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??

 

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…

 

Visiting the Condesa’s palace…

Today we found a little gem. Not one you can wear or even a midget one you can chew but a gem of a house. The Casa Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija will not be on every tourists must see list in Seville. We think it should be..

Originally built in the 16th century and remodelled in the 19th, it was bought by the Countess of Lebrija, Dona Regla Manjon y Mergelina in 1901 and she spent the next 13 years reconstructing it in her own unique style. She bought original Roman mosaics from private collections and decorated the house with Roman, Greek and Persian statues, Louis XVI furniture and 17th century ceramic tiles. To some it may seem a little ‘wacky’ to mix all these things together but it seems to work and the house is deeply etched with her character.

We trundled on after leaving the house, slightly stunned by it and found ourselves by some tables set outside a restaurant. Ah, beer stop I thought, so we did.

Our next objective was the Alameda De Hercules a long thin open space framed by two tall Roman columns. Impressive they are but today, somewhat spoilt by the setting up of a fun fair for tomorrow, Spain’s National Day.

We headed back home, via the wooden mushrooms and found a great Japanese restaurant where we had a light sushi lunch..(no beer, I know my limit). We’ve had a small siesta and there are actual clouds in the sky. We’re off to El Traga again tonight. Can our stomachs stand such strain? You’ll find out tomorrow…