Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’

Above: Had to stop numerous times for a delicate tejas de almendra at Pasteleria Fantoba

Any reasonable, sentient person who looks at Spain, comes to Spain, eats in Spain, drinks in Spain, they’re going to fall in love.” 

Anthony Bourdain

Guess I’m a reasonable, sentient kind of girl. But, after three weeks, the time arrived to pack our bags and hop a train out of Zaragoza.

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Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Cheerful toasts echo around plazas

Above: Well-muddled mojitos at Gran Cafe Estrella de Cuba

Gathering for lively conversation over cocktails seems important in Zaragoza, and not just for young late-night partiers spilling out of tapas bars crowding the narrow streets of the city’s famed El Tubo district. People like us, canosos (gray-haired), jockey for hard-to-score tables on neighborhood plazas with college students and families with baby carriages to enjoy beer, wine and gin and tonics at all times of day – our kind of place.

We were there in the late spring, and, with COVID restrictions just loosening up, the few tourists around barely had a chance of winning the competition for outdoor spots. Maybe we were witnessing the first exuberant gatherings locals were having with friends and family they had missed seeing, their first opportunities to finally escape their apartments after the long lockdown, their first reunification with vices given up for Lent. Perhaps this is simply the year-round pursuit of happiness in Zaragoza – a good way to live.

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Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Palace celebrates the elevation of Moorish culture

The prominent promotion of culture and arts seemed paramount to Ahmad al-Muqadir (1046-1081) when he focused on the construction of his Aljaferia Palace on the banks of the Ebro River. Zaragoza was the capital of the taifa, or state, under his rule as part of the Banu Hud dynasty, and he wanted his “House of Joy” to reflect its greatness. Heirs to his kingdom followed suit, leaving architectural beauty behind that would influence regional styles for centuries ahead.

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