The Mole Diaries: Murcia
Murcia by malias
Jennifer Russell studies Spanish & Linguistics at the University of Manchester. She spent her year abroad working as an English Language Assistant for 8 months in a secondary school in Murcia. Here are her top tips about the city...Upon choosing my preferred region for my year abroad in Spain, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be placed in the South. The food, the people, the different cultures and the weather were all important factors. I have recently finished my stint as an English Language Assistant in the region of Murcia and here is a little insight into the Spanish city…
On arrival in Murcia I was lucky enough to have sorted my accommodation out via the internet and would highly recommend this. It saves time, money and a lot of stress especially after a scary first flight away! I lived right in the centre of the city, a 5 minute walk from the main University campus and the buzzing nightlife. I lived with 3 Spanish girls and found it to be very beneficial. I admit that it is very hard at first to fit in and seems so much easier to stay in your room on Skype all night! However, once you find your feet and start to socialise, it’s a fantastic way to improve your language and especially learn the colloquialisms of the area! Living with Spanish people and immersing yourself in the culture admittedly can get very tiring and I am lucky to also have a great group of English friends whom I met with at weekends and travelled around with. When we’re all together it just feels like one big holiday! We’ve had some fantastic trips including one to the Cádiz festivals that was organised by the University Erasmus group. I worked in a school half an hour outside of Murcia and had to catch the local bus service into the town. This wasn’t a problem at all and the buses were very reliable and cheap.
From speaking to a lot of people, Murcia seems to be a forgotten region of Spain. I remember first choosing it not really knowing what to expect! When I first arrived I was overwhelmed by the size and needed a map for quite a while. There are lots of little streets packed full of tapas bars, coffee bars and ice-cream shops. On the main strips. there are many clothes shops and quite often a bargain to be had at the local markets throughout the week. The main attraction in Murcia is the cathedral and the plazas that surround it. It stands tall above the apartment blocks and is a beautiful sight as it’s lit-up at night. Quite often, when I finished school I would take my book to sit by it in the sunshine, maybe sampling a cerveza or two!
The city also has a fantastic bus service to places all over Spain. We usually catch the bus to the beach on Sundays which is only 40 minutes away and we’ve managed to visit Alicante andValencia for weekend breaks. Murcia is directly in between Murcia airport and Alicante airport, but I would definitely recommend flying to Alicante and using the direct bus service to the centre of Murcia.
Murcia is definitely more of a nighttime city which is probably down to the big university, located slap bang in the centre. The place is packed full of students during the week with Thursdays being the big night out here. You’ll find prices are quite reasonable during the week but at weekends it does tend to get a bit more expensive. We often go to Príncipe de Galés where you can get a bucket of 12 beers for 8 euros or Fitzpatricks for cider! Another cool place for drinks is Revolver, the music is always good and they have live Spanish bands on at the weekend. There are many choices of where to eat with a lot of Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Spanish restaurants filling the plazas. Once you arrive you’ll immediately choose your favourites and will find it difficult to try out new things! Even after a year in Murcia I was still discovering little hidden bars. If you want to sample some traditional Murcian cuisine which the locals are very proud of then try the tiny tapas bars around the university area. Tapas like ensaladilla Rusa, zarangollo and montaditos are worth getting stuck into!
Murcia is extremely proud of its agriculture and every Easter they have many parades that are fantastic to watch. In the 2nd week of the holidays there is a festival called Bando de la Huerta were the Murcian people dress in traditional clothes and the city turns into one massive botellón! The streets are filled with people drinking and singing and there are lots of stalls called barracas where you can buy traditional food and clothes. I recommend trying paparajotes – a lemon leaf coated in crispy batter and sugar which turns out as a rather unusual pancake. Be careful though, don’t eat the actual leaf! Another day during this week is El entierro de la Sardina and a big model of the fish stands in the river and is burnt in a big bonfire with lots of fireworks and singing. Spain is renowned for its festivals and those taking place in Murcia are definitely a must-see!