Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hello Córdoba!

...tidbit in Cordoba...

For Day 3, Day 4 and previous days click here
Day 5 (Monday) – leave for day in Córdoba, then off to Sevilla

Seven in the morning rolls around quickly, especially after eating dinner so late in the evening. We luckily had no problem getting up and walking a block and a half to meet up with our tour group. I was very curious to see who we’d be travelling with for the next couple of days. We entered into the office and to my surprise there were people of all ages there (some retired couples, some children, some thirty-somethings) It was a very broad mix of people and some were from Mexico, some from Panama, the US, Italy, Brazil, it was a nice mix of people and languages. After getting on the bus, our tour guide told us what the itinerary would be that day…. a five hour bus ride, with a “technical” break (meaning pit stop for the bathroom) and a lunch stop. After which, we would be in beautiful Córdoba. Along the way we would see the land that inspired one of Spain’s most beloved books, “Don Quijote” the man of “La Mancha” (the land between Madrid and Andalucía). It was a very scenic drive. There were lots of open space and fields, vineyards and as we got closer to Andalucía, we would see more and more olive trees. These trees were amazing. They were all in rows that blanketed the hillsides in perfect unison. The grapes, mostly tempranillo, were low to the ground, like little shrubs. Every now and again we would pass other national treasures, like the big signs on the side of the road that are bulls. These bulls are littered throughout Spain and you can see them a mile away, they are so big.
We were half way to Córdoba when we stopped for lunch… Probably should forget about this stop. Not that anything was awful, but the food, was mediocre and didn’t really give Nic any inspiration about Spanish cuisine. We had a soup to start with that had chickpeas and chicken. It may have been an attempt at “Cocido Madrileño”, as Nic’s dad was sure about, but I wasn’t convinced. I’ve had cocido before which is a lovely stew rich with garbanzo beans, meat and vegetables simmered all day. The soup in front of me was a soup, not a stew. It was rather tasty; it just lacked a little salt. Then, we had a plate of cured meats. Spain is renowned for their cured meats and these were very tasty slices. For our main course, it was time for a fish with some veggies. Under seasoned and lacking some flavor, I made it through the fish, but gave up on the veggies. I definitely could forget this dish. Then they brought around a basket of fruit for dessert. Nic and I headed up to the bar to get a cortado. We needed to end the meal on a nice note, then, back to the bus.

We pulled into Córdoba, and headed directly to one of the most visited Cathedrals in Spain, “La Mezquita”. This is one of those instances where religious invaders change the place of worship to meet their own needs. It originally was a Visigoth church, but when the Muslims invaded, they partitioned off part of it and started building one of the biggest mosques in the world. Then, when the Muslims were pushed out of Spain, the Christians did some remodeling. They put a cathedral right in the middle of the mosque. Now, it is a Cathedral, with all the beautiful and intricate designs of a mosque. There is no wonder why this spot is visited by so many people. It is an amazing piece of architecture with a story behind every stone. Truly amazing!

After the “Mezquita” we walked around the Jewish section of the city, with its narrow streets and white washed buildings. This section of the city is very tight and you can get lost at the turn of a corner. We spent some time roaming before we ended up back where we started.

Then, it was back to the bus. We had a nice little ride to Sevilla, where we got to our hotels in time to relax a little before it was dinner time. Dinner tonight was a buffet. There was some paella, some cured meats, some chicken, salad and other dishes that were good. After dinner, we walked around Sevilla at night. It was a nice stroll. We went past some beautiful plazas and made our way to the Plaza Nueva and the cathedral, before we started our way back to the hotel.

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