0204. The Magnificent Castle of Melilla (Sp 006--new)

Melilla Travel Blog

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I catch an early morning grand taxi to the Melilla border, but folks are lined up already to cross the border.  The border area area on both sides is gritty and chaotic.  At first I determine that I will not pay any of the "visa card hustlers"--but in the end I change my mind.  Howevr, the fellow refuses my money, instead requests that I bring him two empty forms once I get to the counter.  Deal.

A big sign at the crossing into Spanish territory says WELCOME in Spanish, French, English and German greeted me on the Spanish side... OK... and what about Arabic?  99% of the people that cross here are Arabic speakers...  Something just doesn't feel right about that. 

 Continue on on foot through a somewhat rough looking neighborhood with graffiti covered walls.

  But soon I start seeing signs of the typical elegant Spanish architecture...

 ...And then I see it... an absolutely magnificent castle towering over the ocean.  A castle that symbolizes the centuries of struggles in this rugged countryside.  With work still being done on it, it's been very well maintained and a lot of fun to explore. Inside there's a musuem of Spanish military history.  You can also get a free guided tour of the secret caverns beneath the castle where the Catholic clergy hid during the wars with the Arabs. 

 While ambling along the wall soaking in the views, a couple of fellows holler for me to come over and play a song for them.  Spaniards seem to really enjoy Mexican ranchero music--so I give it a shot... sure enough.  I soon have them all dancing...

Of course, I sure it helps that they’re all drinking...

I go on to explore the Melilla "favelas"--the crowded old neighborhoods along the steep hillsides... and then down to the market where Moroccans buy and sell second hand goods to haul down to their country... then to a very classy shopping district, a magnificent fountain and a couple of very stately parks...

It’s great to be able to enjoy a taste of Spain just a short walk from Morocco...

...Definitely a highlight of my tour...

 

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Melilla
photo by: leticiatra