Jaen – Ciudad Vieja – Food & Drink around Plaza del Pósito

Posted in Andalusia, Ciudad Vieja, Jaen, Jaen Province, Plaza del Pósito, Spain with tags , , on November 30, 2015 by gannet39

Plaza del Pósito is a pleasant little square in the newer part of the old town, just before you get up to the cathedral area.


There are several bars and taperias around the plaza and in nearby squares. My favourite is…

El Pato Rojo (Elementary A) 12 Calle Bernabé Soriano


‘The Red Duck’ is a boisterous marisqueria that’s buzzing at the weekends (you ‘ll be lucky to get a seat).


I come here in the week when I want to eat seafood. The quality is very good.


Dean Bar (Intermediate B), 2 Plaza Dean Mazas (next square down the hill)

I like the music here (soul, funk) so I sometimes drop in for a night cap. You can sit out on their terrace in the square too.

They have a selection of about thirty rums and twenty gins but only two Spanish brandies, which is a good indication of current drinking trends in Spain.

El Abujelo at 8 Calle Hurtado (the parallel street to Calle Bernabé Soriano) seems to be the late bar to go to.

The prettiest house I’ve seen in Jaen backs onto the square and has its front door on Calle Bernabé Soriano.


Jaen – Ciudad Nueva – Places for Food around Paseo de la Estacion

Posted in Andalusia, Ciudad Nuevo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Paseo de la Estacion, Spain with tags , , , on November 29, 2015 by gannet39

The ‘new town’ isn’t officially an area but for the purposes of this post it’s the more modern part of town, on the lower slopes of the hill. In particular I mean the two roughly parallel main streets, Paseo de la Estacion and Avenida de Madrid, and their offshoots.

Here’s my Google map of Jaen that shows all the places mentioned in all these posts, and a few more besides. The best place to eat around Paseo de la Estacion, or anywhere in town, is Casa Antonio which gets its own post.

As Jaen has such a good rep for quality ingredients, a visit to the local deli for take home treats is a must. The most famous one in town is Casa Paco.

They have two locations, one at 7 Plaza de los Jardinillos (opposite the main post office), and the second at 12 Paseo de la Estacion, both of which are very well stocked with local goodies.


I always pick up a couple of local prize-winning olive oils here. The Paseo de la Estacion shop usually have a display of the best eight local oils on a special shelf.

I’d loved to have taken a big batch of the actual olives home too but one of the kind ladies said that the plastic tubs would explode in my baggage at an altitude!

Casa Paco are also known for their crisps which they bag on the premises. www.patatascasapaco.com The toasted almonds are a good buy as well.

Meson Rio Chico (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Nueva

A small friendly place recommended by Frommers, although without a star rating.

I came here on my first night and had my first experience of the famous local olives. These tasty specimens were fairly typical of what every restaurant provided. They’re definitely the longest olives I’ve ever seen!


The tasting menu looked like a good deal so I gave it a whirl. It consisted of…

Hojaldre Relleno de Guacamole, Salmon y Delicia de Pina (puff pastry stuffed with guacamole and salmon with a pineapple sauce).


Tosta de Cremoso de Patata con Crujiente de Lomo de Orza y Reduccion P.X. (creamy potato with a crispy fillet of orza and a reduction of Pedro Ximenez sherry).

Timbal de Veruditas de Temporada y Queso de Cabra Caramelizado, Tomate y Albahaca (a timbale of seasonal veg and caramelized goat cheese, tomato and basil).


Lomito de Atun en Cama de Ajos Tiernos, Pasas y Crema de Citrico (loin of tuna with tender garlic, raisins and citrus flavoured cream). I remember I wasn’t too keen on this combination.


Carrillada Iberica en Salsa de Esparragos Trigueros (beef cheeks in wild asparagus sauce) was tasty but didn’t look like much.

To drink I had a bottle of Campo Ameno, Syrah Barrica from the local Tierra de la Sierra Sur de Jaen IGP. Judging from the pattern on the bottle, this was made by the same people as the excellent Marques de Campomena I had at the parador.


Finally, Tarta ‘Puro Chocolate’ con Dulce de Natillas y Frutos Rojos (‘pure chocolate’ tart with sweet custard and red fruits) which I had with a glass of PX.


This is a cheaper place than Casa Antonio with similar ambitions but not quite achieving them (B/C). I’d definitely go again though.

Casa Vincent (Intermediate B), 3 Calle del Cristo Rey, Tel. 953 232 222, Closed Sunday eve and Monday

A Frommers one star suggestion, this is reputed to be one of the best places in town. It’s old school and a bit formal with a dark wood interior and bulls heads on the walls.


If you are interested in the Moorish influence on local cuisine, this would be a good place to come, although the ‘typical local dishes’ I requested were just interesting and not particularly amazing. I’m sure if you stick to more standard orders you’d score it higher than I did.

As well as the usual olives, some excellent toasted almonds were put in front of me as soon as I sat down.


For the first tapa I had cardoons with egg, a dish of Moorish origin, which came sizzling on a plate in a beautifully carved wooden tray. It looked better than it tasted (C).


I also had artichocke hearts with ham (B) and some pork with chips and gravy which I wasn’t particularly keen on (C+).


This was washed down with another decent (B) local red called ‘Glosa’ from the Sierra de Sur Jaen IGP.


Finally a shot of Crema de Café (B) made by the same Castillo de Jaen brand who also made the Anis I had at the parador.


Service was friendly from the younger English-speaking guy but the older chap (the owner?) didn’t want to try to understand my Spanish. I would come back but again give me Casa Antonio over this traditional place any time.

La Verja (Low Intermediate B+), 56 Paseo de la Estacion, at the bottom of the hill

A good place for simple home-cooked local dishes near the school I was working at. There’s nothing fancy about the food or the surroundings.

I had a menu-del-dia type lunch here twice and enjoyed it both times. The lentil soup, mixed salad and rabbit with garlic all stick in my mind as being good (B+). Can’t remember how much the bills came to but it was definitely very cheap.


Jaen – Ciudad Nueva – Paseo de la Estacion – Casa Antonio

Posted in Andalusia, Ciudad Nuevo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Paseo de la Estacion, Spain with tags on November 28, 2015 by gannet39

I like this restaurant so much that it gets a post to itself. It is the best place in town.

Casa Antonio (Advanced A), 3 Calle Fermin Palma, Tel. 953 270 262, www.casantonio.es, closed Sunday evening and Monday

Chef Pedro Sánchez uses high quality local and international ingredients for innovative presentations. I like to treat myself to the Menú Degustación which includes two appetizers, five entrees, a fish and a meat course and two desserts. The current price is €52, less than €5 a dish, which is great value given what you get.

In 2015 I started with a chilled glass of Oloroso and some fantastic olives (A).


And I tried a couple of their wonderful local olive oils (A) with the bread.

I followed this with Pan, Aciete y Chocolate (bread, oil and chocolate), a mainstay of the menu (B+).

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I told the owner I wanted to try local wines and he suggested a bottle of Eclo which was very good (B+).


This was followed by a couple of dishes utilizing I think the famous prawns from nearby Huelva. First prawns with yellow chilli (A).


And then a red prawn in a broth (B).


Then Ajo Blanco de Coco, Pina, Albahaca; an innovative take on a classic local soup, another mainstay (A).


The asparagus in a mayonnaise based sauce with trout roe was very subtle (C).


The Presa Iberica, smoked pork with a caper sauce, had heaps of flavor (A).


Then I think some roast suckling pig.


Then a tasty segment of Butifarra de Pichón (pigeon?) sausage. I love this Catalan sausage, just wish there’d been more of it (B+).


Melon with sorbet and crystalised basil was a good cleanser but didn’t have much flavor (C).


On the other hand the delicate bread-pudding like dessert was fantastic (A).


It went very well with a glass of excellent Malaga Muscat (A).


Also a complementary flask of very lemony homemade limocello, which was nice but not as strong as the Italian version (B).


They have quite a collection of Spanish brandies here, about thirty in all, about ten of which I hadn’t tried. I took pot luck and went for the 1885 Gran Reserva Malaga which was fine but not amazing (B).


As always, I left a very happy bunny.

And here is my review from 2013:

The tasting menu was only €47 for about 12 different plates, not including a couple of little extras not pictured. These were:

Pan, Aciete y Chocolate (bread, oil and chocolate); an unusual combination that works.

Trufas de Perdiz Escabechada, Foie Tartufo (truffles of pickled partridge and foie) and Croqueta de Trufa y Parmesano (truffle and Parmesan croquette), served with root vegetable crisps.


Ajo Blanco de Coco, Pina, Albahaca (a local cold almond soup, not garlic as you might think, with coconut milk, pineapple and basil).

Yema, Trufa, Patata (a whole poached egg rather than just a yolk and grated white truffle, I think on a bed of potato puree). So delicious.


Ensalada de Perdiz de Campo y su Escabeche Emulsionado (country partridge salad with a marinade emulsion). In Spain escabeche is a vinegar marinade which I’m not particularly fond of but I didn’t notice it here.


Morrococo, Cocido Mareao. I know the former is a local chickpea mash sometimes referred to as Jaen hummus! Cocido is a stew but I’m not sure what ‘mareao’ refers to. Either it’s leftover stew that in this case has been mashed into the chickpeas, or it’s the stock from boiling the stew ingredients which is sometimes eaten as a separate soup, as is probably what they’ve done here.


Papada, Anguila, Mango-Pasion (possible pork jowl with Anguilla eel and mango something).


El Pez (Segun Lonja) or fish of the day depending on market availability. Not sure what fish it was but it looks like bream or bass.


Cordero Segureño, Naranja, Cardamomo (local Segureña lamb with orange and cardamom).


This might be Melon, Ginebra, Manzanilla al Limon (melon, ginger and apple with lemon) as per menu but the photo doesn’t really match the description.


There was definitely apple in this dessert though.


Last of all I was given some complimentary chocs at the end and this strange milky digestif which was nice but again I don’t recall what it was exactly.


All the wines I had here were excellent. I sampled two Ribera del Duero reds (the Matarromera crizanza and a young wine by AC), a Rioja (Bai Gorri 2007) and a local red Marcelino Serrano from the Sierra de la Sur de Jaen IGP.


With a dessert I also had a glass of Moscatel de Alejandria, an ancient grape.


An excellent meal at a very reasonable price.

And a couple of other reviews of my first meals at Casa Antonio:

One of the highlights for me is trying their local olive oils. The flavours are unlike any oils I’d tasted before and a couple are luminous green in colour!


On my first ever visit I started with a small bowl of salmorejo, my favourite cold soup.


After this I had Espaldilla de Cordero Segureno con Pure de Patata y Ajo Morado (Shoulder of Segureño Lamb with Potato Puree and Purple Garlic).


And to finish some aged Manchego cheese. It could have done with some membrillo but it was still good.


On the next occasion, Arroz Negro de Calamares su Alioli (rice made with squid and its ink with an accompanying sauce of emulsified garlic and oil).


Can’t remember all the wines I tried, but they were very good.

Followed by Cochinillo Lechal en Dos Tiempos, Cebolleta a la Naranja y Cardamomo (twice-cooked (?) suckling piglet with chives, orange and cardamom).


Not quite sure what this apple and cream creation was called but it was very nice.


Suffice to say my stomach is always singing when I leave this place!

Getting High in Jaen

Posted in Andalusia, Barrio Antiguo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Spain, Uncategorized with tags on November 27, 2015 by gannet39

One day when I had the morning off I decided to have another crack at climbing up Santa Catalina hill to the castle of the same name. Knowing it would be an hour’s hard climb I packed a bottle of water and set off at 8am before the sun got too hot. My last attempt back in 2013 had failed because I didn’t know how to find the final path up the last part of the steep slope to the castle gate. This time I’d done my research and knew where to go.


From the cathedral square walk along Calle Maestra to Plaza Audencia and turn left up Calle Aldana and it’s continuation Calle  Parilla.


This takes you to the aptly named Calle Buenavista which ends at Calle Circunvalación (the road that curls round the back of the castle hill which you would take if you were driving).


Turn right onto Circunvalación and after a few yards you’ll see a gravel road going up the hill to your left. Follow it until it bends round to the right and either take the faint path that cuts through the woods on the left or stay on the road until you get to the remains of the castle curtain wall and take the footpath that goes up along the inside of the wall.




After a steep climb you’ll come out on Circunvalación again but now you’ll be within sight of the castle gate.


Follow the road up through the gate and the first building you’ll come to is the Parador, a government owned hotel and restaurant, more of which below.

Continue past it and you’ll come to the Santa Catalina castle itself. It’s now a museum and is well worth a visit. Entrance cost €3.50 in 2015.

You can get a good sense of castle‘s long and varied history from the displays but the real reward is the stunning view from the top of the towers.


Here’s the video I took, please ignore the panting!

When you come out of the castle you can continue along to the end of the ridge to the large cross that overlooks the town.


It was first erected by King Ferdinand when the Christians retook the town from the Moors and so intentionally it has a great view of the cathedral which was itself built over the mosque. If you’re unlucky it can be a bit busy up here with school and tour groups.


As I mentioned earlier, next to the castle is the parador, a government-owned hotel built in 1965 on top of some of the castle ruins. It blends quite well with the castle, especially inside.

Spain has a policy of opening parador’s either in or in association to many of its ancient monuments. I think it’s a good idea as it generates funds for their preservation and helps make them living buildings.

On my final day in 2013 I decided I just had to get to the top of Santa Catalina hill, and if I couldn’t do it on foot, I’d do it by car, so I booked a table at the parador’s restaurant and took a taxi each way. For some reason it was a cheaper fare going there than getting back!

When you go inside, after first walking past the hotel reception and along a corridor, you get to ‘the lounge’, a huge square room with soaring vaulted ceilings, high chimneys on facing walls and a wall of windows with Moorish wooden shutters.



The décor in here consists of long swords hanging on the walls, alongside portraits of Christian saints. One shows a knight with a halo riding a horse and smiting the heads of some turban-wearing men with his sword. Not very PC but this is the actual history of this place. A Moorish castle once occupied the hill but it was put under siege several times by the Christians who eventually captured it and built this newer fortification in its place.


Passing through this room you come to the restaurant which has been designed to look like a Medieval banqueting hall; very long with a low ceiling and several arches.


It’s decorated in sturdy Medieval style with clunky wooden light fittings and a huge tapestry showing a battle scene on the end wall.


Unfortunately the food at these paradors is often not very good so I wasn’t counting on a gourmet meal. The Gazpacho Andaluz, with two halves of quail egg and a swirl of excellent olive oil, was pretty good (B+), but that’s quite hard to get wrong if you have quality ingredients.


However the grilled leg of goat came with the kind of mixed veg (diced carrots, beans and peas) that you get from a bag in the freezer, and the solitary potato looked processed as well. A swirl of reduced vinegar failed to make it posh (C).

The saving grace was the award-winning local red, Marques de Campomeno 2011 (B+), a Tempranillo/Cab Sauv, which is now my favourite local tipple whenever I’m in Jaen.


To finish a local dessert, Dulce de Gachas con Matalauva y Aciete de Oliva Extra Virgen, which translates as a sweet set porridge, topped with aniseed and extra virgin olive oil. The main ingredients of most Gachas recipes seem to be milk, flour, sugar and whatever flavourings are to hand; a sweet born out of poverty if ever there was one. Despite its simplicity it was quite nice (B) and the waiter loved me for ordering it!


Generally the front of house staff here were very pleasant but they took a long time to attend to me, although to be fair they do have a lot of ground to cover.

After eating I decamped to the lounge with a glass of the local sweet anis, made by Castello de Jaen, which seemed the only fitting way to end the evening.


So a  mediocre and slightly pricey food experience but the interior of the parador and the views of the town at night were worth it.

Eating and Drinking in Anzio

Posted in Anzio, Italy, Lazio with tags , , , , on November 26, 2015 by gannet39

As you’d expect there’s a string of good seafood restaurants around the harbour in Anzio. I managed four of them in three days, all enjoyable for different reasons. I list them below in order of expense. There are also a few suggestions for other places that I didn’t have time to go to.

Da Carlo (Elementary A), 9 Via Padre Lombardi, on the corner with Via Porto Neroniano, open every day.

Recommended by a colleague, this is a very plain and quite dilapidated family restaurant where you can get good seafood for next to nothing.

I had four plates of antipasti; prawns, octopus, fish and a big bowl of steamed mussels, all of which were delicious (B+). With a half-litre of not particularly nice house white (C) and a shot of shop-bought Sicilian limoncello (B), the bill came to €15; an absolute bargain.


La Fraschetta del Mare (Intermediate B+), 38 Corso del Popolo, closed Monday.

I had the Menu Fraschetta which involved ten dishes of antipasti (all B+/C), for €16.

My favourites (all A) were the Insalata di Palamite, a salad involving a small member of the tuna family, Sgombro Cotto al Vapore con Salsa di Cipolle Caramellate, aka steamed mackerel with caramelised onion, and the Merluzzo al Gratin or hake baked with cheese.

The Polenta con Ragu di Mare, Couscous al Sugo di Baccala and Insalata Verde were all fine, as was the fillet of Marmora, a local white fish (all B).


I wasn’t that impressed with the Sughero con Brocolletti Ripassati, nor the Spaghetti Vongole al Sugo di Tomate which seemed an unusual combination (both C).


The Lumachine alla Marinara, sea snails with a tomato sauce, were interesting but I didn’t finish them as I was full (B-).


With a half litre of okay house white (B-) and a homemade limoncello (A), the total cost was a measly €26. Another steal.

Pierino (Advanced A-), 3 Piazza Cesare Battisti

Considered by the locals and many of the guides to be the best place in town, it is indeed very good but comes second to Romolo below in my humble opinion.

The dining room is quite plain and simple and the service is very efficient but not particularly effervescent. The owner seems quite dour but he was considerate and attentive and even gave me a complimentary spoonful of sturgeon eggs when I asked what ‘caviale’ was on the menu.

Before that I began with the Antipasto Misto Mare (all A/B) which involved a plate of diced grilled squid and two canapés with some undetermined white fish.


Then a mix of battered and fried squid and sardines.

This was followed by a Mazzancolle (king prawn) on a bed of mashed potato (B) alongside a red prawn with tiny slices of raw artichoke.


Also a fillet of Marmora with a pine nut sauce next to a grantinated crayfish.


The standout (A) was a salad of diced squid with lambs lettuce and strawberries, over which the waiter grated bottarga secchi (dried grey mullet roe).


I still felt a bit hungry/greedy so the owner recommended I follow up with an excellent pasta dish of fresh handmade spaghetti with prawns and wild asparagus (A).


The owner recommended a local Chardonnay called Sara by La Luna del Casale which had an unusual flavour not entirely to my liking (C+).


I asked for a local digestif but was given an Amaro Montenegro from Bologna, an okay (B) but somewhat perfumey amaro to my taste.

The total came to €55 I think, which was fine given the quality of the seafood, however I would probably go to this next place instead if I were to return to Anzio.

Romolo al Porto (Advanced A+), 19/20 Via Porto Innocenziano, closed Wednesday.

This is a fantastic seafood restaurant frequented by celebrities but affordable for everyone. The people leaving as I arrived were chefs from a Michelin starred restaurant who had come for lunch and stayed for seven hours!

The multi-lingual service is exemplary and Walter Regolanti the very personable chef-proprietor is always front of house interacting with his customers. He’s quite a character as his replies to negative reviews on Tripadvisor show! Noticing I was taking so many photos, he was keen to show me his lobsters, recently caught by the restaurant’s own trawler.


They have two antipasti menus (unwritten so ask for them); crudo (raw) and cotto (cooked). Walter told me that of course the best thing would to be to have both, and as this was my last night treat, I didn’t need convincing.


I had no idea what I had let myself in for, and it was a good job I’d changed my table for a four person one because it was twice covered with plates, around twenty in all. These pictures don’t show all of it!


Each dish held a couple of goblets of top quality seafood, generally dressed very simply with olive oil. I was told what they all were but there were too many to remember. These are just the more photogenic items. It all scored A/B with only one or two disappointments.

Things that stuck in the memory were the pepperoncino marmalade (B+) which came with some deep-fried squid tentacles (B).


Also the raw Palamite tuna here was very nice (A) as was the ‘fish salad’ (A) served on the local flatbread, Pane Musica (B), so called because it makes a musical sound when it’s broken!

I love prawns and I don’t think I’ve had them in so many different ways.


I had a Sauvignon Blanc from Lazio called Follia which was pretty good (B).


After that lot I couldn’t manage a dessert but was given a few complimentary grappas; one called Giroi (A), poured from the biggest grappa bottle I’ve ever seen!


The second was a dark barrique (barrel-aged ) from Trentino called Torba Nera (B).


I was prepared for a hefty triple figure bill but I nearly fell off my seat when it came in at just €60. This is of course a fair chunk of money but still a bargain considering just how much top quality seafood I’d had.

A waiter told me that the restaurants either side also belong to Romolo, the one to the right serving sushi. Must try it next time.

Another highly recommended place is Al Turcotto (44 Riviera Vittorio Mallozzi, near Villa Nero, ristoranteturcotto.it) which has a good sea view. I’ve mapped this and a few other restaurants, gleaned from several Italian and English guides, onto this Google map.

I also wanted to go to Peppetto (turn right out of the hotel and after a hundred meters you’ll see it in a corner of a small square on the left) because in their Sala Romana in the basement you can see the wall of the old Roman Amphitheatre. No idea what the food is like though.

And you could, as a teacher suggested, walk over to neighbouring Nettuno for restaurants in a more picturesque setting.

Enoteca Del Gatto, 2 Via Giuseppe Mazzini, www.enotecadelgatto.it

This is an excellent deli that also has an adjoining wine bar, although perhaps the bar only opens in the summer. I mistimed my shopping trip and went on Thursday when it was closed. Doh!

Happily though I managed to get a few delicacies, such as these locally tinned sardines by Pollastrini, from the Buccolini Supermarket around the corner at 14 Via Adua.

Anzio has an outdoor market a bit out of the centre on Via Antium. It’s next to the school I was working at so at lunchtime I got a huge Porchetta Romana sandwich (roasted suckling pig with garlic, rosemary, sage and fennel stuffing) from a deli van for €2.50.


It was some of the best Porchetta I’ve had (A). It’s easy to see why it was the epicurean Emperor Nero’s favourite food.

In short, expect to eat very well in Anzio!

Stuff to See in Anzio

Posted in Anzio, Italy, Lazio with tags , on November 25, 2015 by gannet39

I stayed in Anzio in early March 2015 for three nights. I was unlucky with the weather as it rained for most of the time and it got quite chilly in the evenings.


I stayed at the shabby Hotel La Bussola www.labussolahotelanzio.com (€70 a night in 2015) which I hesitate to recommend due to its minimal breakfast (cardboard cornflakes, cappuccino and croissant), thin walls, very weak Wi-Fi signal (except on the ground floor) and a cramped bathroom which floods when you have a shower.

However, I put up with all this because, according to a teacher, there are no better hotels in the centre of town and I like to be relatively near all the places I want to check out. It’s also about ten minutes’ walk from the station, if you know where you’re going. Google map here.

Most people know the town for the Battle of Anzio; the bungled Allied landings towards the end of WW2 when the attackers failed to capitalise on their advantage of surprise.


Over several weeks of fighting, the old town was completely destroyed and over eighty thousand people were either killed or wounded between the two sides. Large British and American military cemeteries stand testimony nearby.

As a result there are no old buildings still standing but the town still retains some charm due to its seaside location and in the summer a few tourists come to enjoy the small beaches.

I did spot this nice Moorish influenced residence on the seafront at 12 Rivera Mallozzi.


And I quite liked the dolphins on the window lintels of this house, but that was about it in terms of architecture.


West of the harbour you’ll find Ponente Beach


Here you can see the ruins of Emperor Nero’s summer villa which was built into the cliffs, incorporating some of the natural sea caves into its structure.


Legend has it that one of these caves was extended to form a tunnel all the way to Rome, to be used as an escape route should the Emperor need to leave the capital quickly. This is unlikely though as Rome is almost fifty kilometers away and no archaeologist has ever been able to prove that it existed.

Looking out to over the waves you can see the island of Palmarola (I think) in the distance, part of the Pontine Archipelago. You can just see it on the horizon in this picture.


I wanted to take a trip to Ponza, the main island, but sadly the ferries don’t run from Anzio in the winter so I left it for another day.

Anzio is famous for its fishing industry and a fleet of trawlers operates out of the harbour. It’s a principal source of seafood for Rome and it’s rapacious restaurants.


In the afternoon when the catch has been landed, fresh fish, shrimp and crustaceans can be bought on the quayside directly from the fishermen.

There was lots of interesting sea life on display when I went, including these pink sea eels which I’d never seen before.

So Anzio is definitely a good spot to eat seafood, more of which in my next post on Eating and Drinking. If I’d had longer I’d have walked east along the shore line to Nettuno which I’m told also has some nice fish restaurants.

In conclusion then, Anzio is a nice enough place for a short stay and I’d happily come back. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to return one day as there’s still a bit of work for us English teachers to do.


A brief sojourn in Gibraltar

Posted in Gibraltar with tags , , on November 24, 2015 by gannet39

I came to Gibraltar straight from carnival in Cadiz, having only had an hour of shut eye on the coach and still feeling worse for wear. I was much too early for my flight (coaches were infrequent on carnival Sunday) and I had several hours to kill.

From the coach station you have to walk across the border and then the airport runway which is a spooky experience.


I checked my suitcase into the airport’s left luggage room and went for a look around. It was quite weird being somewhere that looked like England but with blue skies and palm trees everywhere.


First stop was for a life-saving full English breakfast at The Lord Nelson in Casemates Square. It wasn’t great (C+) but it was just what I needed after a night of partying.


I’d been told that the taxi drivers will act as tour guides and show you around the rock but it was a Sunday and I wasn’t really in the mood for, or capable of, human interaction so I decided to go for a walk by myself instead.

I walked through what is known as ‘The Town’ which was all very little England. I quite liked the Art Deco fire station but that was about it in terms of architecture for me.


Along Reclamation Road there were a series of fortified bastions which are now unused, although some of the old guns have been left for the tourists to see.


Lord Nelson features heavily as you’d imagine. Cape Trafalgar, scene of his most famous victory, is halfway between Cadiz and Gibraltar, near Barbate.


Across the bay is Algeciras, a port city built by Franco to compete with Gibraltar. I’d been a couple of years before but wasn’t too impressed (post here). The bay was full of cargo ships so business must be good for both ports.


The rock towered above me during the whole walk. I imagined it to be hollowed out and full of tunnels that had been built for defensive purposes. It even had a waterfall coming out of it although where the water came from I have no idea.


Eventually I got to Punta de Europa, the southern tip of the rock. It was a hazy day but you could just make out the coast of Africa across the straits.


Obviously this is a good place to put a big gun if you want to control access to the Mediterranean.


I was slightly surprised to find the Mosque of the Two Holy Custodians here but the name Gibraltar comes from the Arabic name Jabal Ṭāriq (جبل طارق), meaning “Mountain of Tariq”, so it does seem fitting.


My original plan was to try to circle the rock on foot but it soon became apparent that this was not possible as the roads were narrow, twisting and without pavements. I did persevere but eventually the road disappeared into a tunnel and I had no choice but to retrace my steps.


And that was my brief experience of Gibraltar, a very historic but very strange place. I left plenty to see and do next time I visit, hopefully I’ll be in better condition to appreciate it!


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