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Published: October 26th 2011
Then we cut south. We headed into Andalucia, Córdoba
in particular. Straight down the deck really, but not all that far – sort of Darwin to a b it south of Katherine, and the scenery was similarly dry.
Except for the olives.
Olive trees. Everywhere were olives. Seriously, a sea of olive trees. For hours, as far as the eye could see. A tear welled up in my eye as I though about all of those olives. Spain and me, we were going to get along just fine.
And everywhere solar farms – an intelligent option in this sun drenched country. And many different types. The majority were photovoltaic, but there were also quite a few CSP plants using parabolic troughs, and at least one with a solar tower. Impressive. Spain has one of the highest concentrations of the things in the world. Sure, the country's broke – but at least they'll have power to watch football on the telly while they eat all their ham and olives.
The campsite was called El Brillante, and it was a reasonable price and not a very long walk from town. It turned out to have dirt, not the grass
the camping book promised. But...it wasn't rock. We managed to get there early enough to score a good spot. A patch of dirt a tiny bit better than the next patch. We still managed to bend some pegs on sneakily hidden rocks, but the tent went up okay.
We had arrived in Córdoba too early for Burro Rock, and too late for the International Guitar Festival. Terrible timing, so we would have to make do with the sights.
The thing to see in Córdoba is the mosque. Well, it used to be a mosque. Now it's a cathedral, but, in my book, it was built by the Moors, so it's a mosque. Whatever flavour you like, it's reputed to be one of the best examples of Moorish architecture, rivalling even the Blue Mosque of Istanbul.
And it was certainly impressive. Stepping out of the baking street, past the Roma ladies hassling you to buy some sort of twig, and into the orange garden was the first step. As the mosque itself was now a church, being a Sunday, it was closed for visits until the arvo. We briefly contemplated crossing ourselves respectfully and stepping inside anyway, but
one look at us would have revealed our godlessness to the least devout Catholic. We deferred.
We checked out the rest of the old city, wandering from place to place until we found ourselves in an oasis of cool - a little restaurant off a side street where we had a decent lunch.
The best finds were made by Klaire. She was constantly darting off down side alleys, looking for shops I think. One in particular looked uninspiring to being with – a nondescript entrance, a shop selling local art. The short passageway suddenly opened into an amazing patio – beautifully shaded and cool, with walls adorned with plants and flowers of many kinds.
A good city to explore, so we did. Another very important place, at one stage - in the tenth and eleventh centuries - this joint was the biggest and most important city in the world; a centre of culture and learning, so there was no shortage if interesting stuff to see. Then, it was time for the mosque.
Stepping inside put of the searingly bright Spanish summer was, quite simply, a revelation. I longed to take my double pluggers off and feel
the cool polished stone on my bare feet. So I did, sneakily, for a bit. Nice, very nice.
Standing in the queue for tickets just before that I had felt my disappointment growing – there were going to be too many people in there to really enjoy it. Once inside, though, the other people seemed to disappear, lost among the masses of columns inside the huge mosque. You still had to be a photo ninja, timing a shot perfectly so that fat bloke was behind a column and that bloody short lady hadn't walked in it yet.
But it still felt huge, and cool, and soothingly quiet.
The columns and arches stretched for a hundred metres in every direction, and the decoration was exquisite. Definitely not Another Bloody Church this one.
But it was a church – a fact brought painfully and jarringly home when you made it to the centre of the mosque. Here the Catholic stuff – out of place, garish in comparison to the rest of the building, and verging on the ugly. I was glad the Catholics hadn't ruined the rest of the place.
The temperature outside had climbed once we
emerged, and we had to find a place to watch the final day of the Tour de France. We tried a multitude of pubs and....nothing. Everyone was watching the formula one.
We met back up with the older travellers and finally found a place on the square who were only to happy to turn off a repeat of a pre-season La Liga repeat and put on the tour. Well, all but the young bloke behind the counter who cast sullen glances at the small group of Australian sports fans.
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