May 13. Walking to the Sevilla train station, we were surprised how quiet it was in the residential areas - surely some people have to work! It was a short train trip to Córdoba which used to be the Islamic capital of the Iberian peninsula and is a narrow streeted , white washed town. The primary attraction here is the Mezquita - or Mosque Cathedral. The great mosque was built 784 to 987 under Muslim rule and then in 1236 Córdoba was captured by the Christians and fortunately, instead of destroying the mosque, they added to it, creating the building that stands today. The huge main hall has over 850 double arched red and white columns that support the high roof - quite the sight. Further in, there are the “standard” features expected in a Christian church. It was quite strange though seeing two distinctly religious styles in the same building.
The Córdoba Patios Festival and contest was also on while we were there with its associated hordes of tourists. Many houses are built around a central courtyard and during this festival, those courtyards that are included in the contest are extravagantly decorated with flowers - mostly geraniums in the
two that we visited. The good thing about the festival is that the patios are open to visitors as normally you can just peer through the gates. The tour groups did get a bit out of hand though as they frequently clogged up the narrow streets making it almost impossible to navigate through.
Overall a short but very enjoyable visit to Córdoba- it sure was hot though with an air temperature of 36 degrees which did not take into account the cobbled streets and stone houses.
May 14 and it is now time to leave the region of Andalucía and head north to Catalonia and the city of Barcelona. At the train station, there was actually a security check point (luggage X-ray) before being allowed on to the platform. Most of our train bookings had been done in advance using loco2.com
and booking the ticket from Córdoba to Barcelona caused some confusion as there were two trains leaving at exactly the same time, different numbers and different prices. Investigation showed that yes, two trains came in from different destinations and then hooked together to travel as one to Barcelona. We were in the very end carriage of this
very long train. 5 hours later we arrived in Barcelona Sants and then it was a case of navigating the metro system to the Gràcia neighbourhood. We figured that between both of us we would have at least 8 metro trips while in Barcelona so bought the T10 multipass - good for 10 trips and we could both use it. So much more civilized than the one user at a time card in Vancouver. We are getting smart now too, and making note of the end station on the metro lines we will be using so we know which direction subway train to take. Coming above ground at the Joanic station on line 4, it was a short walk uphill to our hotel Best Price Gràcia. Oh yes..... and some guy tried to pick pocket Kelly AGAIN!!!!
Having only two nights in Barcelona, we had decided to focus on Gaudi - the Spanish architect who is known for his Modernism style. As our hotel was are only a few minutes walk from Parc Guell we made that our first stop. This is a public park which has a ticketed “monument” zone that was designed by Gaudi. It was too
long a wait to get in but we got brief glimpses while wandering around the free part of the park. Hmmm..... maybe we will pass on this one. Apparently entry is free after 9pm and we DO return to Barcelona for one night.......
The next day was our one full day in the city and we had tickets for Gaudis’ Casa Batllo and the Sagrada Familia. We walked to the area known as Eixample pretty early and were first in line for our 9:15am ticketed time at the Casa Batllo on Passeig de Gràcia. The house was renovated in 1904 by Gaudi for the Batllo family - and all I can say is Google it as I cannot even begin to describe how fantastic it was inside (and out). For the visit we were given an audio guide which explained what we were seeing as well as a visual guide (tablet) which showed us each room as if they were furnished. A fabulous place to visit. Probably the only downside of the visit was that much of the outside was covered in scaffolding as it is being restored. Hopefully the scaffolding will be down in 10 days when we
Our visit to Sagrada Familia was scheduled for 4:30pm but we aimed to be there by 4pm as the guy at the hotel recommended walking around the outside in order to fully appreciate the inside. So, we had a lot of time to kill. A stroll down La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian street, that stretches for 1.2 kilometres took us to La Boqueria, a huge public market where we finally managed to find smoked paprika. Then it was off to the Barri Gothic, the gothic quarter, but by now, it was just another gothic are - been there, seen that so we did not dally too long. Probably if Barcelona had been our arrival point in Spain, we would have appreciated it more.
By the time we walked to the Sagrada, there was a wickedly cold wind blowing and we spent a lot of time visiting souvenir shops trying to stay warm. Some history of the Sagrada from Wikipedia: “Gaudi took over the design in 1883 and he worked on it until he died (run over by a street car). At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the building was finished
but he left very detailed drawings and plans. The expected finish date is 2026.”
The outside is bizarre to say the least - extremely ornate in the craziest ways. Whereas the inside is relatively plain which is quite the opposite to most churches. Although saying that the inside is “plain” is also misleading. The pillars represent a forest while the stained glass windows on the east side are blues and greens (representing the cool of the morning) and those on the west side are reds and oranges (sunset). Google it.
We are in the province of Catalonia for the rest of our trip. This region attempted to become independent in 2018. They have their own version of Spanish as compared to the regular Castilian Spanish in the rest of the country which is kind of similar - but different. We were to also find that French was spoken fairly readily as we are so close to the French border. Next stop is Girona and the start of our 7 day cycle trip in the Costa Brava
Tot: 0.439s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 9; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0136s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb