Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, December 07, 2012

People aren't nice about Albacete

My mum reads these blogs so I'm going to be in trouble. If you tell Spanish people, presumably those who aren't from Albacete, that you are going there they trot out a little phrase of advice "Albacete, caga y vete" Albacete: shit and leave. There, I've done it now. No pocket money for weeks. Better not to recount the story of my first ever visit to Albacete on a perishing December night as it involves a porn cinema. I could end up grounded for years.

Maggie is not here so I'm alone. She's not a big fan of Albacete anyway. Personally I like it. On a sizzling August afternoon with the heat haze rippling off the plain I think it's about as Spanish as Spanish can get. Today it was a bit dull and then a bit wet.

The town isn't large. It's small or at least it feels small though apparently it has 170,000 people. We, I was with my pal Geoff, found ourselves wandering in circles because we had no map. I would have liked a map. Indeed we followed the signs to the tourist office so we could get one. The tourist office was closed. It was a particularly splendid example of the art in that it had no sign outside to say it was a tourist office. We had to ask someone where it was although we were standing just 10 metres from it. I presume it was closed because yesterday was a bank holiday and local government employees often get the bridging days to form a long weekend. Lots of Spaniards would have been on holiday today but Albacete isn't a big tourist destination so presumably there wouldn't have been any work for the tourism people anyway. Hang on, do I glimpse a paradox here?

We did stumble across the Cathedral though and opposite was a very green building with an ornate frontage. I took a snap and walked over to see what it was. The sign next to the door said MCA. It wasn't a big sign; think solicitor's office brass plate sort of size. Underneath, in quite small lettering it said Museo Municipal de la Cuchilleria. Albacete is famous for knives. Like Sheffield and Toledo it has a long history of finely crafted blades and here was the local museum dedicated to knives, scissors and all things cutlery. We paid a very reasonable entry fee and went in. I thought it was a good museum. Geoff doesn't really read Spanish and, as all the labelling and notices were monolingual, our pace around the exhibits was more hare than tortoise. The video was in English though so we watched that through. I was impressed enough to buy a couple of books telling the history of knife making in Albacete.

Once we'd eaten a rather ordinary meal we took people's advice, at least the second part.

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