Man… I have got the whole ordering breakfast in Spanish thing locked down to an art form 🙂
The secret: (apart, obviously from mastering the local lingo) – never show fear.
Showing anxiety to café owners in non-touristy areas of the country, engenders a reciprocal level of fear. If you can’t speak to them then they can’t speak to you either. So, even if you stumble and mispronounce – don’t pause and always, always, smile.
For instance, on Sunday morning we got a coffee, a tea and a ‘pincho de tortilla patata’ for €4.30 all on the basis of my rough command of the language and a cheery smile. The fact that this purchased a visit to a ceramic loo was just a welcome bonus.
The rest of the morning was kind of lazy, little happened. We had slow wanderings around the lovely fortified town on the hill, which is very pretty: ancient gardens, cobbled streets, higgledy houses.
In this sleepy January week the town was quiet, plenty of space per person. There are HUNDREDS of hotels, each with hundreds of rooms, towers of them stretching back from the sea front as far as the eye can see and all the way along to the next resort. I couldn’t help but imagine what this place must be like in the summer months. Poor locals.
But, out of season the town of Peniscola is charming; warm in its welcome and climate. However, despite the distinct lack of ice and sub-zero temperatures, we don’t really settle well in areas with manicured lawns and seafront paddling pools. The mountains are more our thing. So, we packed up our bits and pieces.
Then we drove two hours inland to Morella and… golly.
We’d been recommended to visit the city, a visitor at home had circled it emphatically on our map book. Neither of us could remember why they were so enthusiastic.
As we approached, I wondered if I was looking at some kind of sci-fi film set. The city loomed like the mountain top from Close Encounters of a Third Kind.
Added to its cultural charms are the two parking areas for visiting campers. The first, a mile outside the city walls sits on the opposite side of the narrow valley and offers (very clean) grey/black and drinking water stations, olive trees and wild rosemary bushes in bloom with their tiny lavender coloured flowers sprinkled up their stems.
Set away from the road, we and six other vans rested in little nooks around the site, watching the night-lights come on in the mystery that was Morella. We had lunch/supper, drank warm Spanish red wine and walking the dog last thing, saw an entire galaxy of stars unfold for us in the blackest heavens up above.
Monday, the plan had been to potter round the town, spend another night and then tomorrow move on. Which just goes to show why clear communication is essential and that, even after 24 years together, you should always clarify…
The fort and castle at Morella are stunning and for €3.50 per person, without doubt the best value tourist attraction we’ve ever visited. For this paltry sum you get two churches and six storeys of castle ranging from Roman times, to 12th, 13thand 14thcenturies, plus new bits being renovated with EU funding. The town doesn’t have a supermarket as such. We needed to fine the Paneceria to get bread, the Carneteria for eggs and ham and a small grocery store for apples. All gorgeous.
So, after lunch back at the van, I interpreted M’s looking around as him being restless as asked:
“Do you want to move on then?”
M responded by assuming that I was restless and said:
“Yes, let’s do that”
Which is such a pity, because we had both been looking forward to another night in the olive grove. And now, after a gruelling 3-hour drive, albeit through some spectacular scenery we’re sitting in Teruel, which must have lovely bits, but we haven’t found them yet.
Oh well, Lovely Morella – maybe another time?!