A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

The Views of Moorish Spain - Cordoba and Granda

Stunning historical cities combined with magnificent views.

Cordoba was a whirlwind visit where we stayed in a gorgeous hotel. The room was beautiful and I wished we had stayed longer. We visited Cordoba to see the famous Mezquita–catedral de Córdoba (Mosque- Cathedral of Cordoba). Before heading to this amazing site we had a stunning lunch of oxtail croquettes and the famous Cordoba dish flamenquin. Flamenquin is ham wrapped pork which is then crumbed and fried. Both were was stunning and delicious.

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The mosque cathedral's history is interesting and complex. The place is still considered a cathedral today rather than a mosque and muslims are not allowed to pray in it. The mosque was made on the site of a church by the Arabs when they occupied the area. The mosque was continually made larger to accommodate the growing number of Muslims and with each new ruler. The centre of the mosque was converted to a catholic cathedral when the area was invaded by Christians. The reason this place is stunning is that the remainder of the mosque is intact around the central cathedral.

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It was stunning going through and to learn how the mosque became massive in size due to the additions made with each new leader. Most parts of the mosque have a specific meaning. The poles in the original mosque (not one of the add ons) are from the church that was there before the mosque was built. The add ons followed the same structure as the original. The fusion of the two showed the similarities as well as difference and how religions can fuse but be so different. When you walk in you see the poles and arches for what seems forever. It is a magnificent sight.

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We also went through the Alcazar castle in Cordoba. Theres something about being high in a castle that makes you feel a little like a princess. We stood at the top of the tower overlooking the river and the gardens. The gardens were great. There was a pomegranate tree overflowing with fruit. I was pretty envious we couldn't get the fruit as they looked so ripe and delicious. Cordoba is known for it's festival of patios, an annual event when all the flowers are in bloom. I'd love to be there for that. I'm sure it would be beautiful!

Dinner was a disaster, a food disaster... I can't remember the last time we had one on our trip so I guess it was good to have a reality cheek. Dry potatoes drenched in garlic aioli. (There was double the amount of sauce the compared to the amount of potatoes...garlic soup with a side of potatoes may have been a better description on the menu). I think that it was topped off by Lewis' dessert of triple chocolate tart. What came out was a pool of chocolate sauce with whipped cream and a shard of dark chocolate . I was hysterical when they explained that it indeed was what we had ordered... I wish I had taken a picture to show how pathetic this looked. I think I laughed the whole time that he picked at it (yes I had had a glass of wine).

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The next day we arrived in Granada, we opted to walk to our hotel as it was only a few kilometres from the train station; little did we know that it was at the top of a hill, a kilometre walk up a hill with a 20kg pack and uneven cobbles. It was a mission but we made it to our hotel which was an old converted Moorish house with the open balcony in the centre. We headed down the road for more tapas (meatballs in tomato sauce) to recover after our hike and saw the amazing views of the Alhambra from the St. Nicholas church lookout.

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That evening I had planned a wine and olive oil tasting dinner at a local shop. This wasn't a restaurant it was Francisco cooking while showcasing different oils and wine. We started with the olive oil tasting. The idea was the oil was meant to coat your stomach so you absorb less alcohol while drinking through the evening with all the courses. I hoped it worked! We tried four different types of oil. One sweet, one more strong, one a mixture of 10 different olives and lastly an unfiltered fresh olive oil from this season's harvest. They were all seem delicious and surprisingly tasted quite different. The sweet had no strong olive after taste. The stronger had a peppery taste and the fresh a very strong olive taste. We had a sparkling sweet wine to start. We accompanied this with three different pates with crackers. The wine broke the creaminess and was delicious. This was followed by fresh asparagus with mayo and lettuce with a chickpea mint paste. We had another three different wines, each wine had at least three accompaniments. It was an amazing night. The mans love for food and wine came through in his food. I was pretty excited when he brought out a cherimoya (what he is holding in the photo). My uncle has a tree at home so it was exciting to see something familiar yet exotic at the same time. Francisco gave us an amazing and insightful night out. He obviously got hugs as we left.

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The next morning it was an early start to get to the Alhambra. The palace and grounds are grand...Even more grand than what I was expecting. We went through the palace admiring the mosaics, design and courtyards. The court of lions fountain has recently been restored and when they went to put it back together they couldn't make the original pump work again, they had to put in an electronic one. It's pretty amazing how advanced the technology was and such a shame so much of the knowledge that was documented was burnt by the Christian invaders of that time.

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We went through the ruins and towers while heading to the Generalife summer palace and gardens. This was a smaller palace but still beautiful. Lastly it was the fort area to see the barrack ruins and up the bell tower for the views. We headed home grabbing hot chocolate and churros on the way to warm us up from the cold icy winds.

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That night we went on an adventure walk. I was a little sad as I wouldn't call what we did adventure at all but it was nice to see areas we hadn't seen before. We walked the streets of Albaycin before heading to Sacromonte to see the illegal (transit) cave homes as well as now legal posh cave houses. Sacromonte was the area where the Indian gypsies settled in Granada. The legal houses now have water and power. The kitchen and bathroom are usually in an outer part of the house outside of the cave. The area is famous for where their version of flamenco started. We walked along a bush trail to where the sultan cried as he escaped from the Alhambra when it was conquered. He cried knowing he'd never go back. It was the last Moorish area in Spain that was conquered. We headed out again to more free tapas. This time we had meatballs and croquettes.

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The next morning we'd organised a four hour bike. The bike was stunning and really was what made our time in Granada extraordinary. We ended up having just us and our awesome Irish guide, Andy on our tour. It was a beautiful and the most relaxing morning. We went over 25km up and down the hills around Granada city enjoying the stunning scenery. I have to say I was pretty happy we were on e-bikes for those hills. As I have mentioned before e-bikes have a motor so when you choose too (like going up the hill) you can get assistance. You're still pedalling and doing work but the bike can do up to 2/3's of the work for you. It is a most excellent invention. We had magical views of the mountains (covered in snow. It had snowed in the hills on the icy day before).

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We also had views of Granada. We did some basic mountain biking along trails on our way back. I was sad when it over. Andy was awesome and the bike spectacular. Yet again it was being out of the city and seeing the stunning landscape that had made our trip in that area.
We had hot roasted ham sandwiches for lunch. Yum!!

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Dinner was at a local wine bar. The wine was stunning, the free tapas delicious and the ordered toast magic. It was some of the best pork that I have had! (this is saying a lot as we have eaten a lot of pork in Spain!)
Our last day we headed to the Arab Bath for some TLC. It was the same as Seville - warm, hot and cold pools with a sauna and hot rocks but just not quite as pretty. The massages were great. It was a heavenly and relaxing afternoon. We managed to get up to one of our bike viewpoints as the sunset. The views of the city lights were stunning. It was back to the same wine bar for pork fillet and asparagus toast and meatballs for dinner. It was yet again delicious.

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Granada is beautiful. It has so much varied history and the free tapas are definitely a tradition they shouldn't loose. The area around Granada is yet another area l would love to come back and explore more. I have the feeling the natural beauty of the area maybe just as stunning as the city itself.

Posted by chellebelle 09:28 Archived in Spain Tagged food views alhambra spa free tapas pork moorish stunning ebike Comments (0)

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