Welcoming is the first word which spang to mind, as soon as I reached Tarazona.
Located some 80km north of Zaragoza, the town moves at a sedate pace. A little river flows through the town center; narrow cobblestoned streets climb up towards impressive historical sites like the Town Hall, the Cathedral and La Juderia.
The streets are lined with pretty cafes and restaurants and small shops, where the owners have time for their customers, chat away and explain their wares.
Butchers, fishmongers and pastry shops are obviously much preferred to supermarkets. No stress, no hurry, people who you have never met, greet you in the street in passing.
The welcoming theme started already at the bus station in Zaragoza. Five buses were lined up apparently going to Tarazona but I didn’t have a clue which one to take. I asked a young guy who was standing nearby and not only did he direct me to the correct bus, which he also took, but walked with me to my hotel. We got talking and it turned out that he, too, is a writer, owner of a delightful blog called Ser un Tusitala and author of an interesting book.
When he heard that the purpose of my visit wasn’t Tarazona as such but the witches of Trasmoz, a tiny mountain village some 30km away, he immediately offered to accompany me and bring a friend with a car to drive us there. Thanks again for a wonderful day, Alberto and Jaime.
The welcome continued with the arrival at my hotel, the very unique Hostal Santa Agueda. Conveniently located within walking distance of all the major monuments (you never have to walk far anyway), it is decorated with antiques, features beamed ceilings and..is a shrine to Raquel Meller, a vedette and actress of the 20s who was super famous at the time in Paris and hails from Tarazona.
There is not a wall space left which isn’t covered with photos and news paper cuttings. The charming owner told me story after story, not only about Raquel but also about history, art and culture in Tarazona and the Moncayo and about the annual film festival which is held in August. At the end of my two day stay, I felt like family.
As if that wasn’t enough, I got another warm welcome from Violeta of the Tourist Information Office. The castle of Trasmoz and the Witch of the Year can only be visited by appointment. I had tried to make one but for some reasons, my emails went astray and I never got a reply. So, here I was rearing to go to Trasmoz, faced with the possible failure of my mission. I also only had limited time and couldn’t stay on for days on end.
Violeta to the rescue! She hit the phones and within minutes she not only arranged my visit to castle and witch but also a private guided tour of the cathedral and the archbishop’s palace, dropped an armload of beautiful books and leaflets in my hands, marked routes on my map and sent me on my way, urging me to return with whatever question I might have or advice I might need.
Even the weather Gods were in my favour. Prior to my arrival, it had rained heavily and further rain was forecast. But, instead, the sun was shining.
My next posts will be about the great monuments of Tarazona and, of course of my encounter with Lola, Witch of the Year of Trasmoz. But, having encountered so much kindness which made for an exceptionally pleasant and successful visit, I felt the need to dedicate a special thank you post to my lovely helpers.