When we come to Spain, we like to live “like the natives,” and avoid at least some of the most touristy things. Today I decided I really wanted to do one of the most touristy things possible. Segway!
I did this solo, because I couldn’t talk Mary into it. She’s never completely forgiven me for the Costa Rica ziplining experience, so I guess I understand her reluctance. I arrived at the tour office at 10 am to discover that I was the only one signed up. That was no problem, however, as my guide simply said it was now a private tour, just the two of us.
After fitting my helmet, I got a very short, maybe 1-2 minute verbal tutorial on how to mount and ride the beast. It took a little practice to realize the trick is to relax and use body language more than arms and hands for control.
Very soon, I felt comfortable enough to handle the occasional detour around pedestrians and excursions into the street where traffic flowed with and around us. (I will note here that I seriously doubt if all this would be possible in the USA without a thick legal release form, and even then, lawsuits would surely follow any mishap. Here, there is still such a thing as “personal responsibility,” and lawyers and insurance companies don’t decide what you can and cannot do.)
My guide spoke very good English, and when I asked where he studied, he replied that he learned the language in high school. I don’t think many people are able to get to his level with high school classes, so I guess he just has the knack.
The tour included many of the sights I’d already seen, so I asked him to focus more on details, stories and legends that I might not have already heard. Here are a couple of tales from the large Corredera Plaza that I’ve written about previously.
Most of the buildings are exactly like the picture, but there are two exceptions. This is the old city hall building.
It’s now the home of a market on the first floor, and the public library on the second.
This is the other exceptional building.
The story goes that the second building was owned by a wealthy local lady, Doña Jacinta. When the square was remodeled to its present form her property was scheduled to be demolished. She brought legal suit against the king and managed to win, allowing the property to remain as is. To me, this story seems suspect. Who actually wins a lawsuit against a king?
My guide told an alternate version. In his telling, the building was actually a bordello, and the owner lady threatened to reveal the client list. It was possible (likely?) that the list might embarrass some of those in the city hall right next door, so it seemed more prudent to leave her building standing.
As is usual with these stories, there’s no proof, so I’ll leave you to decide which to believe.
Fernando told me one other very interesting thing about the plaza. On one end, there is an entrance to a narrow street.
Here’s the street’s name.
I looked for the word “toril” at spanishdict.com, and found that it means “bullpen.” There was also an amusing example of its use.
Usted ha sido un torero cauto; yo seré un toro cauto y me quedaré en mi toril.”
“You have been a cautious matador; I will be a cautious bull and I will remain in my enclosure.
My guide explained that when the plaza was a bullring, this street used to be the passageway for the bulls to enter the ring. We’re very familiar with this street, because it’s the shortest way to the plaza from our apartment, plus it passes by the fruit and vegetable market we use, as well as our favorite place to have an American style IPA. That would be La Trapperia.
Here you can get a pretty decent, locally made IPA for cheap, 2.50 euro, and there’s a good chance the brewmaster will be there to enjoy one with you. After having a couple pints to celebrate returning safely from the Segway excursion, I started looking over the day’s pictures, and noticed something right out of the X-Files.
Do you see what I see? I swear, I didn’t doctor this picture in any way. That really is a UFO!
You just never know what cool stuff you’ll discover on a tour (or afterwards over an ale).