Liz of Young Adventuress recently tweeted, Am I the only one who doesn’t used what’s app or instagram? In short, yes. Social media has been taking its toll on my love life recently, as my boyfriend walks away from me any time I whip out my little htc hot mess of a phone (since my nice one was stolen in January). I squealed with delight when instagram became available for Androids just before Feria last month, and used the looooooong car ride from Sevilla to Murcia – last weekend’s destination – as a way to test it out. In short – I’m in love. While I preferred Pudding Camera for its crazy settings, Instagram’s ease with social media make it a bit more of a winner in my humble, html-challenged mind.
Kike’s job takes him this week to Murcia, a strange, moon-like crater that anchors down the southeast corner of the peninsula. While I’d had little desire to ever travel there, I had a (nearly) free ride and a place to stay, so I jumped at the chance. We pulled up to Cartagena, a town rich in military history (and home to the first self-propelled submarine, who knew!) shortly after 9pm. The journey had been long, with bouts of natural beauty through the Sierra de Huétor and the green, green plains that run along its backside towards the coast.
Cartagena’s port stood quiet and still on a Friday evening, and even the Calle Mayor was lifeless. Our quick dinner of beer and ensaladilla was met with a good night’s sleep before we headed out the following day for Jumilla.
Murcia has few claims to Spain, apart from a few big cities, a bunch of expat enclaves and wine. Jumilla, a sleepy town that nearly reaches the border of Valencia, is home to several wineries, and I was dying to tour one. I had gotten in contact with Bodegas Silvano García, who graciously offered us a tour of their small, family-run bodega and a full cata de vino for only 5€. Even Mr. Grumpy, who wasn’t keen on making the drive, enjoyed himself and pumped some (grape-flavored) fuel back into the economy.
Later that day, we headed down the coast to Águilas, where his Aunt Laura and her family live. The day was cool and drizzly, but the sound of the waves and the smell of salt somehow always makes me feel like Spain was a good, good choice. The day was far less than perfect, which made me eager to get on to Murcia.
Finally, a sunny day. After a quick trip to the ER and our Sunday churros routine, Kike and I wandered the central heart of Murcia. It was Mother’s Day, so people were overflowing the terraces in the square at the foot of the cathedral.
“Let’s go in,” I told Kike, Camarón finally unglued from my face. The salmon and cobalt hues of the building were inviting, and I had a feeling of who I might find in the cathedral: St. Lucy, the eyeless one I chose for my confirmation name. Little known fact about me: I always add to the donation box when I find her in churches by surprise.
We met Paco and Inma, two of Kike’s coworkers, in Plaza de Santa Catalina. Paco is from Murcia and invited us to have lunch with him and his brother, so we squeezed into the corner of El Pulpito, awash with cool grey tones and smelling of seafood. Carmen’s mother had told me to try pulpo al horno, an octopus that’s been baked, and I was not disappointed. The caldera de arroz, stuffed clams, ensaladilla and cold beer did not disappoint, either.
I was the bus a few hours later, crammed into a window seat. I watched the craters of Murcia eventually return to the flatness of the plain where Seville sits. I can’t say Murcia is my favorite part of Spain, or that I’d ever be willing to make the seven-hour bus ride happen again. Yet, somehow, I don’t feel like I got to see all it really has to offer. My Instagram photos reveal little more than the day’s main events (I let Camarón have all of the glory, afterall), but I’m anxious to see more – and, let’s face it – eat more octopus.
Have you ever been to Murcia? What were your impressions of it? Any place in Spain you’ve never been that you’d be willing to go if you had a free ride out there? And if you’re on instagram, let’s follow! I’m found at sunshinesiestas.