Most of us have been through airport security at least once since 9/11, and if you haven’t you’ve probably heard tales of tight restrictions and attention to detail. When it’s me in line, jacket is off, pockets emptied, belt and shoes in tray, ready to roll – no problem. So I do get a bit tetchy when, despite all the posters, all the previous experiences, all the warnings, some drip in front has heeded none of the advice and thereby causes a senseless jam. Imagine then my horror to discover that on the way out to Spain I am in the queue behind “Studman”.
Every bell, whistle and flashing light went off as Studman went through the scanner. You would have expected a shutdown. Groped and prodded within an inch of his metal, and sometimes closer, the man seemed to have metallic testacles. At least that seemed to be the final area of concern. Fi had gone through a different line and after a while signalled to me that I would find her in Duty Free. I sighed and counted my blessings….when I could
think of any.
This was to be an omen. We checked into our hotel to espy a beautiful shiny Harley Davidson plinthed and proud beneath the orange flag and famous logo.
The following morning….. “Hotel ? Welcomes the Harley Davidson Convention”.
The lobby was athrob with bikers. The doorway crammed with shining Harleys. “Colours” were everywhere. The Almeria Chapter were hosting the annual gathering. Funny how times change, though. These HOGs (Harley Owners Group – their label, not mine) were generally all in their 50’s. Clean t-shirts, leather shone and squeaky, chrome gleemed. Wives wearing make-up. Born to be Wild maybe, but more inclined to be Born to be Mellow, older and wiser, now. It was all “Por Favor, Señor,y grazias”. (Watching the start of Easy Rider again I’m left wondering how long could Peter Fonda keep his arms so high. Anyway, I digress.)
Fi and I made our way to explore old Almeria town as our fellow guests cruised into the distance with their trade mark grumbleroar echoing in our ears. The plan was to
head for the Alcazaba and so we wandered through the old narrow streets, ensuring that we kept going up hill since we couldn’t actually see the Alcazaba. Forts are on top of hills, right?
It was worth the trip. Perched high overlooking the town and the bay, now benefitting from years of restoration, the Alcazaba is an ancient happy marriage of Christian and Islamic influences that once defended the town. It has been much altered over the centuries and was indeed in military use up until the 20th century. Now it is an extensive
restored monument to a richly mixed history.
Having gone through the first gate a winding patch takes you up to another gate,Puerto de la Justicia(Justice Gate) to enter the fort for real.
As with many Islamic influenced monuments to history, water and it’s provision plays a big part. This area has been restored to a lovely garden of pomegranate trees but was once a bustling part of the old fort itself where streets ran with shops and houses for those who lived here.
The area where the the reservoir and the Casa del Alacaide, the Governor’s House, were built is a serene area of contemplation. Designed by Pietro Moreno at the beginning of the 20th century, it nods to the classic beauty of the Alhambra in Granada.
The site is extensive and a short walk from the Water Garden takes you to an area of restored Islamic housing and fortification where you can appreciate the defensive panoramas that the fort holds.
Whilst restoration started in the 1930’s, some of it is still being excovated to reveal buildings and streets that have defended Almeria for centuries.
Almeria is a lovely city, I would suggest, split into two, almost, by The Ramblas – the main shopping thoroughfare. Old town sits beneath the Alcazaba and is teeming with narrow streets, tapas bars and restaurants, often with a distinct Moorish flavour.
If your ship lands here – check out the Alcazaba. It was free to get in and we spent hours here, unhurried and peaceful. A credit to the area.