Granada to Cordoba
27.06.2015 - 13.07.2015 35 °C
Today was like no other. Breakfast was special as it turns out that the Hotel Palau de La Mar was once a monastery so there were gravestones in the courtyard where we ate. We had to order our hot breakfast and it was quite nice.
The bus left at 8.30. There were some people in the group that didn’t wake up as their wakeup call didn’t eventuate. They sleep and snore on the bus all day so I am not sure how they sleep so long at night. The first stop was Alhambra at the top of Sabika Hill. Now, if you have ever played Where in the World is Carmen San Diego – Treasures of Time, you would have remembered being sent to Alhambra to find a clue. The official name for the site is The Alhambra and The Generalife and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Construction of The Alhambra commenced in 1238 by Muhammad 1 al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid Dynasty. Over the centuries, it came under the influence of Catholic monarchs such as Isabella of Castile and Charles V in the 16th century.
Tickets were sold out for the day – a very popular place. You must book ahead to ensure that you can get in. It took us 3 hours to walk the entire palace – 5 kilometre walk they say. Uncle Bill’s stripes appear to be matching up with all this exercise!!! He’s doing very well as it was extremely hot in the sun. We looked at the Palace of the Generalife and its gardens first, led by the local tour guide. The palace’s Arabic background is interesting. The gardens were spectacular and the palace has a view to the valley below no matter where you might be standing. The rose is their symbol so we sniffed many beautiful flowers and snapped many beautiful colours. Once we had finished this section, we crossed to the next section – The Medina, Palace of Charles V, Hall of Kings – to name a few points of interest. The Christian influence in parts was explained. Napoleon destroyed the Medina at one time in history so we were able to see ruins along the way. We stopped at a shop where they made furniture using a type of parquetry skill handed down over the centuries. Regardless of where we were, the carvings and workmanship were amazing.
At midday, we climbed on board our bus for a one and a half hour drive to Malaga. Now, I had no idea of what to expect scenery wise in Spain. The rugged hills that we had followed from Barcelona continued. Believe it or not the scenery was spectacular as the land is farmed so intensively. Both sides of the road were covered with olive and almond trees, immaculately planted and maintained, to the base of these mountains and as far up as possible. Intermingled with the trees were fields of wheat and maize. So, as far as the eye could see, the land was under cultivation. We turned off the motorway and headed up into a mountainous area to the village of Alfarnatejo. The rock in these mountains is pumice, resulting from earthquakes. Once we were in the village we were taken to an almond, honey, fig and honey tasting session. Following that we were divided into smaller groups and were treated to lunch in the homes of local ladies. There were 10 in our group and we were served salad, pumpkin soup, veal and gravy and fruit salad, all prepared by a lovely lady named Virginia.
The next stop was an olive mill. A young Englishman explained the process needed to obtain extra virgin olive oil. This mill also processed wheat and maize. Apparently, there is very little money in Spanish agriculture so the farmers are paid a bonus to keep the farms going. Because the land is so rugged in places, the measurement of land is calculated by how much land a mule can plough in a day. Planting to harvesting would be prohibitive.
We left this very mountainous area and headed for Cordoba. On our arrival at 6pm, the temperature was 35 degrees. Our hotel, Palacio Del Bailio, was an old Roman building that had been converted to a hotel. When standing in the dining room, one could look through glass and see the Roman foundations below. It was a beautiful hotel but we felt that it explained why the Romans lost their battles. Some people could not find their rooms. Ross and my room was out the back on the other side of the garden and pool area. We went to Bill and Denise’s room where the men had a scotch and Denise made a cup of tea. We didn’t go out at all but chose to enjoy the air-conditioning until we went downstairs to a lovely courtyard. We ordered sangria which proved to be delicious. Ross had a cheese salad, Denise and Bill had lovely meat and I ordered oxtail ravioli with mashed potato. Well, the latter was interesting as it did not look anything like ravioli to me and the mashed potato was pink and like a cream!! I asked to make sure I had the right meal. At 10pm, the sun was still up but we decided to go to bed.