Tuesday we were off on an out of town adventure - we took the bus from Granada to Cordoba, about 2 hours away. Thankfully my very very rusty Spanish was enough to navigate taxis & bus stations as we really met very few people who spoke any English at all. For as many tourists around this area I was a little surprised no one spoke any English.
Along the route we drove by at least two Moorish fortresses (and of course, one of them had an attached cathedral) on the tops of hills which dominated the landscape. It was fun to see them all lit up on the way back.
View from the bus of the Fortaleza de la Mota in Alcala la Real
We arrived in Cordoba around 1pm and proceeded to la Mezquita, the 8th Century Mosque in which Charles V carved out the middle in the 16th Century to build a huge cathedral amidst the sea of columns. The collision of styles and cultures was fascinating. It is impressive how many Moorish design and architectural elements still remain, but too bad that so many didn't survive. Now officially a cathedral, it is hard not to see this building as a mosque first and a Christian cathedral second. It was very quiet and few tourists were there so we were able to take our time and enjoy many picture-taking opportunities. We both love Moorish architecture so this building was quite a treat.
The cornices and arches of the Mezquita
The sea of columns, reused from Roman temples
We walked about the center of town a little till the Alcazar (de los Reyes Cristianos) re-opened in the afternoon. It is the fortified palace built in 1328 which was used by the Inquisition for more than 300 years and a prison till the 1950s. The tranquil gardens and large modern hall with exquisitely restored Roman mosaics don't divulge its tumultuous past.
View of the Alcazar from the tower
The gardens looking toward the Alcazar in Cordoba
After a long day we were weary and the entirely full bus was not exactly the thing we wanted, but what can you do. It wouldn't have been so bad except the woman directly to my right across the isle ate, non-stop for over an hour, a full bag of popcorn, with her mouth fully open! Argh! Sigh....... again, what 'cha gonna do.
Our last day we decided to sleep in, and sleep in we did - we both woke around noon! Another night of about 11 hours of sleep -pure bliss!! By the time we were out of the hotel and to food it was already lunch time, even by Spanish standards, so we grabbed a quick pizza, found the post office, walk about a bit and happened to stumble upon the Monastery of St. Jerome. As our tour book said, the very austere exterior does not divulge the over-the-top interior. The main church look like someone was a little OCD with the Baroque and didn't know when to stop. While grandiose, it was all a bit loud, as if someone was screaming Baroque at you.
The VERY Baroque interior of St. Jerome's
We ended the day with a visit to the archaeology museum which was just down the street from our hotel. It was a nicely done little display exhibited in a Renaissance building.
The last food hurrah was back at the restaurant from Monday night and the same delicious Paella. Even eating at 7:30pm we were the first ones in the restaurant followed about 30 minutes later by some German tourists and British tourists. It wasn't until about 9pm the place started to have some locals come in....my questions is, what do people do till 9pm when they have dinner! :)
I am now inspired to seek out some great Paella recipes and give it a go - but I think it will have to wait a few weeks! :)