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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

La Mezquita

Aloha Everyone,

La Mezquita is one of the most important Islamic buildings in Europe.

But, just viewing from the exterior, it is deceptive as to its enormity. Appropriately described as the Mosque -Cathederal, this is more than a casual viewing of Islamic architecture. The combination of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine influences with later additions of Christian architecture is impressive. Each period of the monument’s history clearly stands apart yet together, columns, arches, domes, statues and paintings all seem to occupy their rightful places.

The original Mosque (786-788) was built by Abdal-Rahman. Three enlargements took place until 994. Then in 1146, the whole monumental site of the Old Mosque, after conquest, was dedicated as a Catholic Church.

J.J. and I spent over an hour gazing and admiring its architectural grandeur. From time to time, we would sit at one of the benches to soak up the significance and immensity of the place and its history.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 30, 2017

Guadalquivir River & Roman Bridge

Aloha Everyone,

The Guadalquivir River is the second longest river in Spain. The first anchorage grounds were established by the Phoenicians for the precious metal trade. Romans and Arabs continued to use Córdoba as an important river port.

After the discovery of the Americas, the Spanish Empire shifted its international trading port to Seville. Today, the Guadalquivir River is navigable from the Gulf of Cádiz to Seville but no longer to Córdoba.  

The Roman Bridge, originally built in the early 1st century BC, has been reconstructed a number of times.

The waterwheel, no longer functioning, has Roman origin. It provided water for the nearby Alcázar gardens and was used to mill flour.

As a footnote, the Roman Bridge was featured in Season 5 of Game of Thrones, as the Long Bridge of Volantis.

It took me a mere 6 minutes speed walking to cross the Roman Bridge from the historic centre of Córdoba. The water level of the river is alarmingly low. It saddens me to ponder how long until the river runs dry.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sundays on Córdoba & Mercado Victoria

Aloha Everyone,

Nearly everything closes on Sunday. Supermarkets, fruits stands, businesses and restaurants are shut.  

J.J. and I are into our 4th week in Spain and we have adjusted to the Spanish lifestyle. Although I still tend to maintain my regular sleeping schedule, J.J. has comfortably adopted to the local timetable. Our breakfast is from 9:00 to 10:00 am; lunch is between 1:30 - 3:00 pm and dinner, if we are looking for a Spanish meal rather than tapas* and light snack, it starts at 8:30 pm at the earliest.

*A tapa refers to appetizer or maybe a small plate of food eaten as snack. Cold or hot items such as olives, cheese plate, coqueta, squid, fish, sausages and vegetables are some examples of tapas. Some food are to be eaten at the counter standing up. Other places have tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk. Spaniards seem to be fond of beer. J.J. and I order Agua con gas (carbonated water) with our tapas and meals which sometime gets a smile from our waiters.

One of Carmen’s recommendations was  Mercado Victoria located adjacent to the Victoria Garden. It is also in proximity to one of the main gates into the walled city. At Mercado Victoria one can find a variety of cuisine. Meals are served throughout the day and being able to point to what we would like to eat is a big draw. On our first night, we had a selection of the Middle Eastern dishes; on the second night empanadas (Spanish food - meat, vegetable or dessert in pie crust); and tonight, local BBQ style grilled squid with shrimp, an assortment of vegetables and mushrooms. All meals were between 23 to 30€ and J.J. and I are happy with the quality of the food. One advantage eating at Victoria is you don’t have to wait until 8:30 pm.

Victoria has free WiFi.  We were able to do FaceTime with our granddaughter.  

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Aloha Everyone,

According to The Guardian, the ongoing independence crisis in Catalonia had caused the number of international tourists to drop 20%. Córdoba has seen no change. The large number of visitors jostling for space to navigate the narrow cobblestoned streets within the medieval town is a bit overwhelming.

Córdoba was a one-time Roman city as well as a Moorish regional capital. This is a perfect place to learn about Spanish history, arts and culture through the Roman, Moorish and Reconquista periods.

Curious why some people were kissing the sculpture’s feet, I googled about Rabbi Moses ben Maimon. Better known as Maimonides, he was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher born in Córdoba. He became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages.

One advantage of Córdoba is that its terrain is flat, thus this is a very walkable city. From our apartment, most places of interests are reachable within a 40 minutes walk. I am also happy to discover that there are many beautiful parks on our walking routes, including Prague Juan Carlos, located less than 2 minutes from our domicile. It is where I can do my daily speed walking.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ronda Gastronomy & On to Córdoba

Aloha Everyone,

Either I have become more adventurous or J.J. and I were surrounded by restaurants offering some amazing food in Ronda. We had memorable meals in this city. Here are some examples:

J.J.’s meat tapa plate

My vegetable tapa plate - all except for the 3 potato based tapas were excellent

My grilled rack of lamb with vegetables was welcomed by J.J.

J.J.’s cold tapa plate

J.J.’s grilled squid too unusual for my taste, but he said it was very good!

J.J.’s grilled leg of lamb

My oxtail dish, Andalusia’s specialty

We arrived in Córdoba this afternoon. Our habitation (room) is actually one bedroom within a clean, well-maintained modern apartment unit owned by Carmen. Outgoing and gregarious, Carmen invited us to sit at the dining table and she took out one brochure after another of “must see” places in Córdoba.

The upside of staying here is we will get a little taste of Spanish life through Carmen and her bachelor son, Juan Carlos. The mother and son have their individual ensuite, but share the kitchen and other living spaces. The downside is sharing of a bathroom with possible other guests. Interesting situation which J.J. and I will accept as adding another facet to our traveling experience.

Aloha -- Cathi