Greetings from Málaga,
It has been a fascinating week as we rode trains, buses, boats, and horse drawn carriages in various Spanish towns this week. We arrived in Córdoba on Sunday the 7th and found our hotel on the outskirts of the old town, via city bus. It was a lovely place, tucked into a posh neighborhood, just up the hill from town. We settle into some lawn chairs, on the lawn near the pool, had our summer drink of gin and tonic, and read. Later we attempted to go on the night walking tour, but it only ran on Friday and Saturday in the summer. Instead, we enjoyed a small repast in the square, and wandered back, via bus.
The next day in Córdoba was altogether different. We started with a lovely breakfast at the Joel, then bused our way to the mosque/cathedral and were swept away by the immensity, granduer, and use of ecclesiastical space to accommodate variance in spiritual/cultural differences. The mosque was ancient, spacious enough for 40,000 prayer mats and celebrants, after three additions. Around the outer edges were Christian chapels, installed when the Muslims were ousted in the 15th c. In the center was a huge catholic chuch, relate with gold, dark wood, and iconic worship objects. Originally, the Moslems built the mosque on top of a Visigoth church erected in the 6th c. The juxtapositioning of two houses of worship in one was quite extraordinary, both with opulence and both reaching out to the god they seek. We followed the path from here to the roman bridge, built in the 3rd c AD, where it was apparent the Romans used the river for milling. We looked for other museums, but since it was Monday, we met with closed doors, but found a cool pool outside the acheology museum where we soaked our feet and legs, then braved the Córdoba heat, as we beat it back to the pool, and ended up at dinner, celebrating our first week in Spain with a bottle of champagne and a crisp moon above our heads. It was a great send off for Sevilla.
Sevilla, a large grand city on the same river as Córdoba, the cualquivir. Our ultra modern hotel, at the edge of the alameda de Hercules gave us pause, along with the extensive grafitti all ove the buildings and parks. However, we ventured out, found the largest cathedral in the world, with 20+ chapels, Christopher columbus' final resting place, carried by four 10' tall guards carved out of marble, the alcáthar, replete with Islamic tile art, gardens, and enormous rooms, since this is the Sevilla home of the royalty. We made it to the river cruise tour of the city, which was informative about history and positioning of Sevilla as a maritime player. Afterward, we found our way to the flamenco show Adam and Catherine told us about, Los Gallos, and caught the 10:30 show. The stage was small, and we were fortunate to get a front row seat. Each dancer, male and female, was accompanied by two or three performers of guitar, singing, and hand clapping. The dancers spurred the musicians and the feet flew, skirts swirled, and we were enthralled. We found a little place for a sandwich and ices, then fell in bed around 2:00am.
The next day we rose late and went in search of the naval museum, which we learned was closed, so we retraced our steps to a lovely restaurant, had paella, which reminded me of jambalaya, stayed out of the heat for a while, then back to the river for a kayak paddle on the river. The equipment was punk, but the river beautiful, clear, and nice for paddling. Afterward, we shared a gin and tonic on the dock and watched the final remnants of the glorious sunset that had started when we were paddling. At dark we found a horse drawn carriage and toured the places we had not visited; plaza of the Americas, plaza españa, parks, and the river. It was grand indeed. We were like little kids, oohing and ahhing.
We took the train to cádiz, the oldest city in Spain, and for that matter, Europe. We went on a bus tour and learned that this town, from whence Christopher departed in 1493, is a grand port, situated along a peninsula, with a beach on the westerly side. We stopped off at a seafood place and gorges on fried delicacies, chiding with the best of the multitudes ofmlocals who had come off the beach for mediano. We caught our bus to Algeciras in the late afternoon, and arrived two hours later, a bit concerned with the surroundings of tis working port town, until we found our next hotel. We had reservations at the hotel reina Christina, a hotel built in 1902, and had the feel of old world elegance. It turned out that many dignitaries had stayed here, so we set ip camp and spent all of our algeciras time here, laying by the pool, dining, dancing, drinking, sleeping, and goofing off. Fom here we could see the rock of Gibraltar, which turned out to be one of the calling card for the place, in addition to it's beauty.
In the morning we took the city his to la linea, the border town of Gibraltar. We walked into Gibraltar and right into a tour of the rock. This British province is home to off shore banks, gambling, shipping, and tourism. The rock juts 1200 feet out of the water, has monkeys living in the upper range, and was used by the moors as a defense against Spain, until the british took it and kept it since 1604. We toured caves, both natural and man made, took pictures with monkeys on our heads, and walked about town in the late afternoon. The fish and chips were nice, along with the English breakfast, but the best wa the full moon rise ove the center of the rock at 11:30 last night. While we waited for the emergence of the lunar rise, we amused ourselves, on the eighth floor solarium, with the active freighter traffic coming and going fom Africa to Gibraltar to algeciras. It was terrific for us two boat folks. We never did see rhe queen of the south, but it was till early.
Today we arrived in málaga in the early afternoon, found the hotel, another large modern one. We got on the tour bus and rode through sites of ancient Moslem, 14th c castles, and 16th c churches, while observing the extensive working port, and active beaches. We noticed a big party going on in the city center, so hopped off, sat down for a GT, and watched, listened to, and walked through the reveling. It was fiera time in Malaga. Ladies were in flamenco dresses, dancers from the mountains came down, bands of people in small groups were drumming, singing, young people in mosh pits singing favorite Spanish rap tunes, and everyone drinking. I came out with a small drinking cup, celebrating the day. We ended the day sedately emailing and blogging. Tomorrow we are off to Granada and the alhambra, which was the power base of the Moslems when they ruled Spain from 711-1492. I hope to find some more interesting tile art stuff for my math methods classes. Our heads continue to spin.
Hope all is well with you and yours. Love jt