Sunday, I left Madrid for a one week stint in Southern Spain. I am traveling alone as my travel buddies, Ana and Kate, opted for an extra week in the Canary Islands. I love beaches, but there was something about these three cities in Southern Spain that I had to see. Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba are popular cities in the Andalusia region, which is known for its mix of Muslims, Jews and Christians and overall Islamic influence. Each city has at least one well known mosque, cathedral and/or palace. Some say this region represents the essence of Spain, so I had to come see for myself.
Last weekend, we took a weekend roadtrip to Granada to see the Alhambra and it was worth the trip. In two days, I fell in love with Granada and its islamic charm. Signs are written in Spanish and Arabic and I felt a sense of what it’s like to be in Morocco. This will have to do since I won’t be making it to Morocco this time around. Words and pictures cannot capture the grandness of the Alhambra. Its a
palace and fortress where various rulers lived. The Palacio Nazaries is the gorgeous, intriguely designed main palace. Then there’s Generalife, a massive garden that’s like a mini maze. The entire thing took about two to three hours to walk through. It was definitely worth the trip.
Now I’m completely the journey with Cordoba and Sevilla this week. I took the Ave train from Madrid to Cordoba which is kind of expensive for a train ride, but it cuts the trave time in half to less than two hours. The train ride was nice and relaxing. They even played a movie, Madagascar 2, which was the perfect start to my trip. I haven’t seen the first one, but this one had me cracking up from beginning to end. I was laughing so hard that a few kids where looking at me like “what is wrong with that woman?”. Animated movies are some of the movies out there now.
Anyway, so yesterday I did a 24 hour stop through Cordoba. Its a small enchanting city that doesn’t require much time. Its claim to fame is the Mezquita. this was my sole purpose in going so I booked a cheap hotel next door to it, checked in, put my bags down and headed over. It was definitely worth the stop. When I walked in I gasped in awe. I didn’t know what to expect and was focused on getting in, that I just stopped in my tracks. My travels book says its hard to exaggerate the beauty of the Mezquita and it was right. It’s a beautiful mosque and one of the great creations of Islamic architecture with shimmering gold mosaics and red and white striped arches into infinity. The Mezquita has topped the list of favorite sites in Spain.
After two hours in the Mezquita, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city stopping to rehydrate and rest in parks and plazas. I bought an audiobook and listened to that while walking around. It turned out to be a good complement to day. After about six hours of walking, I had dinner and tried the traditional dish of oxtail stew, which was good. Then I went to a concert at the Guitar Festival.
It was a Spanish guitarist and his band. It was a long day, but a great day overall!
After a long day and night in Cordoba, this morning I hopped on the bus to Sevilla. The bus ride took about two hours and only costs 10 euros. I opted for the bus over the train this time because the travel time was about the same and the bus is about 50 euros cheaper. The ride was nice and cozy on the air conditioned coach bus with two seats to myself. Noting the A/C is key after I had a restless night of sleep in a hot room that supposedly had A/C.
My first impressions of Sevilla are positive and I think I am going to enjoy spending the next four days here. Sevilla is a bigger city than Cordoba with a lot more to see and do. My schedule is completely open to do whatever I want. I’m not taking any classes this week either. The only thing that is a must is a visit to an Arabic Bathhouse for a little relaxation.