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Espagne, Olé! Ancient to modern, through Andalucia, Toledo and Madrid

Espagne, Olé! Ancient to modern, through Andalucia, Toledo and Madrid

Jun 1st, 2015, 02:09 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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So does Pastora Galvan, he's her husband ;-)

Here are the two together on Andalucian TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2SBUcrJgeQ

Glad you had some great and very divesre flamenco experiences, and the processions can also catch you quite off guard...
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Jun 1st, 2015, 02:31 AM
  #42  
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Thanks, kimhe, good to know about Pastora Galvan and Cristian Guerrero - both are terrfic.

Just wondering if I'm boring anyone or going on too long here -- anyone else out there still reading, let me know!
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Jun 1st, 2015, 02:51 AM
  #43  
 
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Enjoying. Seville sounds fabulous.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:08 AM
  #44  
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Glad you're enjoying! Seville is fabulous and I'd go back today if I could!
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:26 AM
  #45  
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Sunday, May 10/and so we leave Seville and move on to Cordoba....

Leaving Seville was hard. The city cast its spell and it just felt right being there. We both felt that we could live here easily. I was also second-guessing myself over the decision to stay 3 nights in Cordoba, given some of the negative sentiments I was reading on the boards. One person called it a “dreary little town” and that stuck with me as we were about to leave Seville, the polar opposite of this description.

A few words about the planning of this trip: one of the reasons for going when we did was to take advantage of the Patio festival in Cordoba, which takes place in early to mid-May. At the time I bought the airline tickets, the actual dates were not yet announced (I don’t think they’re made official until the beginning of the year). I had also read that the lines to get into the various patios were much longer on the weekend, so I wanted to make sure that most of our time spent there was during the week. While the typical Andalucia itinerary starts in Cordoba and then goes to Seville, I reversed it to avoid the patio-going crowds on the weekend. As it turned out, we did most of our patio touring on the Sunday we arrived, so this degree of planning was really unnecessary!

Getting up and packing up was smooth and, since it was Sunday morning, we found yet another bar for our cafe con leche. After coffee, we got our luggage and walked to the taxi stand, and arrived early at the Sevilla Santa Justa station, with a 1+ hour wait for the train. A mere 45 minutes later, and we are in Cordoba!

The cab took us to Angel de Saavedra, where we met Tomas, our AirBnB host. The apartment is delightful, and in a very central location, with great a/c (a necessity as the weather has gotten very hot) and a fabulous patio with a great view, and a large, working umbrella, making it possible to sit outside even during the hot weather. It’s in a gated complex, so once inside, you are very away from the hustle of the crowds, yet still very much in the center of everything. Tomas is a pleasure -- very animated, knowledgeable about tourism in general as he has studied and works in hotel/hospitality and we spent quite a while talking. He made a fair amount of recommendations for restaurants and activities, too. And there were plenty of brochures in the apartment to sift through, in case we needed any more ideas.

There was a clothes washer that we took full advantage of! We were provided with a foldout dryer, and in the heat and sun, things dried very quickly. From my experience, apartments have washers but not machine dryers, but folding dryers are provided. Compared to American washers, wash cycles are much longer.

And we made our own coffee using the moka pot provided. This let us sit in and luxuriate on our patio. Though the weather was hot during the day, it was quite cool in the morning, even needing sweaters when we got up. The evenings, too, were pleasant and cool, and we took full advantage of the gorgeous view and sat on our patio to soak it in as often as we could. I can’t highly recommend this place enough!

AirBnB apt/Penthouse Terrace Cordoba’s Mosque
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/648573

to be continued.....
progol is offline  
Jun 1st, 2015, 03:30 AM
  #46  
 
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Fantastic report, I'm enjoying it immensely. It makes me want to go to Seville next fall or winter (mabye January or February 2016, it seems to be a good place to visit in winter).
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:31 AM
  #47  
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Thanks, Keren - go whenever you can!

I'm off to work now and will work on this later...
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Jun 1st, 2015, 05:05 AM
  #48  
 
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Wonderful, looking forward to your impressions of Cordoba....
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Jun 1st, 2015, 06:19 AM
  #49  
 
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I'm still reading, and enjoying your telling of the journey.

We also saw a procession in Seville, followed it for some time, then popped into a bar where the owner gave us a book outlining all the details. Unfortunately, all in Spanish, so none the wiser, but I reckon you're right about it being a saint day.

The apartment in Córdoba looks fantastic !

Carry on....
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Jun 1st, 2015, 08:50 AM
  #50  
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Glad to know that folks are still reading! The apartment was fantastic and my favorite place of our stay.

More about Cordoba later today....promise!
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Jun 1st, 2015, 09:26 AM
  #51  
 
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Looking forward to the Cordoba report. We too are planning more time there than is usually recommended, so please be brutally honest, dreary town or not.
Nelson is online now  
Jun 1st, 2015, 09:29 AM
  #52  
 
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I'm reading, I'm reading! Pleae keep going.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:33 PM
  #53  
 
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I am very curious about your experience in Cordoba, too. So much commentary that it is only 'worth' a day trip, yet photos imply an interesting small city with a well maintained historical centre, perfect for slow meandering. I thought if I went I'd allocate 3 nights too.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:36 PM
  #54  
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Cordoba is definitely more than just a day trip, IMO and definitely warrants a couple of days to explore it. Before I go on more about my impressions, though, I'd like to return to the report format, to give an idea as to what we did and saw. Working on that now!
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Jun 1st, 2015, 04:23 PM
  #55  
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So our Cordoba exploration begins…..

After finishing up all the apartment business with Tomas, we were starving , so had a few tapas at the bar next to our apt -- not memorable, but food was needed, and we were introduced to a new food that quickly became a favorite: salmorejo. This is very similar to gazpacho, only thickened with bread, and usually topped with bits of egg or ham. Delicious!

We then strolled down past the Mezquita to locate it -- a short walk from our apartment! Interesting to walk around the building, seeing the Moorish arches as well as the cathedral elements. We then took a walk across the Roman Bridge – it’s a beautiful late afternoon, and very busy with tourists. The bridge has a 16th century gate on one side and a defensive tower on the other end, much of it restored. It is a good reminder of the many, many layers of history here!

After our walk across the bridge, M. suggested that we view the patios. Although I reminded him that my plan had been to go during the week, he thought, ‘we’re here, why not?’ so we went to the little area in the southwest of Cordoba which Tomas had said was the best place to view them. This is Barrio San Basilio, or Alcazar Viejo, an interesting neighborhood that is outside of the city walls. It was begun in the 13th century and has a unified look, all whitewashed buildings that run along 3 parallel streets. Many of the houses participated in the patio festival competition. There were lines to enter, although none took too long, and we were able to enter people’s patios to see their flower arrangements. After seeing 4 or 5 patios, we saw enough and got the general idea of what the festival was about. It was fun to enter the private patios, but unless you are truly into gardens and floral arrangements, a few hours is more than enough. Of course, my plan had been to do them on Monday, but we ended up doing them on Sunday and at the most crowded time after all!

We ate dinner at Taberna La Viuda, a traditional-style restaurant, and had a good, if not outstanding meal. The first 2 dishes were gazpacho and croquettes, and they were good; then a stuffed pepper with meat that was quite good, but the surprise dish was the fried eggplant with honey. More like fries but so tasty!

After that we wandered through the Juderia and returned to the apartment.
Day 1 in Cordoba is done!
progol is offline  
Jun 1st, 2015, 04:40 PM
  #56  
 
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Aha! Sounds like Cordoba is in fact fascinating, at least for the kinds of things we like. And Kimhe has always loved the city, so that's enough for me. Eagerly awaiting more....
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Jun 1st, 2015, 05:18 PM
  #57  
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Monday, May 11 – Moved by the Moorish Mezquita and more
We woke up early to take advantage of the free admission to the Mezquita at 8:30am. Nothing prepared us for this amazing sight! Walking in and taking in the graceful, handsome yet surprisingly delicate arches with the red stripes was overwhelming – for the hour or so that we walked around the space, we were mesmerized by the beauty, trying to absorb it. And it was quiet as there are no crowds (no groups!) Just remarkable.

After that, back to the apt for a little while, had some more coffee on our patio. Having seen the patios the evening before, and the Mezquita this morning, I was a little bit unsettled to figure out how to organize our time. Eventually we went out, first to the Plaza des Tendillas, a large plaza and the commercial hub, where the Tourist Information kiosk is. Interestingly, there is very little English here. We were surprised, but in fact, Tomas had mentioned that Cordoba was still developing its tourist infrastructure.

I had read that there was an old “Mercado” and we followed our (tiny!) map up and down hills to a very nontouristy part of town. We passed through the Plaza de la Corredera, a square with a uniform red buildings and some tapas stalls set up; then passing a small Roman Temple (remains & restoration). We finally found the Mercado, which turned out to be just a collection of a few junk stands, but it brought us to a non-touristy part of town. Interesting but not a highlight!

From there, we wandered up toward the Palacio de la Marqueses de Viana, a 15th C. renaissance palace, with 12 elaborately designed patios in the house and a collection of art and other objects. It is a lovely building, although by now, we were getting hot and tired – and the temps were getting higher and higher (around 36-38C by now).

We then stopped in the Jardines de la Merced, a pleasant enough park space, where we sat and recouped for a little while and headed over to the Plaza de San Miguel, eating at Taberna San Miguel. We had a lunch of 2 media items, fried boquerones and sausage, water and beer. Good meal, though a bit rich. The subtitle for this trip is, “The trip of foods I never eat!"

On the way back to the apartment, we stopped in the supermarket for some milk and pastries. Making a decision about milk was difficult! We couldn't figure out which carton was the best, and interestingly, milk is not sold in the refrigeration area.

After a rest, we went out in to the Sephardic museum around 5:00ish – it is a small museum, with limited exhibits on display, but there is a lot of writing that made us aware and think more about the Inquisitions. Very thought-provoking.

After the museum, we had a lovely stop at the Salon de The, a charming Arabic tea salon. Michael had amoretto granita and I had a pistachio batido, and a dish of hummus that was nice. The drinks were sensational and the café was a wonderful place to chill out. A highlight.

We then walked again to the outside the Almodovar gate and along the walls,
walking up to the Victoria Market, a collection of food stalls that looked appealing, if a little overpriced. In the park, we also saw 2 Roman mausoleums! We also got a sense of the life outside the historical city, where Cordovans live. After that, we walked across one of streets leading to the plaza de los Tendillas, stopping to withdraw some cash.

Back again to the apartment, going for a stroll down on the Roman bridge and then dinner at Casa Mazal, a sephardic-style restaurant. It is quite popular and they were able to squeeze us in to a table on the 2nd floor overlooking the patio! Lovely! We ordered far too much, considering how much we had been eating over the course of the day, and it was quite late (for us). We had felafel, salmorejo de esparragos friar verde, and lamb couscous. By far, the standout was the salmorejo, a puréed cold asparagus soup made with breadcrumbs for thickening. The meal was good, not stellar, but the place was fun. We ate late and then waddled home.

I fell asleep easily, but woke up to M. struggling for breath. He had apparently gotten sick during the night and almost choked. It was scary and made me realize the necessity of having some way of communicating with some emergency service when staying in an apartment. Fortunately, he was okay, but it was a good but scary lesson.
progol is offline  
Jun 1st, 2015, 09:49 PM
  #58  
 
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I'm still reading too! Please continue.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2015, 02:51 AM
  #59  
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Good to know! I do appreciate hearing that there are still people reading! Working on the next day, and will post as soon as I can.

Paule
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 08:25 AM
  #60  
 
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Hi-we were there in May too. Alot of the processions are for First Holy Communions.
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