On 28th April, 2016, we were making our way towards Jalón by car, having taken the ferry to Bilbao. We had stayed overnight at an intriguing old castle in Grisel, near Tarazona. On our second day, Francine’s cunning plan was to break our onward journey by calling in to Daroca, an apparently interesting little town not far off our intended route. However, as I wrote at the time in “Tarazona and Beyond”:
… the rain began again and, with temperatures topping out at 7°C, we bailed out and headed for the autopista towards Teruel.
Now we would be heading back towards Bilbao for our return ferry and the weather looked more favourably set, so Francine decided to resurrect her plan to visit Daroca, hoping to find a bite of lunch. We locked up Casa Libelule and hit the road in Jalón at ~08:00 and called into our regular coffee stop at Barracas – it’s the Lady Bar next door that does it – for a nature break and leg stretch, before arriving in a sunny Daroca at ~12:30. We found street parking and began to wander. The temperature was a blissful 24°C.
We’d read something describing the appeal of Daroca being in its whole, rather than in any one or two monuments in particular. Its centre is a medieval city enclosed by a three and a half kilometre long wall with, it is said, 114 towers. Given its 13th/14th century era, It sports a mixture of Muslim and Christian architectures. There is basically one long thoroughfare running through town bracketed between the two main original gates. We had parked outside one of these gates.
On our journey to Cuenca some weeks ago, we had taken a coffee break in a small town called Siete Aguas [Seven Waters] in which, over a trough, were seven water spouts. Just outside the town gate, Daroca went several better with what looked like a rather over the top 20 water spouts.
The temperature may have been perfect but it was Monday again. As a rule, it seems best to avoid searching Spanish towns for eateries on a Monday because many tend to close. Of course, finding one open isn’t impossible but the selection is more limited. We saw a very local looking bar but weren’t sure if it did food; It’s tables were also more or less in the main street. What appeared to be the main square looked little more promising and there was a workman using a noisy angle-grinder right opposite. Move on.
Having walked the length of the main street, more appealing and certainly quieter, was a courtyard within an hotel, the hotel of 100 balconies, complete with a cafe and menu. No traffic and no angle-grinders – we girded our loins and sat down.
Nothing happened immediately so I got up again and wandered into the cafe. Señor Barman was serving someone else. When he’d finished, I said “dos cañas”, in my best bar Spanish. The barman dutifully pulled two small draught beers. I followed up by muttering something about “para comer” [roughly, something to eat, at least I hoped so] before taking the beers to our table. Señor Barman came out with table settings and an assortment of menus, which we began to study.
We had tried and failed to order pulpo [octopus] at a previous establishment during our stay – “no tengo pulpo” [I don’t have octopus] – and here it was again, with potatoes. Being fans of octopus, we resolved to try again.
In the fullness of time señor Barman returned. “¿Tienes pulpo?” [do you have octopus?], I enquired, jauntily. “Si”, he replied, then immediately scraped up the menus and promptly disappeared back into the bar. I can only assume that my question had been interpreted as some kind of order. But, but, but … there’s two of us and we both wanted pulpo. I got up again and went back into the bar to clarify, “dos pulpos”, I said fluently. He nodded.
We drained our glasses whilst waiting so I returned to the bar again to get more drinks. Francine fancied wine this time. Because I’ve been well trained by a very polite mother, I took our empty glasses back into the bar with me. I plonked them on the counter and waited while he pulled another two beers, presumably for someone else.Wrong. Señor Barman turned and presented me with “dos cañas mas”. Señor Barman seemed to be good at jumping to conclusions without waiting for a specific order. Not only had he scuttled off making a still unknown assumption about the pulpo, now he’d assumed I just wanted refills of the same drinks. Curious. Attentive but curious. Fortunately the beers were small; Francine could manage it. I took her beer back to her, smirking an explanation.
Two plates of pulpo turned up. It was very good. Quite honestly, one plate between us would’ve sufficed. 😀