Waiter: You can have the Continental or the Big Breakfast which has jacket, fruit, orange juice –
Mirinda: It has what?
Waiter: Big Breakfast it has jacket, fruit –
Mirinda: What is ‘Jacket?’
Waiter: I do not understand. It is Jacket.
Mirinda: Jacket? What does it mean? I mean what is it?
Waiter: (starting to look a bit frenzied and well out of his depth) Jacket!!!
Anonymous Voice: Yoghurt.
Mirinda: Ah, yoghurt! Right. Okay. Now what else is in the Big Breakfast?
Not the best start to our final morning in Granada but it did improve. I managed to pose for quite a few Chinese tourists from our bedroom window as they strolled down towards the Nazrid Palace and Mirinda popped down to the Carlos V monstrosity for a last look while I packed.
Then a taxi was summoned (he arrived in five minutes…really) and the nice chap took us to the bus station for our next adventure. We were crossing Andalucia and heading for Cordoba.
The coach was another journey through endless olive trees. (There really is a ridiculous amount of olive trees in southern Spain. I’m surprised the market can support so many.) We also spotted a few castles on hills surrounded by white houses but I’m fairly certain these were not the famous White Towns of which we will discuss later on our travels. Like when we visit two of them.
We arrived at Cordoba five minutes ahead of schedule which amazed me given the slow pace we maintained because of roadworks and trucks and car carriers hindering our progress at every turn. But we did and were duly left to find our way into the old part of the town and our oddly named hotel. We then met the maddest taxi driver in the world.
I wish I knew his name because he truly deserves immortalising for his death defying driving skills – not his death, mind you, but those of the pedestrians we almost squished against the walls of the houses along the very narrow roads (make that alleys) of the old town. Seriously. I could have opened my window and become intimately acquainted with any number of tourists without moving out of the cab.
If you imagine a normal taxi then imagine it driving down a narrow road with an inch either side with people hurling themselves into doorways, flattening themselves against doors, you kind of get the idea.
Because I didn’t get his name, I’m going to call him Hector.
While Hector was trying to squash as many people as possible, he was talking on the phone to someone in a very animated fashion. This was odd because the guy on the other end was quite calm and measured. Afterwards Mirinda told me she thought he was talking to the taxi in front of us which was also out hunting tourists. Of course it was all in rapid Spanish so we had no idea what was going on.
Anyway, after a hilarious drive, Hector pulled up outside our hotel and with a smile and an ‘adios’ he disappeared back up the tiny alley, leaving us to check-in.
After checking out the room and leaving our suitcases to fend for themselves, we hit the town for some lunch. And would you believe it, we only ended up in one of the best restaurants in Cordoba! According to the Rough Guide anyway. The food was rather good though they served beer in whisky glasses which is a bit odd.
After lunch we went for a bit of a wander when Mirinda found a tiny silver guitar and I found a museum dedicated to the Spanish Inquisition and all manner of ways of torturing people.
Actually, the museum was ghastly and I couldn’t visit all six rooms because there’s only so many evil devices of inhumanity that one person can look at, whereas Mirinda’s tiny silver guitar was an absolute delight. Oh, I should add that Mirinda did not come into the Inquisition Museum with me. I left her to wander around listening to a guitarist and so forth.
It was then about time to visit the one thing that Cordoba is truly known for: the Mezquita. This was firstly a Visigoth basilica dedicted to Saint Vincent in the sixth century AD. There was probably an earlier Roman church there as well but there appears to be nothing left of it.
Secondly, the Moors arrived and built a mosque on top of the basilica. The mosque featured an astounding collection of columns which mirrored the trees in the outside garden when the light streamed in, creating a sort of inside/outside effect (like our extension but a bit bigger and more Islamic). This mosque was added to by subsequent Moorish rulers until they were turfed out by the Catholics.
Finally, rather than pull it down, the Catholics turned it into a cathedral (which it still is) by plonking a massive great central section in between a load of the columns. It is a tremendously ugly thing inside a thing of great beauty. Even Carlos V, who had it built, claimed they’d done a really stupid thing. One feels that he could have said something before they built it but then he wasn’t known for his taste.
So the result is an extraordinary marriage between the two faiths.
Like all marriages, it has it’s good and bad bits. Above is a good bit. Below is a bad bit.
Obviously the second photo could be any Catholic cathedral, anywhere and looks quite lovely. However, when you plonk it down in the middle of a forest of columns striped in red and white, it really starts looking quite grotesque. Separating the two is the best thing one could do.
Having never heard of the Mezquita before today, we were thrilled to visit something so incredible. Also it’s another World Heritage site so that’s even better.
After stopping at a conveniently located taberna for a cool drink (the weather continues hot and sunny) we took the very long way back to our hotel, pausing to cross the Roman Bridge while a woman played Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on her cello beneath a big arch, completely mesmerising a random toddler.
Before reaching our hotel we made one final stop, buying tickets to see a flamenco show tonight. It was then, finally, time for our prevening siesta.
It was a jolly good job that we had a bit of a rest because the flamenco was exhausting. Here is how we looked at the beginning…
And here we are 90 minutes later…
It really was tremendous. So much better than the tourist flamenco we saw in Madrid. Anyone who wants to see the real thing, needs to come to the Carmen Gastro Flamenco at Tablao Flamenco and just enjoy! Tell the over zealous girl on the door that Aussie Gaz sent you.