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Report 1963: Through Extremadura, on to Madrid, into Cordoba

By kathyk from Michigan, Spring 2011

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Page 5 of 6: Andalucia

Mid morning we stopped at the only town of any size along the road, Venta de Cardena. Asking for a place to eat, a lady literally took me by the arm and delivered us to the only bar in town. Passing through the fly curtain, this in March, we entered a big open room with a wood fire burning at the far end. They served us but also said they were about to close for the day because they were going out to the country – for me, we were already ”out in the country” - for the annual killing (matanza) or harvest of something. Never was clear. We continued on to...

Montoro

This major town of Roman origin is built along the upper ridge of the river Guadalquivir. Parking the car, we walked the streets and sat for while in the main plaza. There were many skinny dogs that tugged at my heartstrings. I went to a butcher shop and bought a bunch of chicken wings. The butcher asked why me why a foreigner (i.e., rich) was not buying better pieces of meat. No shame of curiosity here. When I told him it was for the dogs in the plaza, I only got uncomprehending looks from him and other shoppers by my side in the store. Well at least those dogs filled their bellies that day.

We three humans, headed for the town casino for lunch. This was a beautiful old building. We were seated in the glass roofed courtyard. Here we had our first – of many – glasses of Montilla, the Cordobes verison of sherry (fino). Our American friend was introduced to her first taste of Andalucian tapa delicacies, like baby eels and other unmentionables. We were also given a tour of the whole building, from the basement that used to hold prisoners of the Spanish Civil War, to the upstairs salon with windows onto the Semana Santa parade route, places for the two extremes of Spanish society.

Cordoba

After driving through the traffic, we dropped off our rental car at the train station and caught a taxi to our hostel. The driver had to fold in the mirrors of the car to pass through some of the streets in the old city, which is exactly where we were going to stay for the next six nights! We had a triple room reserved for us at the Interjoven Youth Hostel, a few streets away from the Mezquita. I reviewed the place in the hotels section.

We spent six nights here and explored Cordoba up, down and across. For me, this was the most rewarding city of all the Andalucian capitals. People were very friendly. Seldom was it necessary to ask for directions. Many times when we were studying a map, a Cordobes would approach us and offer help. We did and saw so many things that I am going to just list them. Everything was a good experience. I cannot say one negative thing about our time in Cordoba.

  • Museum of Bellas Artes, great building itself and of course, the art works.
  • Bar el Gallo, old time bar filled with old men, here our glasses were filled to the rim with Montilla.
  • The Casino, we were given a tour of some gardens normally off limits and invited for a drink in the members only bar.
  • Caballerizas Reales, the royal horse stables, for a demonstration of dressage, done Spanish style, “Doma Vaquera” with music and costumes.
  • Palacio Viana, twelve patio gardens, fountains, furniture, art etc.
  • Alcazar, museum, vistas and the extensive, just renovated, gardens.
  • Banos Arabes, steamy cleanliness and massages in tiled rooms.
  • The Bridge, perfect place for a stroll.
  • Food, we ate and had tapas at many places, too many to mention, 90% were excellent.
  • Shopping, an array of shops to buy ceramics, leather, jewelry, scarves and more.
  • La Mezquita, what can my words convey, you must see this site.

We did and saw other things not listed but even with six days, we did not venture out to Medina Azahara, and the Julio Romero Torres museum was closed for renovations.

Finally, we had to leave. We had reservations on the AVE going to Madrid. The ride was a nice change of pace for me who had been the driver. I could sit back in the quiet and roomy cars and watch the countryside float by.

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