3 Jun 2017
|Day 16 - Sat 3 June 17
A quick snack of 2* Tapas buns and coffee started the day in the Plaza de Espana as we awaited the 1030 hrs Hop on Hop off tour of the city.
Presenting a 50€ bill to the bus driver was not well received and we had to make a special stop to change the money. The tour was expected to last an hour and a half and we continued the trip until we reached stop 16 of 19, the Aljaferia Palace. We had previously viewed from the bus the bullfighting arena, the new ultra modern inter modal transport centre and the impressive area established for the 2008 World Expo.
With audio guide in hand we started a tour of the Aljaferia Palace at 1150 hrs.
It was explained from archeological studies that it's origins were traced to the 9th century when it began as an Islamic Palace and was further developed in the moorish style until Zaragoza was reconquered in 1118. At this time, it took on the Christian style of the Aragonese monarchy who occupied and developed it as their principal palace. The Palace deteriorated badly over the intervening years and it was not until 1947 that extensive archeological and restoration work began and 2001 before it was recognised on the world heritage list.
It rates as Aragon's principal heritage site and considerable resources have been put into the Palace and the presentation of this unique structure of two combined architectural styles.
We wandered the palace with our audio guide until 1315hrs very impressed with everything we saw; another worthwhile activity.
We decided to walk the 1.2 km back to the Plaza del Pilar despite the possibility of further showers and with only one of our umbrellas. On the way we came across a Tapas bar with several home prepared Tapas which we elected would constitute lunch. They were very good and a seafood Tapas in filo pastry was considered one of our nicest; at this time.
Before we reached the Plaza, we came across the city market that was large and appeared interesting, however, most stalls had closed for the siesta or in the final stages of closing. Alongside the market is a large section of the city walls dating back to the Romans; a statue of Augustus Caesar watching over its changes and there appeared to be many periods represented.
We stopped briefly for a rest in the Plaza del Pilar; I had an ice cream while Kaye , armed with the camera, tracked down a wedding party emerging from the Basilica. We now have a photo of a very tall bride and a very short groom to add to our memories of Spain. We have elected to keep our tour of the imposing Basilica until tomorrow.
We returned via the Calle Alfonso 1 ( the main shopping street) direct to the hotel for our now regular siesta exhausted but happy. In hindsight, the Hop on Tour was probably not the most informative we have undertaken and I feel we could have established our visit plan from other means.
At 1930hrs, adjusting to the Spanish dinner scene, we set off on foot, for " the best Tapas " in Zaragoza which was 800 m away. With our trusty maps.me we arrived just before 8pm to be told they weren't open. The bar was filled with a very friendly group of young people who attempted to speak to us in their best English. They were celebrating the graduation of five of their members from medical school that morning- all were women and all quite attractive ( one had a young child which would have made study that much harder). The waitress then explained that they weren't serving until 2030hrs which was a different position and wasn't a problem to us.
We ordered from the menu using google translator to assist, pictures and our helpful waitress. The food was delicious and the wine good. Kaye was on top note and very taken by her choice of restaurant. The meal now has the " best ever Tapas" tag.
Our route back to the hotel was indirect until I started using maps.me, however, it showed us something of the night life of the city and how people enjoyed each other and their dining experience; quite different to our own. We were back to our hotel by 2330hrs and straight to bed after another enjoyable day.