the rest of the place but you seem to have stumbled across some stunning locations. All that stained glass is absolutely gorgeous. Just wandering round is a great way to get the feel of somewhere. Nothing is anything without cats. Glad you are having a great time. Xx

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    1. I like wandering. You see more at street level, and stuff that might not look much from the window of a car could turn out to be really interesting.

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  6. Cats make everything better.
    Zaragoza looks amazing!

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    1. It's not my favourite city in Spain - dare I say it, it's not even in my top 5 - but then Spain is a fab place and I'd cheerfully go back to Zaragoza. Seville will always be my real love, though, followed perhaps by Segovia or Caceres.

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  7. Ha, must have been the lack of cats! Finding your feet in a new city sometimes takes a while. X

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    1. No cats, no fun!

      Though these were sulky blighters and didn't come near anyone. I think they were street cats; they were each missing an eartip, which animal charities sometimes do with street cats to show they've been neutered.

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  8. Zaragoza looks fabulous. I think I know what you mean by suddenly being there - it's like you've lost your tourist hat and you suddenly belong there.

    I absolutely love stained glass so that museum sounds wonderful!

    xxx

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    1. The displays were fab, especially as Spain's not a country I associate with stained glass. It was a real change from the elaborately-carved religious statues of the south.

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