Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cordoba Chillaxing

Cordoba, Spain

What a neat town!  I really tend to dig these old European towns.  There's so much character and charm. It's easy to see how Cordoba was selected as a World Heritage Site.  Walking through the narrow "streets" of white walled buildings just takes you backs a few hundred years or so, then around the corner there's an excavation of something Roman. The square where I'm currently having "lunch" occupies the site where a colessium once stood.  Too bad there's not still gladiators running amok. 

Plaza de la Corredera
Walking through the old town, you start imagine there's a distant melody of a Spanish guitar wafting through the streets.  Turns out, there's actually a street musician around the corner playing the perfect sound track for being lost. 

A little bit of tourism stuff, My hotel is right next to en Mezquita, with it's 930 AM bell ringing, I was aroused after a long night sleep.  The hotel was a great find.  Location and cleanliness for low price, and the added bonus of character.  The morning started with a walk to the river and the Punte Roman, an old roman bridge from way back, though restored and modernized.  I'm pretty sure the Romans didn't have the electrical wiring needed to light the bridge.  After that, a trip to the Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristiano, or castle of the Christian kings.  Today admission was "gratis" and I got to explore the old castle and gardens. Seems oranges are big thing here, as the place is lousy with orange trees

Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristiano

After the castle, a stop for coffee and breakfast right inside the old city walls.  Enter the narrow winding paths through white walled buildings.  A stop in the sinogoga, one of three surviving medieval synagogues in Spain, dating from the 14th century. 

Next was the Mezquita.  This Mosque was founded in 785 (and was built in top of a previous church that was razed by the Muslim occupiers) and has since been "recently" converted to a cathedral (in the 16th century). This place is huge and giantly impressive.  Words can't really do the place justice, so check out the pictures.

Inside the Mezquita

And that brings me to my current location.  I'll finish this snack and press on.. Well. For another cerveza. And a snack.  I feel like I eat constantly here, except its all small foods. So maybe that's healthier? 

Lunch, for example, was the tuna and potato salad sample with the beer, followed by a walk to a different bodega, this one specializing in Argentine foods.  So another beer and an empanada.  There was a couple hours in between those two snacks, as I swung by a former inn once occupied by Cervantes and referred to by Don Quixote as a "den of thieves".

After the obligatory visit to an Irish pub, dinner was tapas..  Small portions of beef in a sherry sauce, potatoes with a red sauce, and grilled shrimp and mushrooms on a skewer. Not a lot, but did the trick.  That was about I for the day.  Went walking but seemed the place was quiet for the night by 2300. Tomorrow it's off on another train ride to Algeciras for a couple days by the Med and hanging around a big rock.

Mornings in Madrid


After the long trip from Louisville, and since I had gotten some sleep in Cologne, I decided to go meander about Madrid for the morning.  After finally finding the airport express and stashing my bag at Atocha Station in town, I set off to see what I could see.  Armed with an one day tourist pass on the Metro, I started my trip at Plaza del Sol.  I was looking for a sign that Grace has memorialized on celluloid in her abodes for years.

Unfortunately it has been removed. 

Palacio Real
From there I walked down Calle Mayor and found a coffee shop to stop into for a caffeine jolt and wifi.  On down the road I came to the royal palace and Plaza de Oriente.  There's a rally neat, if pricy, cafe there.  I maybe just enjoy plush red velvet covered furniture.  But I dug it.  So I had another coffee while waiting for the Palaca to open.  Turns out, it didn't that day. I bet the flocks of Asian tourists were even more disheartened than I.  By lunch I was in the Plaza Mayor watching the crowds and street performers with a cerveza and tapas.  I also discovered there was a rather significant fĂștbol match in town that day between RealMadrid and Manchester United.  This is my second trip to Spain, and for the second time there was a big match in the city I was visiting (last time FC Barcelona vs Chelsea in a semifinals match).

Plaza Mayor
After lunch, back to Plaza del Sol and another cafe, complete with cerveza and wifi check in.  The the obligatory Irish Pub world tour stop for a Guinness.  My last item on the to do list before leaving town was a stop at the Hard Rock for a pin.  After locating the HRC, back to Atocha and off to Cordoba.  The high speed train (270 km/h) whisked me away, and it was all I could do not to nod off...  And more than I could do at times.  I had this giant fear of sleeping right through my stop.  But I do remember some lovely scenery out the window.

Arrived unscathed in Cordoba, and found my way to my hotel thanx to a helpful cab driver.  Found a nice bar to watch the fĂștbol and have a couple cervezas, which all came with snacks.  I like it.  By the time I got to sleep, it'd had be 24 hours of wakefulness.  Involving 3 cities in 2 countries.  I plan to make a return visit to Madrid when I can focus more on just that area, perhaps some one I know who's spent some time there will be happy to show me around :-).  Next day, to see Cordoba in earnest.
Cerveza and a snack??  Yes please!