Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain towards the end of January 2018 for about a month
'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Letting the train take the strain on a day out to Murcia

A few weeks ago I had some guests staying here and one day I decided we should take a trip to Murcia, a city I had never visited before (except for visits to La Nueva Condomina and to Ikea), specially as my guests had expressed a wish to see some traditional architecture in a large Spanish city. A couple of weeks before that, someone else here had mentioned that he and his wife had enjoyed a day in Murcia and had avoided the 'hassle' of trying to park a car there, never mind navigating through an unfamiliar city, by the simple expedient of travelling there by train as there is a pretty frequent service from nearby Totana.

I thought this was an excellent idea so did a little research and found that there is an hourly service (a little less frequently later in the evening) to and from Murcia on the regional rail service - you can get timetable details here for local services in the Murcia/Alicante area, within the main RENFE website. The railway station is a pleasant small-town station, not dissimilar from our local station at home in Nairn in Scotland (except that at Totana you have to cross the track, for the train in the direction of Murcia, down some steps and across the railway line where there are wooden planks between the rails - just check there's no train coming when you undertake this manoeuvre!) and there is adequate free car-parking space in the station car park. The cost of the journey is very modest - at the time of writing a day return (a return ticket is called "Ida y vuelta") costs just €4.60. A bargain, I think! Trains in Spain are generally very punctual in my experience and this line is no exception; the carriages are quite clean although the ones we were on were a little scruffy - but the journey is only 38 minutes so that is hardly a worry for most.

Totana railway station - 21 April 2009

Click here to see an enlargement of this photograph.

If you don't have a street map of Murcia (we didn't) there is a very good street map in a glass-fronted board just to the left at the front of the station, from which you should be able to get directions to the river, across which is the City Hall (Ayuntamiento) and beyond that and a little to the right the Cathedral and many other fine buildings; it'll take around 20 or so minutes to walk it - there's loads of shade and a nice public garden to walk through at one point and there are cafes and fountains in front of the City Hall as a reward for your exertions. The Cathedral is open from 10am-1pm then 5-7pm; we didn't arrive until just before 1pm so we occupied our afternoon with coffee, ice-cream, some more walking around then a leisurely lunch (there are loads of nice restaurants dotted around) - we found one in a nice square near the theatre (currently under renovation) and following that some 'retail therapy' at the larger of the two branches of El Corte Inglés, before wandering back to the Cathedral through some picturesque narrow lanes (and more coffee).

Murcia Cathedral and city - 21 April 2009

Click here to see enlargements of all these photographs, where you will also find detailed descriptions of each photograph.

Click here to see enlargements of all these photographs, where you will also find detailed descriptions of each photograph.

After our visit to the Cathedral (and the museum within it) and after another refreshment break at a café, we began to wander back in the general direction of the station, although crossing one of the fine modern bridges a little farther down the river, then through a residential apartment area until we hit the railway track, then headed back along one of the streets near it (without crossing to the other side of the tracks) as we reckoned that way we would eventually get to the station - which we did with adequate time to spare before the train we wanted to get was due. Wandering through a normal residential area (including some obviously more propserous areas and some quite scruffy and probably poorer areas) was a very interesting and enjoyable experience after our day of 'culture' and wandering through the older more 'touristy' part of the city. It really is a very easy and painless way of visiting Murcia and on arrival back at Totana the car was where we left it in the car park (much emptier now, as most of the commuters would already have returned home I suppose). It was an easy drive back down the motorway toward Mazarron Country Club with a stop at Camposol on the way to satisfy the sudden craving for (perfectly disgustingly soggy, in my opinion) fish'n'chips on the part of my guests; filling and tasty, but not an experience to be oft-repeated, I think. It was otherwise an excellent day, though.

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