MaiTaiTom's "Insane For Spain" - 2015

Old Sep 5th, 2015, 06:49 PM
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Incredible Alcazar shots.
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 02:13 PM
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"Incredible Alcazar shots."

Thanks from all of lends itself to good photographs to be sure.

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Old Sep 10th, 2015, 02:52 PM
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Our last day in Sevilla wasn’t quite as brutal on the feet as the day before, but the heat index made it tough going…however I believe that is why beer was invented. We toured an old palace and gardens, a couple of churches, a beautiful art gallery (where I lost my head), and all four of us ended the day by dining in the bath…together. Yes, we were determined to make a clean getaway to Cordoba.

Day Twelve: Don’t Pan Pan, Pilatos Not Pilates, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, One More Church, Bellas Fellas, Losing My Head, We Finally Get To Try This Restaurant, I Will Not Be Doing The Macarena, Archeological Dining And Where’s Tom Cruise And Madonna

For some reason everyone was up fairly early (perhaps one of us was making extra noise to help roust the crew). By 9:15 we had found Pan y Più (Calle Cabeza del Rey Don Pedro, 15), a delicious bakery near our apartment.

Fortified by savory and sweet pastries and bread, we headed to our first stop of the morning...Casa de Pilatos. This palace dates all the way back from the late 15th century (it was home of the founders of the Enriquez de Ribera dynasty), and members of the Medinaceli family call it home today.

Admission was €8.50, which included a guided tour of the upper floors and an audio tour of the lower floor and sumptuous gardens.

The staircase to the upper floor has beautiful tile. It’s called “Sevilla’s first and most magnificent staircase.”

Upstairs, we toured the rooms (no photography allowed upstairs) and learned some history of the family.

The rooms were beautiful. The salon photo above and the ceiling of the Pacheco room below are both from the internet.

From the second floor balcony, we looked down upon the Main Courtyard designed in the Mudejar style. There are plenty of antique statues. One, from the 1500s, depicts Marcus Aurelius’ wife Faustina Minor (I guess you could marry a Minor back then).

Antiques were the order of the day... the downstairs rooms, too.

I believe these next photos from Kim are from the Praetor’s Room, the largest and most beautiful of all the rooms downstairs. This room is named for Pilate’s Palace in Jerusalem.

The mosaics throughout the house were stunning
The Salón de Descanso de los Jueces (The Judges’ Resting Room) had a table with a giant gold bowling ball (without the holes) resting on it.

We caught a glimpse of the strikin ceiling in a ceremonial space known as Pilate’s Cabinet.

The time spent in the Flagellation Chapel was cut short because we were already whipped from the heat... much so, we took a brief respite before seeing the gardens.

Outside are two gardens. The Large Garden (The Palace of the Duke of Alcala) was once used as an orchard...

...and the “Small Garden,” that’s really not that small.

It was time to move on. Our next destination, the 18th century Iglesia de San José, had caught our interest. I asked Maapman Kim if he knew the way to San José, and he did. Burt Bacharach and Hal David couldn’t have done a better job.

The church is run by the Franciscan order, who I believe live about 45 miles north of San José. The church is quite dark inside.

The Captive Christ of Medinaceli is one of the figures most venerated by the Sevillian parish.

Being a smaller church, it was a quick visit before hitting another church, Iglesia Santa María Magdalena

Once again, it was a short stop on a hot day.

Now it was time to acquire a little culture (which is about all the culture we can handle) at the Museo de Bellas Artes, a former convent building that now houses a treasure trove of Spanish art.

The convent was constructed for the Order of the Merced Calzada de la Asunción in 1594 during Sevilla’s golden age of painting and ceramics. We paid the €1.50 entrance fee (free for those with an EU passport), which included an audio guide, and walked into the gorgeous interior courtyard.

I also really liked the color of the walls of the galleries, as they made the paintings stand out that much more.

Among the works we viewed were Pietro Torrigiano’s San Jerónimo Penitente from the 16th century. Goya was a great admirer of this statue.

We saw the 1629 painting, Virgen de las Cuevas (Virgin of the Misericordia Sheltering the Carthusians), by Francisco de Zurbaran and his...

...Saint Hugh in the refectory.

Other paintings I liked were La muerte del maestro by José Villegas...

...Pieter Aertsen’s Coronación de la Virgen...

... and Domingo Martinez’s Carro del Pregon de la Mascara.

We took a look at the head of St. John The Baptist.

The Assention of Holy Virgin sculpture by Juan de Oviedo el Mozo also made us stop to admire it.

Entering the giant hall of paintings, the room rivaled the paintings for beauty... did the ceiling....

But when Tracy took a picture of me in this room on her iPhone, my head had disappeared when we looked at the photo. I could understand if this had happened in the Washington Irving room at the Alhambra, but I was going out of my head trying to figure out how that happened.  After seeing the picture, I said. “Let’s beheading out of here.”

I highly recommend stopping by the Museo de Bellas Artes...but watch your head.

I don’t have a clue where we saw the 1934 Pena Calvillo Sevilla Horsemen Horses, but I liked it.

We walked by the Iglesia del Santo Ángel, which had the cool Retablo Cerámico de la Virgen del Carmen on the outside on the way back to our neighborhood for lunch.

Soon, however, we were momentarily enticed into the Confiteria la Campana, a famous Sevilla bakery and café. We thought about getting a yema (soft, crumbly biscuit cake wrapped like a toffee) or nata (custard cake), but instead pressed on toward a neighborhood restaurant recommended by Gary (of Spain Select). It had been packed each time we had walked by on previous days.

On the way, we took one last pass by the Metropol Parasol to see what it looked like in the daytime. Actually, I think we just wanted some shade.

We scored the last table (there are only eight) outside at Taberna Coloiniales (Plaza del Cristo de Burgos, 19). This place had tasty food and quick service, which was good since we were now melting. Mary ordered the winning dish...a special grilled veggie dish topped with a quail egg.

The beer tasted exceptionally good on this day.

We headed back to the apartment, and I had thoughts of going out on my own to see one last sight in Sevilla. However, once I sat down, I knew I would not have enough energy to do the Macarena...well the Basilica de la Macarena (la Macarena is the patron saint of bull).

I had wanted to see the famed Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Virgin Of Hope), but at this moment I only hoped our legs could get us to dinner. Sevilla had been a busy few days of walking around.

Fortunately, a couple of hours of down time rejuvenated the group, and we were back out on Sevilla’s streets heading toward dinner at Ristorante San Marco.

On our walk, we somehow passed up the ice cream, said hello to John Paul II, and our wives even stopped in a little store for some last minute Sevilla shopping.

Arriving at 8 p.m. at Ristorante San Marco, Calle Meson del Moro, 6 in the el barrio de Santa Cruz, we were seated in the bath. That’s because this restaurant is located in a 12th-century Arab bath, one of only two Arab baths remaining in Sevilla.

We were told that a lot of movie and music stars have dined here, including Madonna. So even though I had missed Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza at the Basilica de la Macarena, I told our group that should Madonna walk through the door, she’s “like a Virgin.” Kim immediately thought, “Thank God...only nine more nights.”

Tom Cruise has also been a guest at Ristorante San Marco, but I believed it would be risky business for another pun, which could render the rest of our travel mission...impossible.

We had been looking forward to dining on the Italian/Mediterranean cuisine offered at Ristorante San Marco, and this place lived up to the billing.

Mary and Kim shared a humungous salad that looked like a starship.

I loved my Harry’s Bar Carpaccio to start, followed by an Aglio y Olio and a stupendous crepe with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert.

Total bill for dinner and two bottles of wine barely exceeded €100, probably less than half of what this meal would cost in Los Angeles.

We took a slow stroll back through Sevilla on this warm night. Three nights seemed like the right amount of time to spend here.

On our walk back, Tracy said, “You know, we didn’t go to any flamenco.” I answered, “Well, we still have three cities left for that.”

The cathedral was lit up as we wandered back to the apartment. Tomorrow, we’d catch an early train to Cordoba where we would spend one day and night. Once again a jaw-dropping architectural marvel would have us saying “Wow!” We’d also hang out for a while on some people’s patios (you’d think one would offer me a GinTonic).

Next: Day Thirteen - The Train In Spain Is Really Not A Pain, Pillars Of Strength, Who Put This Cathedral In My Mosque, A Stable Environment, Flower Power, Pepe Power, My Biggest Fan, Hospital For The Water Fearers, A Quick Stop At Dominic, The Golden Arches, You’ll Fry On The Roof, A Familiar Wine, Bridge Work and Should We Hit The Flamenco Tonight
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Old Sep 10th, 2015, 04:46 PM
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SO happy I decided to check (as is my wont) tonight as it is 100 degrees and we are spoiled babies in SD who don't know what to do in the heat....
so, your last Seville day was the perfect antidote
I hadn't thought of Burt B in years, let alone your Madonna/Tom C. references : as always, we bow to your mind's machinations....
Now, we know where to eat : we'll have to see if Gary recommends same places.
we'll have one extra night, so Flamenco is planned and we'll have to find another restaurant...

Adding the Museo de Bella Artes to our list after reading your highlights!

please keep those Chapters coming!

we have 6 hours planned for Cordoba as a day trip from Seville.
thanks so much Maitai!!
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 04:37 AM
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Continue to follow and relive memories from our trip last year. We enjoyed Spain so much, we're heading back for part of our trip in just under 4 weeks.

We'll be heading to Madrid, Toledo and Segovia this trip as we couldn't fit them in and give them justice last trip. Looking forward to your reports on Toledo and Madrid!

And thank you for taking time to create these posts, both here and on your blog. It usually takes me months after a trip to get through my pictures, and often I don't get time to create a trip report. (I'm also not very witty either, so even if I did write a report, wouldn't be as interesting as yours - lol)

Great job!
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 08:10 AM
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"Adding the Museo de Bella Artes to our list ..."

€1.50 well spent. The building is as beautiful as the art. SD, of course if I have overrated any of these sights or restaurants, I disavow any knowledge of my actions. Although sweltering, we very much enjoyed Sevilla.

"we're heading back for part of our trip in just under 4 weeks."

I might even be done by then. Toledo was our favorite stop, and Madrid turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise (probably heading back at Christmas 2016...I'll look forward to your Segovia comments since we want to go there on that trip).

Now back to writing about our day in Cordoba...

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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 04:06 PM
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Continued bravos!
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 04:38 PM
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Will share our thoughts on Segovia for sure! Glad to hear you enjoyed Toledo. We will have 2 full days with 3 evenings there. I know a lot of people recommend Toledo as only a day trip from Madrid, but I'm sure we'll enjoy our visit.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 04:49 PM
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"Glad to hear you enjoyed Toledo. We will have 2 full days with 3 evenings there"

That was exactly what we did. I'll at least get to the Toledo part of this TR before you leave. Be sure to take the little tourist train. Try to take it late in the day and get a good view back to Toledo as the sun begins to set.

We really enjoyed the vibe of the city, and you'll get to see the famed altar at the cathedral (it was pretty much blocked from our view due to the town celebrating Corpus Christi, which up until our visit I only thought was some town in Texas).

I surprisingly really became interested in El Greco's work. His famous painting at the Santo Tomé church and his museum are well worth a visit.

Please email a giant GinTonic to me when you're there. Thanks for staying with me on this very long (or as Tracy says, "When are you going to finish this damned thing") trip report.

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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 11:16 AM
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Will let you know about our trip once we get back in November.

We may even have some tips for you for Madrid and Segovia

My patience is quite good, as I daily check for next chapters...
and I am glad Tracy is encouraging you to finish the TR, as we leave in a little more than a month and can't wait to plan our Cordoba and Toledo daytrips
SO appreciate all your efforts!!! I am sure I state the obvious , as all your loyal fans so enjoy your humor and terrific suggestions!

funny coincidence this morning in my gym class:
the teacher played "the Macarena" and NOW I knew the source of the song and the singers and shared in class!!! Had fun sharing this trivia with the group!
Hadn't heard this in years........
mas mas mas por favor!
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 11:26 AM
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Me too, me too...I leave in five weeks...still making notes. Just bought our tickets to the Seville Alcazar night tour. I know it isn't the same as the Alhambra but hopefully nice.
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 01:52 PM
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Me too, me too, me too!! Leaving in 4-1/2 weeks, doing Cordoba (hence my checking your TR every three hours), Granada, Sevilla, Toledo, Madrid. Waiting waiting waiting...patiently of course. Awesome report, thank you!
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 06:25 PM
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And, to add to your long list of patient fans, I leave in 3 weeks. I appreciate the time and creativity you pour into your incredible TRs, they are legendary. It takes time to create such a work of art. So, thank you!

I'm now excited about El Greco, after watching a few Khan Academy videos and articles on his works to get a better understanding of his style.
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 06:53 PM
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Seems like Spain is the place to go for Fodorites this fall.
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 08:38 PM
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Spain must indeed be a Fodorite Central node this fall. We are leaving in 3 weeks and hoping to see more of maitai's wonderfully fun reports before then, especially Cordoba and Toledo. Thanks for posting!

michele_d, if you are still interested they have released tickets for the one-hour night tour of the Cordoba Mosque / Cathedral. I think you wear a headset and go through at their scheduled pace as the show unfolds.

Not sure if you need to book in advance or not, but here is a link:

Tix are 18 Eu per adult, two shows per night, 8:00 and 9:30 PM. We are keeping it under consideration for the moment.
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 10:51 AM
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Looks like you have a lot of fans waiting - no pressure though - lol

Thanks for the extra tips for Toledo. Zocotren is on the list. Look forward to checking out El Greco works too and especially can't wait to visit the cathedral.

We will absolutely email you a gin and tonic! You deserve one (maybe even a few) after all the hard work you're doing on these reports.

For those heading to Sevilla and Cordoba in the next few weeks, I'm sure you will love both. We were there in the 3rd week of October last year. Great time to visit, even though the weather was a little hot for us (30 degrees Celsius/80's Fahrenheit). Can't complain too much though as we had beautiful sunny skies everyday.

"Just bought our tickets to the Seville Alcazar night tour. I know it isn't the same as the Alhambra but hopefully nice."

We haven't made it to Alhambra yet either but no regrets. Sights in Sevilla (Alcazar and Cathedral especially) and Cordoba are wonderful in their own right.
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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Thanks Nelson...I will check into it. We have two nights in Cordoba and the first night we are attending the horse show so this would be perfect for the second night.
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 06:42 AM
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Maitaitom - thanks for all the great pictures. Especially Seville. We had our anniversary dinner at San Marco with our daughter and sl. Bad picture on my profile. Seville is our favourite and Córdoba least favourite. Must go back to see Toledo. We didn't especially like Ronda but really happy to have seen it. The gorge is a scary amazing sight.
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 10:32 AM
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Casa de Pilatos = another WOW.

Did the maitaikim photo make it, Tom?
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 06:50 AM
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We only had one day in Córdoba, but we certainly made the most of it. After arriving by train from Sevilla, we hit the ground running and started at one of the world’s most incredible sights, the Mezquita de Córdoba/Catedral de Córdoba. Two religions formed one amazing place to visit. As the heat index once again rose, we’d hit some patios (Córdoba is famous for them) and lots of other sights in the city. Looking back, it was a busy 13 hours, but as I always say, “You can rest when you die!”

Day Thirteen - The Train In Spain Is Really Not A Pain, Pillars Of Strength, Who Put This Cathedral In My Mosque, A Stable Environment, Flower Power, Pepe Power, My Biggest Fan, Hospital For The Water Fearers, A Quick Stop At San Miguel, The Golden Arches, You’ll Fry On The Roof, A Familiar Wine, Bridge Work and Should We Hit The Flamenco Tonight

The kids were up early on this Friday morning thanks to one semi-OCD person....that would be moi. When it comes to trains and planes, I’m pretty much a freak when it comes to getting to the train station or airport early (most would say “too early”), and thankfully my traveling partners indulge me (somewhat willingly) in my obsession.

Gary from Spain Select (a company whose services we would use when our journey hits Madrid) met us at 7:30 for the transfer of the apartment keys and to make sure a taxi (€7) would be there on time to take us to the train station, where we would catch the 8:45 to Córdoba. The Sevilla train station is very easy to navigate. After grabbing coffee and pastries, we put our luggage through security and we were off on the short 40-minute ride to Córdoba.

I had booked our tickets online before we left on the Loco2 (Loco seemed like the perfect name for a maitaitom trip) website (it had been endorsed by the Man in Seat 61...good website for train travel in Europe). Loco2 provided great customer service via email when I had questions regarding times and cost. One thing to note, the prices quoted on that website are shown in pounds.

Grabbing a cab in Córdoba (€8), we were taken to our lodging for the night, Hotel Conde de Cárdenas (Conde de Cardenas 9). Since it was only 9:40, our room was not ready, but the very nice desk person said she would take the luggage and put them in our respective rooms when they were ready. It was time to explore Córdoba.

We walked through town until we came upon the reason most people visit Córdoba...flamenco. Not’s the Mezquita de Córdoba/Catedral de Córdoba. Just like Doublemint gum, “it’s two...two...two religions in one.”

Constructed between the 8th and 10th centuries (La Sagrada Familia eat your heart have a ways to go), the Mezquita (“mosque”) was once considered the “center of Western Islam.” It was actually founded in 785 by Abd ar-Rahman II, who I assume was known as the top Rahman.

First, we traversed El Patio de los Naranjos (The Courtyard of the Orange Trees). We hadn’t seen one of those in a couple of days.

While we contemplated the navel courtyard, we looked skyward to the huge bell tower (Torre de Alminar), which was built where the old minaret once stood.

After paying our €8 entrance fee, we walked through the Puerta de las Palmas (Door of the Palms) at a little past the 10 a.m. starting time. The four of us quickly became the pillars of society (more than 850 pillars were used to support the mosque).

These pillars alternate brick and stone. According to an Islamic architecture website: “Making arches by piling whitish stones and reddish brown bricks alternately produced a striped effect. Compared with the method using quarried stones entirely, it was much less laborious and expensive to combine them with bricks. And they didn't coat the surface of the bricks and left them natural, that might have been the intention to get a color effect.”

The pillars seemed to stretch from here to eternity...

...although Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr were nowhere in sight.

Arriving here early afforded us the opportunity to walk around without the mad crush of people that would flow through the doors a short time later.

Words or photos can’t really give you the full effect of walking around the Mezquita.

As we found out in so many Spanish venues, you have to see it to believe it.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Mezquita is the Mihrab (Prayer niche). It is stunning, as you can see.

The ceiling is amazingly carved from just one single block of marble. Looking at either side, the Byzantine mosaics of gold were mesmerizing.

Then, in an instant, we were transported to a completely different religious site. Walking through pillar after pillar (well, actually around them), we ran smack dab into a Renaissance Cathedral, which calls the center of the Mezquita its home. What’s a Christian cathedral doing in an Arab mosque setting like this?

In the 1200s, the Christians conquered Córdoba (the needed a scorecard to see who was conquering who back in the day...before the Mezquita and the Islamic conquest, it was a Catholic church dedicated to St. Vincent). I read that while the Muslims were saying their final prayers at the Mezquita during the Reconquista, the Christians constructed an altar and celebrated their first mass.

Not stopping at just an altar or small place of worship, a couple of centuries later, with the support of Charles V, the Christians built this huge cathedral where we were now standing.

It was pretty spectacular. It’s good to be the conqueror.

We are fortunate that the Christians felt the Mezquita too beautiful to destroy when they constructed this huge cathedral in the center of it.

The cathedral also has a gorgeous ceilings...just like most cathedrals.

There is also a painting of the Annunciation by Pedro de Cordoba, which was of interest...

...along with the requisite giant organ.

The main retable (which I learned on this trip was a framed altarpiece and not an extra table) in red marble is a work of art created in the neo-classical style.

We walked around the cathedral for a bit as the place began filling up with tourists. The tour buses must have arrived!

An interesting tidbit regarding this UNESCO World Heritage site, which we had been touring for the past hour, concerned the literature handed out to us when we bought our tickets. The pamphlet read that we would be visiting the Catedral de Córdoba, not the Mezquita de Córdoba/Catedral de Córdoba. Reconquista revisionist history?

As Andalusia’s minister for tourism Rafael Rodríguez has stated, “Hiding its past as a mosque is like calling the Alhambra ‘the palace of Charles V’’s absurd.” Who can argue with that?

Back out in the Mezquita, we stopped by the Treasury...

...which is full of religious artifacts including...

..the gigantic, 16th century Corpus Christi Monstrance that is 8 1/2 feet tall and weighs in at more than 400 pounds and looks like a Gothic cathedral. My brain, of course, turned to song. “What A Marvelous Night For A Monstrance,” danced in my head, but for fear of alienating the group I sang it to myself. I didn’t know then, but Corpus Christi was going to have a negative effect on our trip in a couple of days.

Before departing, we walked by some underground ruins...

...and other artifacts...

..and the four of us exited to the courtyard on another hot day (I’ll cut to the chase...all our days from now on were hot).

We walked by the Plague Monuments dedicated to St. Raphael...

..and the Arco del Triunfo near the Puenta Romana, the Roman bridge built over the Guadalquivir River during the time of Augustus.

It was now time to go in search of some patios (not to sit and relax on) to view beautiful flowers.

We thought about stopping at the nearby 14th-century Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, which Generalissimo Francisco Franco (yes, he’s still dead) used later as a prison, but we wandered on.

On our way to the patios we ducked into the Caballerizas Reales (Royal Stables), which house Andalusian horses. The Royal Stables were created in the year 1570 by the King Philip II, who loved horses.

There’s even a show, but after our ill-fated stop at the Lipica Stud Farm in 2008, where we suffered through the Lipizzaner Slow Walk Show...

...and the dreaded 2013 Royal Horseguards’ debacle in London (I bet those damn horses are still staring at each other)...

...we thought a quick glance inside the stable and a horse trotting in the exercise ring were more than sufficient as our mane event this year. Luckily, this did not stall us too long.

Even our resident horsewoman Tracy didn’t nag me to see the show. It was tempting, though, because the horse dances with a flamenco dancer...

...which would make for a lot of hoofers at one show (truthfully it looked interesting and I’m sure it would have made for quite a nice pony tale).

You’d think it was time for lunch, especially since we’d once again had only a pastry in Sevilla before leaving, but we decided to hit the patios first.

After Tracy and Mary posed with a statue, we walked for a bit before I saw the sign for the Ruta de Patios Del Alcázar Viejo.

I knew we were now in the right place, or that we had dropped by Ruta Lee’s Córdoba residence (old movie star reference).

The Ruta de Patios Del Alcázar Viejo afforded us the opportunity to view six patios full of flowers and decorations (we had just missed the Córdoba Festival of Los Patios, which is a contest where participants open up their patios or courtyards to outsiders for free).

The Ruta de Patios Del Alcázar Viejo is not free, but we were willing to part with €6 to pay to see the six patios (plus two that were not on the tour).

This was another instance where, at the time, we were slightly underwhelmed, but the photos tell another story.

Indeed the patios were vibrant, but the flowers were a little past their prime (no wonder, it was about 200 degrees at noon).

We wandered from patio to patio...

...and the people were very friendly as they explained their gardens.

Of course, upon returning home as we looked at our photos, we said. “These look very beautiful.”

Perhaps the heat had just gotten to us by this time, but upon further review it was not a bust.

Tracy noted (I don’t remember because I believe sunstroke was rearing it’s hot head) that if you just want to see one beautiful patio (for free), check out the Asociación Amigos de los Patios Cordobeses, which is the main office and, according to my beautiful bride, “had an enchanting patio.”

It was mercifully time for lunch. We strolled down some picturesque streets until we came to the restaurant recommended by the woman at our hotel...the Restaurante Casa Pepe de la Judería, Calle del Romero, 1.

We were asked whether we wanted the regular restaurant or the tapas restaurant, and since I would have rather shot myself in the groin than eat more tapas, we chose the very lovely restaurant (inside, although there is a nice courtyard area, too).

Our server was David, who could be a voiceover talent if he wanted to be. Kim’s veal stew was excellent, but the portion was pretty small.

Mary is always a fish out of water and ordered anchovies to start with a salad.

Tracy and I shared some of that delicious fried eggplant with syrup (that reminds me, we have to make this at home). My veal cutlets were as giant as Kim’s dish was small, and they were very, very good.

David asked where we were from, and within minutes we found out why. Nice touch!

After looking at some colorful fans, it was on to our last destination before checking into the hotel.

The Sinagoga de Córdoba is one of only three remaining pre-Inquisition synagogues.

Built in 1315, over the years it has also been a hospital and a Catholic chapel.

Near the synagogue is the bronze statue of Maimonides, a great philosopher. I read afterward that you’re supposed to rub Maimonides’ bronze feet for good luck. Right now, we all wanted a foot rub.

It was time to go back and put our aching feet up at the Hotel Conde de Cárdenas, but I can only rest so long. My sister says if i was a kid today I’d be on Ritalin.

While Tracy siesta’d, Kim, Mary and I took a little walking tour around the area of the neighboring Plaza San Miguel.

There was a tile tribute to the famed bullfighter Manolete, who met a bad end. He was gored in the thigh at a bullfight in Linares, and despite many blood transfusion, he died.

Nearby was the Iglesia San Miguel, a medieval Gothic building with just a hint of Baroque added to it. And just to add some different architecture to the building, it has Romanesque doors. The parish was founded by Saint Ferdinand III in 1236 (yes, it’s a former mosque). It was declared a monument of national interest in 1931, but the only thing that interested us right now was a good meal.

Tracy joined us on our crosstown sojourn to dinner. We walked by the church we’d seen so often near out hotel...Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Silos (St. Dominic of Silos Church)...

...and quickly made a stop at Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús. It has a Baroque altarpiece that’s carved from Paraguayan cedar.

Now we were finally off to a restaurant called Casa Rubio, but since we were early for our reservations, we checked out the nearby surroundings.

The Puerta de Almodóvar is an old Moorish gate (and Córdoba’s most well-preserved gate) that marks the entrance of the Judería. The statue standing near the gate is of Seneca, who was a Córdoba-born philosopher who fiddled around in Nero’s court in Rome. Seneca had the misfortune of being implicated in a conspiracy to kill the wacky emperor, although history says he probably wasn’t involved. Nonetheless, the evil Nero forced Seneca to kill himself, which he did by severing numerous veins, so he could bleed out.

Near Seneca’s statue and the Puerta de Almodóvar is a rather long length of the city wall with a promenade where one can have a nice stroll, however we decided to promenade back to the Casa Rubio (Puerta de Almodóvar, 5) where I had made reservations for some delightful rooftop dining.

The outside temperature was still hovering above 300 degrees, and the nice gentleman informed us that we could indeed sit on the rooftop, but we might end up like Icarus’s wings (“know your Greek mythology for $400 Alex”) and melt.

Instead we ate in the cool of the inside dining room of this historic restaurant, which opened in 1920 and is located in the same building of the Jewish quarter that gave birth to the famous Córdoba historian, Antonio Jaén Morente. Ok, he’s famous in Córdoba.

The special starter of fava beans, carrots, sausage, potatoes and saffron was terrific as was our daily supplement of even more eggplant lathered with cane syrup (we were addicted).

In a Paul Bunyan moment, I ordered the ox sirloin (I did not sing “It Ain’t Me Babe”), which was great, as was most everything else The only dish that missed was Tracy’s pork ribs “mostly ribs”). We downed it all with my favorite Spanish wine, Juan Gil, which I buy by the caseload back home. Total bill was a quite affordable €114.

DIVERSION: Mary would become upset that we would have to pay a small fee for bread at restaurants. Very true, however, for instance at this restaurant the bread was a “whopping” €1.50 while three glasses of wine and a bottle of wine came to €25.40. If that was in the U.S., yes the bread would be free, but the wine would probably total $70 to $80 instead of about $28. I kept telling Mary, “Don’t worry about the stupid bread, we’re saving lots of dough.”

We walked off dinner by meandering along the Guadalquivir River toward the Puenta Romana. Before the bridge stands the Albolafia Water Mill, which was built during Top Rahman’s rule. It carried river water up to the Emir's palace by means of an aqueduct. The water wheel has been on Córdoba’s Coat of Arms since the 14th century. That big wheel keeps on turning.

We made it to the Puenta Romana. At the far end, the building you see is the late 12th-century Torre de la Calahorra, which you can visit unless you get there too late like we did.

At about the halfway point in the bridge is a shrine to the archangel San Rafael created by sculptor Bernabe Gomez del Rio in 1651.

Gazing back toward Córdoba, we saw the Arco del Triunfo...

...and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, both lit up as darkness fell. There was a fair on the far side of the river that had started earlier in the day, and a lot of people were walking to attend it on this night, but it was 10:30, and before we fell down, it was time to get back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

“Hey, we missed flamenco again,” Tracy said. “Well, we still have Toledo and Madrid,” I answered.

Although we only spent a day in Córdoba, we gave it all we could (except missing that darned flamenco)...walking nearly 11 miles in the process. Looking back, I could possibly see spending another day here, so in hindsight I might have cut out that Pueblos Blancos day (especially Ronda), although a relaxing night in Zahara de la Sierra and our visit to Grazalema made that a worthwhile experience, too.

Tomorrow we’d hit the tracks again for a much longer train ride and we’d end up in Toledo’s famous train station. We would settle in at an incredible apartment (one of the best places we have ever stayed, especially for the price) and set off to explore a little bit of the town. Sadly, we would find out that a holiday I’d never heard of until this trip was going to spoil one of the sights for us, but I did get my first look at an artist that I would come to appreciate much more during our time in terrific Toledo.

Next: Day Fourteen: Coffee And Gin, The Madrid Turn Around, Room With A View, We Are Not In Ohio, Pick Your Dish, Burger Joint, Cathedral Shut Out, Short Changed, The Doménikos Theotokópoulos Experience And The Revenge Of The Sneeze
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