It may come as a surprise to those that regularly read this site, or see all the wildlife images I share on social media, that portraiture and street photography excites me more. The issue on many trips with guides and limited time is that the opportunities to capture some candid portraits and to tell the story of a destination through its street culture are limited. Fortunately, the street life of Murcia, is an exception.
It wasn’t necessarily that during the recent trip to this region of Spain, on the Costa Cálida wasn’t a whistle stop tour, with a packed itinerary of highlights every day. However, the warm Mediterranean climate means that the people of the region remain active on the streets of the cities and towns, enjoying the weather, cuisine and good company.
The rich, wealth of street culture in Murcia, means that even if time isn’t exactly abundant there are still plenty of opportunities to experience and photograph it. From the outdoor roman museum which is Cartagena, through modern, yet attractive Murcia to the attractive, narrow streets which climb through Caravaca, it’s a colourful and photogenic culture.
Read more about Costa Cálida: Costa Cálida; Surprising Gem of the Mediterranean
Café culture is unsurprisingly evident everywhere, especially as there is the additional temptation of combining it with some tasty tapas at one of the many bars and restaurants offering this typically Spanish fare.
Sitting on bar stools outside small kiosk style bars or cafés, or possibly standing if just looking for a short, sharp shot of caffeine. Later in the day beer bottles or wine glasses begin to build up on the small tables, along with empty plates as extended lunches are drawing to a close.
Pretty harbours and coastal paths, such as those found at Cabos De Palos or Puerto De Águilas find locals and visitors alike making the most of the temperate weather. Fishermen in wellington boots, runners or cyclists clad in figure hugging lycra, hikers in heavy boots or sandals, while many just sit and chill on folding chairs beside their motorhomes, all out to enjoy some sunshine by the beach.
Find out more about Águilas: Postcards from Águilas, Murcia
Immaculately dressed locals stroll through tree lined, central boulevards in Murcia, possibly rushing to meet loved ones, make the next business appointment or just enjoying their day.
As a hardy resident of northern England, it was slightly amusing to see people wrapped up in thick, warm coats, woollen scarves and hats against a cold which was surely imaginary. The sun shone, almost every day and at times, even early in the morning or evening the temperature was nearly twenty degrees, it was short sleeve weather!
Street life in Murcia
It was late November, however, street performers still set up stall on street corners or busy thoroughfares, playing a variety of musical instruments and preparing to even sing for their dinner. I’m a huge fan of those skilled and brave enough to take their talent onto the streets to entertain the public, which may only leave them a few coins or possibly even nothing. They improve the streets, they make them more vibrant, more colourful, they deserve our support and it was great seeing guitar, violin and accordion being played daily around this region of Spain.
More photography from Murcia: Flamingos in the Land of Flamenco
Vendors with small stalls sell goods from their roadside cabins, several more group together in town squares forming small outdoor markets. Along with larger, covered markets they are natural places for people to congregate, meeting places, where friends come to share a few beers and a bite to eat or probably the business of the town gets done.
A Culture of Tapas
Gastronomy is a major part of Spanish culture and tapas plays a large part of everyday life. We enjoyed our share of these small, bitesize dishes, but my favourite eating experience occurred in the market of Murcia on the final afternoon. In the entrance to the market there is a small stall, which has a simple but very cool concept; shoppers purchase their fresh fish, seafood, meat or vegetables and the stall holder cooks it, for a small price. He also sells them a beer or glass of wine, it’s a win-win and was a cool stop off before leaving for the airport.
There always seems to be plenty going on in the streets of the cities, towns and villages, with a lively photogenic street culture. The people don’t appear to be as rushed as in larger cities, they seem to have more time to relax, chat and engage with one another.
Culture is a big draw for many tourists, but it comes in a variety of forms. The street life in Murcia is vibrant and yet it appears built on relaxation, enjoying social contact and the temperate climate. It is an appealing side of the cultural identity of the region, which needs to be savoured along with the tasty bites and excellent wines which usually accompany it.
This is cultural immersion which needs time to be fully appreciated….. just don’t forget some friends!