At 7.05 in the morning our flight left Birmingham airport, and on board were fifteen intrepid SLU3A members determined to become Conquistadors and practice the Spanish they had been studying for little more than a year. On arrival, they were met by Joaquín Verdu who accompanied them to their hotel. After settling in, they were escorted to a restaurant where they enjoyed a typical ‘menu del dia’ which was very satisfying. It was then on foot to the Casino, a club for people who like to chat, and a fantastic afternoon was spent admiring the fabulous architecture of the building, which is about 200 years old. The evening was free and much time was spent trying various Spanish dishes and especially the wines.
The following day, after a really good buffet breakfast, the group followed Joaquín to the old quarter where a visit to a Tableau museum had been arranged. These tableaux are representations of the stations of the cross, each one depicting the various actions in life-size statuary. These tableaux (called Pasos by the Spanish) are processed around the town on the shoulders of carriers and it was really amazing to the group how this was managed. It was explained that each tableau has its own group, the members, who take responsibility for the care of the tableau during the year and carry it around the town at Easter. The tableau of the Last Supper contains images of all the participants.
Following the consumption of another ‘menu del dia’, the group headed off to the cathedral where they spent a fantastic couple of hours touring the various chapels and learning their history. This was followed by a visit to a waterwheel museum alongside the river Segura. Here they were shown how the flour and peppers were ground by huge stones that were driven by water power before electricity. After viewing the actual mechanisms, the group was shown a model of the mill which showed how it worked. Some were so impressed with this that they wanted to take it home with them! After this excitement, more Spanish wine and foods were needed and the evening passed in comfort and jollity.
Day 3, after another good breakfast, the group was carried to Cartagena where the morning was spent in the Roman museum and amphitheatre where some of the group mounted the stage and showed their knowledge of Shakespeare and some poets. After a fantastic time there, lunch was taken in the street with another ‘menu del dia’, and accompanied by a lot of light-hearted banter, most of the time in Spanish. That afternoon was spent in the Sub Aquatic Archealogical museum, where remains of Carthaginian biremes were displayed. This suited Don because one of his many hobbies is study of the Punic wars between Carthage and Rome and at the end of the visit he was offered a job by the museum. Returning to Murcia the evening was again spent enjoying Spanish cuisine and, more importantly, the wine.
Day 4 was a free day for the group to spend as they wished. Of course some members headed for the shops, whilst the rest revisited some of the sites already seen. Some even decided that they should ascend the historic tower of the cathedral, even though this meant lots of stairs. They were very happy when they discovered that the majority of the height to be climbed was achieved via ramps! After a day that everybody agreed had been very enjoyable, the group gathered for the last evening together to chat over their experiences. This was obviously achieved with help from the wines that were being consumed and the relaxed atmosphere of life in Spain.
All agreed that the excursion had been an undoubted success which was really helped by the local population accepting the attempts of the group to communicate and helping with the vocabulary. The friendly atmosphere that existed throughout the visit, as well as the liquid fuel made the whole exercise a very enjoyable experience and all of the group were sad that it had to end. They had not conquered Spain but they certainly got a taste of ‘real’ Spain. Roll on the next one. Don Collins.
I have just received the following from our friend Joaquín Verdu Dolerá (he was our host and guide), who has seen the report about the visit here on the website and has written to me about it. What he wrote is as follows:-
‘El grupo fue extraordinario y muy amable conmigo y guardó un buen recuerdo de ellos. He leído la página de Google y todo lo que puedo decir es que siento una enorme satisfacción al saber que la estancia en Murcia les pareció corta que lo pasaron muy bien. Por mi parte se puede repetir la experiencia cuando queráis. Mis saludos para todos.’
In English this reads:-
‘The group were fantastic and friendly with me and I have good memories of them. I have read the page on google and all I can say is that I feel a huge satisfaction knowing that the stay in Murcia seemed short to them and that they had a good time. For my part the experience can be repeated whenever you want. Greetings to you all.’
I think this is the “icing on the cake” of a very successful venture! Don Collins.