Berenjenas with everything..

You may be able to detect from todays featured image, that this morning dawned grey, overcast and rainy. It gets light here at a very sensible time, about 8:15am. The temperature had dropped quite significantly and I actually had to put a light jumper on. Because the weather was so uncertain, we only ventured ten minutes walk away, to the Museum of Fine Arts, a gallery showing works by Julio Romero de Torres and Posado Del Potro, which houses a flamenco exhibit. The Fine Arts museum was frankly overburdened with heavy religious paintings, though we used the elevator, which was made by Schindler, hence ‘Schindlers Lift’…well it made me laugh, which is more than the exhibits did.

Julio Romero de Torres is a different thing altogether. True, there are religious influences in some of his works but in the main they are female studies with flamenco connections. Some of the canvases are stunningly beautiful.

Sadly I wasn’t able to take any photos in the exhibitions but could in the Flamenco museum. This has an interactive part, where you can practice your tap tempo and lots of small LCD screens, some with earpieces to listen to the Flamenco vocals. In the courtyard they were constructing an art piece representing a flamenco dancer. They were expecting quite a crowd judging by the number of water bottles on the table.

It was after 1pm when we left, so we stopped off for a quick beer and a non alcoholic mojito, then we trundled off towards Cordoba. We wandered into the Jewish quarter, searching for a statue of Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, doctor, teacher and rabbi from the 12th century. Susie wanted her photo taken with him.

We found our way into a market, though it was similar to the one we discovered the other day, in that there was a central seating area, with food outlets on the outside. You chose one, placed your order, sat down and they brought it to your table. I have to confess crisply fried strips of aubergine, drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar are becoming our fast food of choice. Today was no exception.

By this time a lot of the heavy cloud had lifted and the temperature was climbing rapidly. Time for our siesta, so we wandered back to the apartment. Tonight we are returning to Garum 2.1 (unless their software has had a revision). Tomorrow we leave Cordoba by bus for Seville, will have lunch there and catch a flight to Orly which doesn’t get in till almost 11pm. I doubt I’ll have the energy to write until Friday, when we get back home, so you’ll have to wait for our thoughts on Seville and Cordoba till then…adios..

 

Where have all the tourists gone?..

Most of them have gone home it seems. True the weather wasn’t as sunny or hot as it had been but it seems the hordes that were here over the weekend have disappeared. It was to our advantage however. We’d intended to return to the Mezquita and found the patio in front relatively deserted, save for the ever present tour groups following fans, umbrellas or whatever comes to hand it seems. The Mezquita is better in the daylight, which plays around the arches and creates beautiful effects. We concentrated on the original mosque, as the later Christian ‘improvements’ still seem to conflict with the simplicity of the original Muslim design.

Walking on the Alcazar, we relished not having to dodge crying kids and frustrated parents, slow moving chains of people with earpieces trying to keep up with their guide and the odd wedding guest.

The Alcazar is mostly about it’s gardens, which are beautiful. Full of water features and formal beds of roses, well tended trees and shrubs and on this occasion two groups of reasonably well behaved schoolchildren. The house interior, though housing Roman artefacts and mosaics isn’t quite as charming.

We ended up in La Juderia again. Not without being verbally accosted by the horse drawn carriage drivers eager for a mug. They’re very persistent and call after you in many languages even when you are fifty metres down the street. Restaurante Almudina looked promising. We were the only guests for quite a while, though the arrival of an Italian tour group livened things up eventually, as they tramped upstairs for a meal, leaving their two female guides sat at a downstairs table, chatting animatedly using hand gestures or so it seemed to me. Our meal was good without being remarkable and we wandered back, under gloomy clouds, threatening rain.

We didn’t venture out until quite late this evening, there had been one heavy shower and it was looking like more when we could no longer dampen our stomachs protestations for more food. The main street down as far as the Mezquita was very sparsely populated, some of the bars and restaurants were closed and we chose Bodegas Mezquita not just because it was open but because it looked friendly. We ordered our new favourite of berenjenas and a couple of desserts. Somewhat akin to a fast food restaurant our aubergine chips arrived very quickly but it was ages before the desserts came. We had to remind them too!! By the time we came out, thunder and lightning was rolling around and we dodged under shop awnings till we got back to the apartment. Who said it didn’t rain here??

 

Not chips but deep fried aubergines drizzled in honey…

Even without a knapsack on our back we went wandering again today. We have spent some time in and around the more ‘touristy’ parts of Cordoba, enough to put us off returning to be truthful. However, this morning we discovered more to persuade us that maybe, just maybe, we were being hasty…

We headed for the Alcazar, which we knew closed on Mondays but we thought the exterior was worth a look at least. It was and we’ll try to go again tomorrow. Further on we saw the stables of the Caballerizas, which put on evening horse shows. Sadly, neither of us being interested in things equine, we decided to pass on the opportunity.

We now reached an area of Cordoba called San Basilio. It’s streets are more uniform than much of the old city and when May comes around the patios will be open and resplendent with flowers. That’s May the month by the way, I don’t think Theresa has Cordoba on her list of cities to visit just yet…Stopping just by one of the old gates in the city walls we found a watering hole, with orange juice for Susie and an espresso for me. It was nearing lunch time, and we found Juan Pena, a tapas bar highlighted on our map. A very authentic place, with old tools on the wall and old blokes standing at the bar. Sadly their tapas were very average but it got extra brownie points for atmosphere and very clean loos…

The eagle eyed among you will notice their Google (other search engines are available) translated menu included RAF Tomato. Either this is the next generation of Red Arrow display jets or a secret bomber base in Lincolnshire…

Somehow we ended up back in the Jewish quarter and it’s warren of narrow, meandering streets. By this time we were again running out of steam and before you ask, neither of us had tried an RAF Tomato. The way back to the apartment seems longer with each passing day, either we are aging quickly or my map reading skills are deteriorating rapidly. It’s probably both…

We had a table booked for 8:30 at La Fuente a mere five minute OAP stagger from the front door. It has, rightly so, a reputation for it’s Berenjenas, deep fried aubergine chips, drizzled in balsamic vinegar and honey. They were as delicious as they sound. The other courses were excellent too but the aubergines were outstanding.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings and that the Alcazar charms us into returning..

Sunday strolls and tasting tapas..

We had a relaxing sort of day, through the portico opposite our apartment, past the church there. If there’s one thing about Cordoba, you won’t be stuck for somewhere to confess. On we went to Plaza de la Correda, large and open with bars and cafes around the outside. On again, pausing at the Temple Romano and baking in the October sunshine. Next stop was Plaza Tendillas, lined with boutique shops and a large fountain in the middle. Our main goal was Mercado Victoria, which turned out not to be full of stalls selling fruit and veg but a large selection of fast food stands. It was pretty busy so we laid claim to a table and fortified ourselves with two cups of different salmarejo, tortilla and two glasses of sangria. Not our usual Sunday lunch…

We strolled on to La Juderia (the Jewish Quarter), looked at the old synagogue, took in some more patios and stopped for a cold drink. While we were sipping, five men on horseback went past. I’m not sure if they were locals, out for a quick afternoon hack or tourists on 1HP Segways…

Back at the apartment, we got ready for dinner at Garum 2.1 which advertises itself as a ‘bistronomic tapas bar’. There was minor confusion about it’s opening time, however we took their tapas tasting menu and on the whole, were not disappointed.  Some of their inventive and unusual tapas are award winning and whilst we couldn’t face one that had a tripe like consistency the pre dessert of sheeps yougurt, flavoured with vanilla and sprinkled with cinnamon was heavenly. Service was rather slow but we weren’t in too much of a hurry, especially as it’s just five minutes walk from where we are staying…

It was well past 11pm when we finished eating, so apologies for the delayed publishing of what’s gone in our stomachs…

White weddings and for taxis, red is the new green..

We didn’t have a plan today, great for me but barely credible for Susie who researches and organises everything. We began by crossing the river at Puente de Miraflores, walking along the riverbank and crossing back over on the Puente Romano into the lower city centre. There aren’t good views of Cordoba from the opposite bank, trees and bushes are in the way. To get up to the Roman bridge we walked under it and up a ramp to the street. There were one or two stalls at the roadside, one of which caught our attention as she was selling ‘bio’ drinks. Susie ordered a multi fruit one which she blitzed and I thought I’d try a ‘bio’ lemonade, both in non biodegradeable plastic cups. Again she blitzed every ingredient, asked if I’d like mint in it to which I agreed and presented a very chilled and un-lemonade looking drink in a fetching dirty yellow colour. I took a sip from the straw and immediately my mouth shrivelled up. It was possibly the most acidic thing I’ve ever had and fairly undrinkable.

We sat on a bench near the bridge observing the tribes of walking groups, whilst I prised my mouth open periodically to sip the lemonade. Horrible it may have been but it had been paid for. Like many other European cities, weddings are held on Saturdays and while we sat, there was a steady passage of well dressed guests heading towards town. A bride and groom appeared with a photographer to our right and off they walked down a cycle path by the riverbank, the brides long flowing white gown doubling as a very effective dead leaf sweeper…

I finally drained the lemonade (and am still suffering from it’s after effects) and we wandered in the direction of the Mezquita, passing the ubiquitous buskers on the bridge. One was playing an accordion and making such elaborations to the melodies as to render them unrecognisable and a boy/girl duet who were actually so good we gave them some change. It may have been as much as two Euros…

The area round the Mezquita was packed with tourists and we found its inner courtyard full of an after wedding throng. The bride and groom were about to exit and I was shooed away from the gates by a harassed official photographer. The newlyweds stood beaming and we got caught in the thrown rice overflow. I suppose we should be grateful it wasn’t cooked paella. We quickly tired of the masses of tourists and sought refuge in on of the small patios, which housed a couple of leather shops. Strolling on, we had a quick lunch in another patio, which was a tapas restaurant. The huge number of visitors we mingled with really was too much and we jointly decided to return to the apartment.

After our afternoon siesta we got ready for our evening dinner reservation at Choco which has been awarded a Michelin star. A taxi ride away, we turned up early and the waiter asked us to seat ourselves at an outside table to have pre dinner drinks. At 8:30, we were ushered into a gold and bamboo themed comfy seating area where we had more drinks and three appetizers. The maitre’d collected us and took us through to the kitchen for another appetizer which was smoked in front of us. Finally we were shown into the restaurant proper where we were presented with a choice of two tasting menus, one slightly shorter than the other. Naturally we chose the one with more courses.

With due regard to it’s star rating, we were a little underwhelmed with the dishes. The flavours and ingredients, were perhaps a little too subtle for my own taste. The presentation and service were wonderful,  even folding your napkin if you got up from the table. They called us a taxi and we sped home, sometimes cornering on two wheels and once through red lights. We got home, tired, happy and amazingly in one piece…

I’m writing this the next morning and as again we have no definitive plans for today, this evenings blog may have less words and photos…you should be thankful for small mercies…

 

Apparently, oranges are the only fruit..

This morning we met Paulo and Dominic for breakfast and introduced them to the delights of Pan Y Pui. We said a fond adios to them, the bakery owner, his staff and ultimately Seville. Seville is a beautiful city and we think it is worth going back to..if only for the chocolate croissants…

We arrived by taxi at the coach station, located which bay number our coach to Cordoba would depart from and waited. Then it turned out the coach adjacent to our bay was the coach we needed, luckily we found out well before it went. Two hours and another taxi ride later we were here. Our apartment is called ‘Petitgrain’ and has orange trees growing by the side of the road outside our window. It’s delightful and we have a small private patio.

Susie had booked an after dusk tour of the Mezquita, I managed to take one photo inside the courtyard before being told that photos we not allowed….

The tour was very atmospheric, as they illuminated the interior as the guide walked us through. I found the mosque much more interesting than the later Christian additions, which seemed rather out of place. We exited an hour later and made our way to the restaurant where earlier we’d made a reservation. The meal was good though we were both almost falling asleep over it. Neither of us could face dessert, which just proves how tired we were….and on that note, I’m off to bed….

Wandering round casas…..

Which is all we did today. It’s our last full day in Seville and it’s been hotter than previously. Our intention was to try to get in to the Alcazar but neither of us felt like standing in a line and risking heatstroke so plan B was worked out…

There is a Seville walking route which takes you round five Casas Palacio . We’d seen two yesterday and whilst we couldn’t fit in all of the other three we were determined to visit two of them.

Walking north we headed for Las Duenas, in which gardens feature strongly. It’s truly beautiful, if a little museum like…

After seeing Las Duenas, we stopped off it the Japanese restaurant we found yesterday for a light sushi lunch and walked south, past our apartment to Casa de Salinas. We found the gate locked but could see a digital timer counting down the 14 minutes to the next guided tour. The beep went off and sure enough someone did turn up. I was disappointed she didn’t go and take something out of the oven but instead took our money and gave us a personal tour of the house. Salinas is still occupied by the owners and their family. In fact there was going to be a family wedding there this coming weekend.

More compact than the others and without a garden the tour didn’t last long. It was however fascinating.

Wilting a little we came back to the apartment and got ready to meet two friends of Susies, Paulo and Dominic. They’d flown into Seville that afternoon for a weekend break and we were to meet them for dinner at their hotel. We passed a lovely evening together and they were good enough to walk part of the way back to our apartment with us, just so they could get lost too…

Off we go to Cordoba tomorrow, catching the coach at 12:30…..I hope the next place is a bit quieter…