A newcomer's peek around beautiful Murcia
Alexandra Charles is back in Spain for her third time teaching English, her recent post being the area of Murcia, and shares her latest discoveries around the region.
It’s February and I might usually be drinking hot chocolate in my well-heated, Canadian house, wrapped up in a warm fleece blanket as the thermometer outside reads -20 degrees Celsius. Instead, I am sitting comfortably on a terrace, soaking up sunrays in southern Spain.
I can’t really complain about the heat. It’s not that I don’t like snow. In fact I think it’s beautiful how it coats buildings and streets with a shimmering glitter during the Canadian winters. But my ‘winter’ is different this time.
I’m back in Spain for a third year. I’ve come to teach English in a high school, and I find the work to be extremely fulfilling and enriching. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the Spanish culture and learning about how things are done in another part of the world.
The city has a river running through it with several nice bridges, and even a large sardine-sculpture fountain at one spot that occasionally spurts out water.
Something that surprised me when I first arrived in Murcia was seeing oranges growing on trees along the sidewalks. Oranges in January? Locals say the oranges in these city trees are not good for eating; it’s a shame because they look so fresh and juicy.
There are plenty of orchards around Murcia though, stocked full of trees with edible oranges and lemons. Many local growers will give full bags of oranges and lemons to friends and neighbours to save their produce from going to waste.
I am living and working in a small town called El Palmar, which is a 20-minute bus ride away from Murcia (the capital of the region of Murcia). Being a city girl I find this town lacks facilities and busy social activities found in a city like Murcia. The main sights in El Palmar are the hospital buildings, called la Arrixaca.
Besides that, there are a few banks, a clothing shop or two, some tobacco stores, and about two small bakeries on Calle Mayor, the main street. There’s one church at the end and that marks the town limits.
One thing I’ve been having to get used to is walking to the other end of town to get to the supermarket, and then having to drag my purchases all the way back to the flat. Having access to a car would be handy, but I’m not confident I’d be able to maneuver around these extremely narrow, Spanish streets.
When living in and around El Palmar and Murcia capital, it is possible to get to the coast and Mediterranean Sea in about 30 minutes by car. I’ve been to the small beach town called Los Norejos, and it seemed like a ghost town since winter does not bring many people around. Similarly, Dehesa de Campoamor (which is in Alicante, just outside of Murcia) is a nice residential beach town but it also is deserted in the wintertime.
A lovely harbour town to spend the day is called Cartagena; it’s a navy station and there is a roman theatre one can tour as well.
La Manga del Mar Menor is the main sight to see when you visit Murcia. Everyone tells me how crowded this resort town gets with tourists during summer -- there’s no chance of finding parking spaces for cars yet alone for towels on the beach.
Still, the Manga is an intriguing place. On one side is the calm Mar Menor with barely a ripple there. And on the other side, a mere 30 steps or so, is the immense and seemingly infinite Mediterranean Sea.
The many regions of Spain are dramatically different than their neighbours. Each has its own virtues, and Murcia is unlike any other region I’ve been to. If you like the sun, you must come to southern Spain.
Alexandra Charles / Expatica
Photos by Alexandra Charles. Feel free to contact Charles with any comments or questions at email@example.com.
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