Tim likes to travel. Follow his adventures as he explores the world.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Zaragoza, Spain: Who knew that Zaragoza = Caesaragusta???

Synopsis:
ZaragozaI've had quite some success with people visiting me in Spain, so far: Guillermo, my parents, and now Staša. We decide to go visit a city that I haven't been to, that is also convenient for her to fly to, so we pick Zaragoza. The Linzoain's will go with us the first day, and then Staša and I will explore the city for a few more days.


Trip Overview:
Day 1:Wake up, eat a deliciously prepared breakfast made by yours truly, and head out with the Linzoain's, 90 minutes by car, to Zaragoza. As we are driving we notice the shift in weather from rainy Navarra to sunny Aragón. Staša is already in the city center of Zaragoza, so we meet her at Plaza del Pilar. We have a coffee and chat before taking photos outside and then entering the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Inside is quite large and we arrive just as mass is beginning. After leaving there we go to La Seo del Salvador but it is closed. We walk over to the Roman stone bridge, over El Ebro river, which is very windy.

We can't go to Palacio de la Aljaferia because it's closed, so the Linzoain's decide to head back to Pamplona and Staša and I go off into the city. We end up at a tapas restaurant, La Pilara, which happens to be in the renown "El Tubo" district. Head to the hotel, Hotel Avenida, to drop off our stuff and head back out to the city. We snap photos and walk along a new route. We stop at a quaint cafe, La Bendita, that is actually pretty crowded, despite it being siesta time. 


We walk around some more and find ourselves back at Plaza del Pilar with an amazingly lit up Basilica. Stop at a tapas restaurant on the plaza, Piazza, with pretty good tapas, and quite cheap.


The hotel has some awesomely thin walls, so the people in the hall and other rooms who come in late and make various disturbing noises, are very clearly heard.

Thoughts:Quite a lot of people out and about for a Sunday, especially since all the stores are closed. Barbershop and salons around the city are open and crowded. Murals and graffiti (street art) are everywhere and really good. Africans selling stuff. Ridiculously windy all day.





The whole group ready to explore the city
The whole group ready to explore the city


I find it best to look up when inside
I find it best to look up when inside


With the man, the one the city is named after, and Julius Cesar next to him
With the man, the one the city is named after, and Julius Cesar next to him



#selfiemaster
#selfiemaster


Some of the amazing street art in the city
Some of the amazing street art in the city


It's safe to say they based this statue off of me
It's safe to say they based this statue off of me


They had Lucky Charms, so they're pretty legit
They had Lucky Charms, so they're pretty legit

At the plaza by night
At the plaza by night



Day 2: Head down to breakfast and it's all carbs. Coffee with coconut oil, and meat are my only options. After breakfast, walk to the Palacio de la Aljaferia, right in the middle of the city. Apparently, it is a museum and the site of the regional assembly. Not sure if my broken Spanish garners us sympathy, or if everyone gets in free with a tour, but we don't have to pay. We have about 30 minutes on our own before the tour, which is plenty of time to see all the patios and take photos. Then our tour with Rebecca, in Spanish, was quite interesting. We get to see the history of Aljaferia plus how the regional assembly works. I understand more than I thought I would.

From there we head to the Pablo Gargallo Museum, which is closed on Mondays. So we hang out in the plaza in front and have a drink. From there we walk over to 
La Seo del Salvador but it costs 4€ and I've seen way too many churches to pay to see one more. We decide to cross the stone bridge to sit in the sun and admire the basilica from across the river. Once we get hungry, we head over to Las Palomas for a buffet.


After eating, we walk to Bruil Park and enjoy more of the sun. Just like yesterday, we see lots of people walking their dogs. Waking back to the hotel we stop at Plaza Los Sitios and hang out for a bit. Then we head back to the hotel.


When we leave the hotel to go out for dinner, it's raining. Walk around
El Tubo and Calle Mercado San Miguel, pass by the Caesar Augustus Theater Museum, and then back to El Tubo and through the center, only to decide to eat right next to the hotel, at a friendly kebab shop, after two hours of walking around in the rain. 

Thoughts: Today we had some amazing weather in the day, and then rain at night. Now after two full days here in Zaragoza, we've pretty much seen all the biggest attractions, walked around the center a few times, and even lazed around in a few parks. We are actively searching for things to do tomorrow, so as not to spoil the time we have, but honestly, you could do two days here and be content. My iPhone has a pedometer and it says we walked 20,000 steps today, a bit more than my usual 4,000 or so. 


A palace with apartment buildings next to it
A palace with apartment buildings next to it

Free tour!
Free tour!

Having no idea what she is saying


Puttin' coconut oil in my coffee
Puttin' coconut oil in my coffee


Zaragoza's newest bullfighter
Zaragoza's newest bullfighter


Couldn't not do something inverted here
Couldn't not do something inverted here


More amazing street art
More amazing street art

The basilica and I, overlooking a flooded El Ebro
The basilica and I, overlooking a flooded El Ebro


El Tubo
El Tubo




Day 3: Another unexciting continental breakfast, and then head out to the tram right in front of the hotel, going to Parque Grande Josè Antonio Labordeta. What an amazing park! Runners and walkers are everywhere. It's beautifully large and quiet. Monuments and fountains are in abundance. There are plenty of places to sit and for some reason the lights in the park are all on. 

From the park we head to Gran Cafe Zaragoza and then to the Pablo Gargallo Museum. Quite interesting modern art, drawings, paintings, sculptures, cardboard cutouts and iron sculptures.


After the museum we go to El Calamar Bravo where we try their famous calamar bravo, squid sandwich with special sauce. It's not bad. From there we go to Cesar Augusta Theater Museum that we stumbled upon last night. We literally have the whole thing to ourselves. Here we confirm the Caesar Augusta naming of the city.


They close at 14h, like everything else in Spain, so we go to Cafe Nolasco to relax for a bit. After relaxing, and since everything is closed until 17h, we head back to the hotel for a siesta.


Refreshed, we head over to the Museum of Zaragoza. Sculptures, relics, and prehistoric artifacts from the area. Paintings of artists from the region in each era. Of course Goya has his own section. And Cesar Augustus, for whom the city is named, has a sizeable section.


Afterward we go to Lizarran, my go-to tapas bar from previous travels, and hang out there for a bit before deciding to call it a night.

Thoughts:  Another windy day, and quite a bit colder. El Rincón candy/pastry shops are everywhere. My pedometer says we walked 15,000 steps today.



Now this is what I call I park
Now this is what I call I park


Taming the lion
Taming the lion


Party up in here, at the Gargallo Museum
Party up in here, at the Gargallo Museum


Taste calamar bravo: check
Taste calamar bravo: check


The ancient amphitheater, just recently discovered here
The ancient amphitheater, just recently discovered here


Ready for the masquerade ball with Caesar
Ready for the masquerade ball with Caesar


I like going to museums where the are few other people
I like having museums all to myself



Day 4: Because we get up so early, I don't get to enjoy my last awesomely diverse continental breakfast at the hotel, but rather jump on a bus to the train station, where I board a train to Pamplona.

Thoughts: As I crossed the line from Aragón back into Navarra, the rain started and the temperature dropped, just like when I was coming.


Final Thoughts: Just like last time I traveled while doing a low carb diet, it seems very inconvenient as stores and shops only sell carbs. Besides that, Zaragoza was a really nice city to visit, with it's little hidden treasures, and it's better-than-Navarra weather. I plan to do several more trips in and around Spain and I hope I have a great time on those as well.


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Location: Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

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