Jalón Rastro- A perfect way to spend a Saturday morning..
The famous Jalón "Rastro" or flea market, attracts locals and tourists alike. It is set up every Saturday along the banks of the River Gorgos. Although the river bed is usually dry, it is an idyllic stroll of about 1km from start to finish. It opens around 10am and closes around 2pm. Haggling is encouraged although prices are not always negotiable.
The Rastro was established almost 30 years ago by Monika Buchholz from Essen, in Germany. A pet portrait painter looking for a place to sell her artwork. Together with other local tradespeople the first market was set up, it had only 14 stalls. Today, there are normally, more than 250 stalls selling a vast variety of goods.
The First traders quickly realised the enormous selling potential and the Rastro has grown in size every year. It is 10 euros for a pitch and you can enquire at the town hall for availability. Lots of the traders are foreigners and for some, it is their livelihood, with a lot of them reserving the same pitch every week.
What can you buy?
Furniture and antiques- For those with a keen eye there are some gems. From ornate mirrors to war memorabilia.
Artwork- original art and sculpture as well as some cheaper prints in frames.
Clothing and footwear- Vintage and new. Some real bargains to be found.
Artisan foods- marinated olives and salt cod as well as embutidos (cured sausage) and other local specialities.
Cakes and sweets- sweet treats to tempt all the family.
Kitchenware and pottery- Beautifully hand crafted and painted.
Leather goods- Bags, briefcases and belts to suit every price tag.
Jewelry- Beautiful antique and new, unique handmade pieces.
Minerals and fossils.
Pet food and accessories.
Gifts and souvenirs- From flamenco dresses to fridge magnets.
There are also always miscellaneous stalls selling novelty items. I once bought a solar cigarette lighter, the trader was sold out within an hour!
How the Covid-19 pandemic affected the Rastro.
This year is the first year the Rastro has seen a scaling down. The Covid-19 pandemic and the State of Emergency meant that the market could not set up its wares from mid March until 6th June. It is open again but in a limited capacity. So priority has been given to antiques and artwork, although this week once again I spotted the brilliantly coloured flamenco dresses and hand painted ceramics. There are rules on social distancing and face masks are obligatory.
It is a joy to amble around the stalls. Bargains are only to be found by those who have patience and nowhere to be in a hurry. I recommend starting early, walk it once, get some ideas, stop and buy churros at the churrería (a van that sells sugar coated treats that taste like doughnuts) and then go round and make your purchases.
Afterwards go to one of the cafés nearby for a late breakfast or lunch. Opposite the market there is a fabulous choice of eateries. Bar Aleluya serves excellent tapas, Dockers Hangout for burgers and great fast food, Tia Sara´s for Belgian frites and artisan ice cream, Casa Claudia for a very reasonable menu del día (and a great English breakfast) and Mi Gusto is a lovely Belgian tearoom with delicious pastries and a cozy atmosphere.
If you still have time to spare, visit "Bodegas Jalon" and sample locally produced wine and cava, and browse the great selection of spirits, liqueurs, olive oil and honey. They also offer guided tours of the winery, fascinating around harvest time.
There is something wonderful about spending the day wandering around a flea market. Make a day of it, you won't be disappointed!