By friday night I was pretty bummed about not getting to go on away on an adventure somewhere other than within Pamplona. So at around 10:30pm I decided to sporadically book a train ticket and a room in Zaragoza.
I boarded my train at 8:00 am on Saturday and arrived by 10:00 am. Planning on eating too much, I chose to walk to and from the station (and plus with the money I saved I technically paid for my lunch!). I always stay at hostels but since I was by myself this time, I didn’t feel I could justify paying the price for a private room. So… don don don… I stayed for the first time in a dorm! It was actually better than I had expected, rooms and bathrooms were clean (although I had showered the night before so I wouldn’t have to use their showers). The bed, however, had no sheets. A comforter yes, sheets no… but being me I had brought my silk liner so this didn’t really effect me. I just slept with my liner on top of the comforter. My poor doormate wasn’t quite so prepared and it was a much more nasty shock for herself. Anyways the room was only €16 including breakfast (thats roughty $24 CDN) so no complaints on my part!
To be honest, the main reason I chose Zaragoza to visit is from a picture I saw on pinterest. It was of the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pillar (Basilica of our Lady the Pillar) and the Old Bridge in town. I actually went searching to find the spot where the photo was taken so I could recreate my own! And yes, this is what happens when you travel by yourself. You have enough time to do whatever whim catches your fancy! Okay I’m off track. I started the day visiting the Basilica. Since there were no signs and I clearly can’t speak Spanish, I ended up first going up the elevator in one of the pillars (€3). As you all probably know, I’m petrified of heights, plus it was super windy so I almost just took the elevator back down but I powered through. I’m glad I did because I saw amazing views of the city and the Basilica and then climbed up to the peak (on stairs with no backings… also one of my fears – it’s like they were trying to cause me to have a panic attack!). It was such a different way to view the city and overall it was worth the year or two that was taken off my life from stress.
On a funny note, the man who took my photo kept trying to talk to me although I clearly I didn’t understand and I’m like 99.9% sure that’s what his wife kept trying to tell him!
After I went to the church part (which was free, bonus!) and it has to be one of the most amazing churches I have ever laid eyes on. Pictures weren’t allowed so unfortunately there’s nothing to show you of it but yeah, it was so amazing I actually went again the next day. Inside the Basilica was so grandoise and incredible that it honestly felt wrong to talk when you were inside. I mean there were signs telling you to be silent but I felt like they weren’t even necessary. The church left you feeling insignificant in the scheme of things and you couldn’t help but feel humbled by it’s beauty.
Afterwards I stopped in at a place my book had recommended called Churreria la Fama for some chocolate churros and a cafe con leche. ‘Twas delicious. Spain is going to make me obese. Then I wandered around, square to square, going through small side streets. The building weren’t as old as the ones in Barcelona or Madrid but I love how they were so colorful here and just how narrow the streets are. Bright colored buildings amongst brick ones lined the streets and graffiti (but its more like art) and actual paintings lined the walls of streets.
It all had so much character and life. Personally, I enjoyed it better than Madrid. I ended up finding a place to read my book and have a beer in Plaza de San Felipe overlooking the Museo de Pablo Gargolla. As I was reading a wedding had just finished and the groom and bride were exiting the church. I got to hear the whistles and cheers and see the rice being thrown and confetti guns shot. They really know how to celebrate here! As it was Saturday, I saw many other weddings underway. I noticed that the wedding couple always seem to drive away in an older car (like 60’s style) which I think is absolutely precious! I headed back to a garden patio hidden within the side streets for a lunch of tapas and wine where I read some more. From there I headed back to Plaza de Pillars and sat by the fountains and, you guessed it, read some more.
I went to a place in the square for a delicious gelato (caramel and pistachio). Granted I was harassed by a begger who literally followed me for a bit, whining and fake crying like a 2 year old… I was very close to beating him. I decided as soon as I finished my gelato to leave the square and set to find the spot where my photo was taken that I had saw and did a tad more reading with the Basilica in the background once I found the spot. The peace and quiet was much appreciated change from the whiny beggar! Yes I know, my day was extremely hard and stressful with all the reading, eating, and being awed by the city!
I headed back to my place to get a scarf as the weather was super confusing here. I felt like I was living out a Katy Perry song – ” You’re hot and you’re cold” – as it was sunny and 26 degrees out. So at times you were dying and at other times a cold wind made me freezing. Apparently it must be a normal occurance as it was the same on Sunday. I went back to my reading spot to see the Basilica at sunset and at night. It was absolutely gorgeous! Ooo and for dinner I had the most amazing scallops and shrimp ever. It was DIVINE!
On Sunday I went to Aljaferia (it’s free on Sundays!) which was originally built as a palace for Islamic rulers. When the city rulers became the Catholics they added on to the palace for their own use. To me this was a super unique site to see as I’ve seen tons of European castles but the architecture was so different in an Islamic one. The designs all formed these geometric patterns that appear to continue on forever which as I read was the purpose as they are supposed to represent the infinite. I loved the color schemes of gold and green and all the curves in the doorways and windows.
As I’m writing this, (on pen and paper I may add!) I’m just sitting in the square and having a drink, pondering what to do with my day. I could go see other churches but I just don’t feel like paying nor do I feel like they will live up to the Basilica. My train leaves at 7:30 this evening and will unfortunately bring me back home to reality of school tomorrow… ick. At least I had a quick escape and I would definitely recommend coming to Zaragoza if you are ever in Spain!
Oh and another addition. I had the most amazing lunch at La Pilara and Copa. It was to die for! It was the best tapas, no anything, that I’ve ever had here. Maybe just ever had in general! I wasn’t completely sure what I was ordering as my espanol is pathetic but I had bacon wrapped shrimp with artichoke and some sort of delectable sauce and a moorish chicken with cabbage (?). It was HEAVEN! Next trip to Spain you have to eat here!!