Day 23 continued:
We continued our road trip from Ronda to Córdoba. It was another 2 hours and 15 minutes into the city, and finally we made our way in before the sun had set. We were trying to find our way through the small city side streets in an attempt to drop our bags off at the hostel,and hopefully find street side parking. As we tried to navigate the tedious and maze-like one way streets we kept ending up going in circles around the same few couple of square kilometers.
At this point the sun was nearly down and we were beginning lose our nerve, when out of the corner of my eye, another car came grinding up on our rented Alfa Romeo. We were caught off guard & completely unsure of what to do… I did the only thing that I know to do, as an American citizen… I put on my flashing hazard lights, and pulled over into the far the left lane & came to a halt. Within a couple of seconds a dark and curly haired woman, maybe in her fifties, pulled over in front of me, got out of her car, & began yelling at me in Spanish. I obviously did not understand what she was saying. We examined each others cars, but she kept yelling as I told her “no comprendo” & “no hablo español”. Next thing I knew, she was climbing back into her car & driving off. Erica & I were at a total loss. We were “lost” in a foreign city, just experienced a hit & run, and had no clue what else could possibly go wrong on this trip. We did the best thing we could think to do: headed to the underground parking closest to our hotel, and just walk because that is pretty hard to screw up. Finally, our car was parked safely in an underground garage. We surveyed the car damage created by the crazed local, and my sister came up with the idea that maybe a magic eraser would work…
We saved this task for another day, our first order of business was checking in to our hostel. Erica navigated our way, with bags in tow, to the hostel. As we walked, we realized there was no way in hell we would have made it there easily in the car let alone been able to park… There was no room! Thank God, for easy underground parking; if only we would have just parked in the first place!
When we got to the front desk, we got our room assigned, and inquired with the gentleman there about what he thought we should do about our car… Basically, after his uncertain advice, we decided we would call Mom. haha…. (Mom’s just always have sound wisdom in tough situations.)
As we bundled up to head out, we called our mom… who’s advice was “call your credit card company and see what they say in regards to the insurance”… (Seriously…. always great advice from Mom.) She always agreed that we should try the magic eraser, and see what happens… We were hungry, and just needed a mental break so we headed to dinner. We headed back through the one way roads, across the main road, and made our way inside Mercado Victoria… a gastro market. FUN FACT: It was the first in Andalusia.
We made our way around, checking out all of the different stalls serving all sorts of cuisine from around the world. I settled on Mexican, as I needed a taste of home. Erica, on the other hand went a little further south, with Argentinian empanadas. We divided to order and then met back up on the over-sized and enclosed outdoor patio. Thankfully, it wasn’t too chilly, and it didn’t have the over-amplified noise that was inside. I feasted on a plate of simple nachos, that I think I only enjoyed because of the jalapeños. Meanwhile my sister worked on finishing off her massive and delicious empanadas. Clearly, her eyes were bigger than her stomach. We sat, relaxed, and discussed, but were both exhausted from our trying day… This trip had been more of a challenge than we anticipated, but it was definitely worth it. We made our way back to the hostel, with the intent to climb right into bed.
We woke eager. We were so excited for what the city of Córdoba might have in store for us. We were still on the hunt for street art, and wanted to see some of the fabulous iconic sights the city had in store for us.
Once we were ready, we headed out in search of breakfast. We found our way down the small narrow cobblestone roads, and ended up in a touristy section with shops filled with souvenirs to remind visitors of Flamenco, toros, and the beautiful city. We ended up inside Gourmet Iberico Patio Romano, a fun cafe with an indoor patio! We ordered what I call an English Breakfast: eggs, toast, beans, and bacon, and finished it off with a couple pain au chocolat that were quite delicious. We paid our tab, and headed back on the street toward the Mosque–Cathedral. The exterior of the structure was almost as exquisite as the inside. We found our way into the beautiful courtyard, and wandered to the ticket counter and made our purchase. From there, we looped around over the entry, where they tore our tickets and let us pass.
I knew what to expect, but I also didn’t… I didn’t realize it was going to be such a beautiful blend of a Cathedral & a Mosque, nor did I expect the number of columns! It was incredible. The dimly lit archways were truly something to be rivaled. This place had mystique. I was captivated by the beauty and the things that had happened here. It was unique & beautiful. How does a mosque become a cathedral so gracefully?
We spent over an hour wandering through, trying to get great photos without tourists, which was a bigger challenge than anticipated. The details were so incredibly beautiful. TIP: I would definitely recommend the visit if you are in Córdoba as it is now one of my favorite churches to see!
Once we headed out, we wanted to head toward the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. Our direction was first toward the bridge in order to get our bearings, but we were immediately sidetracked by an artist. He sat there painting away, as has wife attempted to communicate with us as we expressed interest in his work. The pricing was very good. I think they sold his work for fun, not necessarily for a living. My sister, made her purchase, but I wanted to think on it. She told us that they would be there until about 1:30 PM.
With timing in mind, we pressed on fervently in search of the Alcazar. It wasn’t even a full kilometer & took less than 10 minutes to walk to. The outside was fabulous. Tall tan brick gave it a bit of simple & rustic feel, which translated to the interior perfectly. The structure itself was fairly small. We explored the interior for nearly 20 to 30 minutes, and the most challenging part was navigating the stairs as other tourists were coming back and forth. We were able to take in some great city views from the top, and noticed the stunning gardens below. We quickly realized that the reason to go to the Alcazar in Cordoba is the gardens. They are incredibly lush, full of vivid flowers and fragrant orange trees. FUN FACT: The Valencia oranges which can be found through out Andalusia are inedible (Erica can verify), they are far to sour for eating. Their only purpose for planting is the scent they give off. Erica & I enjoyed wandering the gardens, and we had a great time goofing off. We came up with a great book idea called Where’s Natalie?… A “find me” game that I wanted to gift to my husband, but we never really followed through. But we were cracking up as I ducked behind shrubberies, and peered out shyly only exposing my forehead and eyes.
We were watching the clock, as we realized that I was running out of time to get back to the artist by the bridge. When we arrived, the original painting I liked was gone, which I took as a sign that it wasn’t the one. Instead, I left with three others. Two for me, and one for our mom. They were such beautiful pieces of work, that I couldn’t resist.
Once the deal was made, and everything was wrapped up, we headed across the Roman bridge. It was a perfect day to be strolling the city, cool and cloudy but not cold. The walk was refreshing, and I enjoyed walking among my fellow visitors to the other side to take in the old city view.
As we began crossing back over, we both realized that we could use a bench… Our backs were sore from all the exploration. We took a seat for a little while, and then decided that it might be a good idea to actually rest at a cafe. So we headed inward a little bit, and stumbled on an outdoor cafe where we were able to order a few drinks to caffeinate and relax, and we were also able to get some more pain au chocolate because you can never have too many in a day, right?
After maybe an hour, we headed back toward the hostel to drop off our artwork, and plan our next move. We were still in need of magic erasers, so we decided to head toward a market. Somehow we ended up at a grocery store several blocks away, where we proceeded to buy a 6-pack of two liter water bottles, and a pack of off-brand magic erasers. The walk back was longer because we somehow ended up taking a different route. We switched off carrying the large case of water since it was heavy, and finally found ourselves in the parking garage, next to our sweet Alfa Romeo. We dropped off the majority of the water in the back seat, and unpacked a couple of magic erasers & soaked it with some of our water. Erica did most of the work as we attempted to scrub off the paint from the other car… We made quite a bit of progress, but we also had an issue with some denting. We decided that it was a good start, and to revisit it later. We just wanted to eat. We dropped off our remaining water bottles, and headed to grab any essentials we might want for dinner, which were far and few between.
We promptly headed back out in search of a restaurant. We ended up at a great small restaurant, El Choto, where we ordered a fantastic dish of vegetable Paella on the quaint & dimly lit patio. It was so good that we practically finished off the pan. We were happy little clams, enjoying a warm meal on a cool evening outside.
With full bellies, we wandered aimlessly for a little while before deciding to head back to our room. FACT: Wandering in a dark strange city isn’t always wise… Stay vigilant. When we got there, we did our best to get things in order for the next morning. We were going to be departing, and wanted to get a jump start on the day.
Our heads hit the pillow at a reasonable hour, and we were soon asleep.
We were up bright and early, and ready for the next jourey ahead. We took our showers, and finished packing before we headed to checkout. We carried our luggage back down the spiral staircase, and quickly were at the door and headed to the car. We lugged our luggage the quick distance back to the parking garage, and did our best to load up the car and get it organized quickly.
We wanted to grab breakfast on our way out of town, as it was an hour and a half drive to Sevilla, and we were hungry (we are always hungry). We decided to stop at a McDonald’s for convenience. We ate our meal somewhat rapidly, and refreshed our directions with the complimentary wifi (Thanks McD!). In a jiff we were back on the road!
…to be continued…