|Renfe train station Malaga|
After 3 nights in Malaga we took the high speed non-stop Renfe Ave train to Cordoba which took 50 minutes and I have to say was a very clean comfortable way to travel. If you have your train tickets you only need to arrive 20-30 minutes ahead to clear security and get to your boarding platform. Again, we packed the lightest on this trip that we have ever packed and after seeing that we can easily survive 10 days without as much luggage as we normally take we will be packing light from here on out. I enjoy train travel far more than air travel based on how easy it is and no checking in 2-3 hours in advance. The only drawback to Renfe is that their online booking system is difficult to book on when outside of Spain as they only take certain credit cards and it doesn't always work. After first trying to book tickets there I chose to book instead through Rail Europe (raileurope.ca/raileurope.com in Canada and the USA) and pay a very small handling fee. You can only book tickets 60-90 days out and have an immediate email confirmation and printable e tickets with assigned carriage and seat number. We chose economy on all trains and it is very comfortable, no need to upgrade to first class.
After a 3 Euro cab ride to our hotel (plus 1 euro per bag) we realized we were smack in the centre of Medievel old town. Although Cordoba has a population of 350,000 the tourist core is the old town which has narrow little streets that on most of them do not fit cars. It is an extremely walkable area and was our favorite city on this trip.
|Roman bridge to the old part of Cordoba (was seen in season 5 of Game of Thrones)|
The main attraction that everyone comes to see in Cordoba is the Mezquita (click for more history). This structure has acted as a mosque, a christian Visigoth temple and now is a Catholic Cathedral. While the religions haven't gotten along fortunately they did not tear down the mosque part of the structure and what remains is an incredibly beautiful mosque/cathedral. This is ground zero for hundreds of busloads of tourists who arrive around 10 am and leave around 3pm which is the way most people see Cordoba. I am so glad we decided to spend more time there as Cordoba is so much more than that.
|Islamic part of Mezquita|
|Catholic part of Mezquita|
Cordoba is orange tree central, everywhere you look oranges and orange blossoms dropping. No one dies of scurvy in Cordoba. It smelled fabulous and the bees were very happy.
We also visited the Alcazar De Los Reyes Cristianos which housed Isabella and Ferdinand, was headquarters at one time for the Spanish Inquisition and even in 1810 served as a garrison for Napoleon's troops. It ended up being a prison until that was closed and it was reopened/excavated for tourism purposes. So much history in one building.
|Alcazar De Los Reyes Cristianos|
|Pools and gardens of Alcazar De Los Reyes Cristianos|
|Waterwheel that brought water to Alcazar De Los Reyes Cristianos|
We booked a very reasonably priced hotel right near the Mezquita which if I had to do it over would have booked a few blocks further away due to the busloads of tourists being deposited there hourly. It was still very neat - one of the juliet balconies you see in the upper left of the photo below was our hotel room window.
Our final day in Cordoba was spent touring something that most who come to Cordoba don't visit, the archaeological ruins of Madinat Al-Zahara which are located 8 km from the city. There is a bus that is taken that stops right outside one of the walled gates of the old town and we took that to the site. We booked a shared tour through Viator (Cordoba Segway was the tour operator), and in the end were the only two English speaking people on the tour so for $35 CAD each had a 2 hour private tour! We met a great 30 year old guide named Raphael who really helped paint a picture of life in this lost city. It was only rediscovered under fields in 1910 and they have been excavating portions/reassembling the city ever since. After the tour we went back to their museum and watched a short film on what life would have looked like in this city. Apparently this is one of the largest archaeological sites in all of Europe.
I am not sure how I got to age 46 without ever having tried Sangria but I have to say I am now hooked. I also tried albondigas(meatballs) which turned out to be my very favorite Spanish food. This particular restaurant, Bodega Mezquita had the best food we ate in all of Spain. They did their meatballs in a saffron almond sauce and they were to die for. I hope to recreate them at home soon. Spain is all about the cod (bacalau) and ham but we tried a lot of other things too.
After Cordoba we again took the Renfe Ave high speed train to Madrid for 3 days which I will blog about in my next post.
All the laundry has been done, part of the house cleaned, business caught up on and yesterday I even weeded for 2 hours to get my flowerbeds ready to plant. I am behind, usually have it done by now but hopefully all will be done by this weekend. I have also listed some items on our 24 hour Facebook bidding site as it seems Mom's condo is not having a garage sale this year and I had some items to shift. All the proceeds are going to our Ucluelet/Tofino weekend away which is happening in early June for hubby's 54th birthday, yes, more travel to look forward to!