Thursday, 30 August 2012

Normal service is resumed, its sight-seeing time!

Day 128 28.08.12 Murcia
Murcia casino, SpainWe got up early for a change and headed off to Murcia.  The drive was mostly painless until the mental approach to the city which was busy and difficult to navigate.  We made it safely though to our destination of another out of town shopping centre.  After lunch and a check out of the facilities in the centre we set off to explore the city.

Our parking spot is only a 15 minute walk out of the centre – or would have been if we’d gone the right way!  After some confused wandering we came across a hotel where I picked up a map at reception and we got back on the right track!

Our first find was a stunning brightly coloured university building.  Around the corner yet more uni faculty buildings of amazing architecture were to be found.  Uni students here in Spain are so lucky to have these beautiful buildings to study in! 

Murcia Cathedral, Spain
In the centre of the old town we came across the recently refurbished casino, the fa├žade of which is breath-taking.  The detail is incredible, particularly in the carved wood.  Sadly the street it’s on is too narrow to get far enough away to really appreciate the buildings frontage (or get a good photo for that matter!).  The inside looks to be wonderfully extravagantly decorated but at a fiver each we opted not to explore.

At the end of the street you find a spectacular cathedral with its huge clock tower.  Once again the entry fee was a fair bit too much so we didn’t bother as I’d read the outside is much more impressive anyway.  The different sides of the cathedral all have very different styles and unique attractions.  The front, overlooking the Plaza Apostoles is by far the most impressive.  Adorned with intricate statues, stunningly decorated studded doors and huge marble columns it really is a sight to behold.  We were a little undecided as to whether the drive to Murcia would be worthwhile but this building alone, justifies the trip.

Front of Murcia cathedral, Spain

Continuing around town we found lots of impressive churches, more lovely university buildings and an attractive town hall.  Many of the apartment buildings and houses have interesting features too.  We also had a nice walk alongside the river enjoying the views, including a strange partly-submerged fish sculpture which was pretty cool.

I have to say though, that Murcia is one of the first places we’ve visited where Spain’s ecomonic difficulties are apparent.  Many of the shops on the main street for example have gone into liquidation.  There is a ridiculous amount of graffiti, the parks have been neglected and there are a fair few homeless people.  Nonetheless there are also plenty of well off people here and lots of bustling cafes and restaurants that are far from cheap!

We’ve been really pleasantly surprised by Murcia.  The city has a lot more to offer than I’d expected and some spectacular architecture.  There’s obviously not a great deal of money being pumped into the city and I really hope this doesn’t lead to the neglect of some of its fine buildings as it would be a real shame. 

On our return to the van we find a note has been left on the windscreen from someone who (I think) is trying to buy Van Diesel from us.  No way Jose (Carlos)!  

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