A Travellerspoint blog

Cordoba


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

We had a good train ride into Cordoba and caught up with a female couple from San Francisco we had met in Granada. We took a bus to the old part of town and just next to the bus stop was a fantastic organic, neo-hippy type of coffee shop run by a young couple with a daughter, with delicious salads, toasties and coffee. We then went on to find our accommodation, Hotel Plateros in Seneca Square (named after the Roman emperor). After checking in, we went for a walk around the old town of Cordoba, where we had a tapas dinner with this gorgeous dish of potatoes, fried egg and balsamic vinegar. The next day we went into the Mesquita (mosque) which was first a church, then was converted into a mosque, before becoming a catherdral after the reconquest of Cordoba by the Christians in the 13th century. We walked around the Jewish quarter and visited one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. The Alcazar was worth seeing but nothing to be compared with the Alhambra in Granada. Cordoba was the best culinary destination on our travels in Spain. A wounderful blend of Andalusion Spainish and North African cultures. Chris organised a night out at a Flamenco dinner show that was really special. Our favourite dish was salmorejo a local variation of gazpacho soup. The host was very generous and a fine flamenco guitar singer. A beautiful Spanish woman sang in a way that was so expressive and heart rendering. Cordoba was a nice way to end our stay in Southern Spain before moving onto the North East of Spain - Barcelona.

Posted by CJTaylor 11:29 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Ronda


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

We Took a train from Granada south and west to Ronda. Ronda is a small city in a rural area, and is famous for it's bridge - Puente Nuevo (or New Bridge). We stayed right in the old city at Hotel Ronda. In Ronda we went into an old Arab bathhouse, and down into an abandoned mine which was also used as a fort. The mine went right down into the canyon where turquoise water of the river ran through. We also went down the other side of the mountain to look at the waterfall and river running under the New Bridge. On the way down, we saw a snake winding through some cool damp rocks. To get down to the water, you needed to climb down some rocks using a rope tied to a tree. Chris did it but Jade was too scared and wasn't able to reach the rocks with her foot. The next day we went for a walk out into the country side, which was hot, sunny, dry and hilly. The road ran along small farms and we were impressed by the very old looking olive trees. Spanish olive oil is top stuff. We enjoyed a nice vegetable paella, and Chris ate a bulls tail. Unfortuantely, we had a bit of a stressful time, when we found out about a national transportation strike and were refused tickets at the train station to get to Cordoba. So for a day, there was no way out of Ronda unless you had your own car. Luckily we were able to stay an extra night at Hotel Ronda and then make our way to Cordoba.

Posted by CJTaylor 08:12 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Granada


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

The bus trip from Madrid to Granada in the South of Spain (the Andalucia region) was very comfortable - Chris read Bill Bryson's Thunderbolt Kid and Jade read Colleen Mccullough's Thornbirds. When we arrived in Granada there were crowds of young people at the bus station and later it seemed as though it was the start of semester at the University of Granada. We took a local bus and then walked to our accommodation - Hostal Lima - where we would stay for 3 nights. The owners were proudly Spanish, and the hotel lavishly decorated - http://www.hostallimagranada.com/en/habitacioneshostallimagranada.php

The breakfasts there were very good and included gazpacho soup eaten with toasted bread roll slices and the most delectable olive oil. In Granada, we walked around the city, admired the Moorish architecture and gardens and enjoyed the warm weather. The main highlight of our visit was the Alhambra, a Moorish Palace taken by the Spanish Catholics in 1492. With the most beautiful gardens which contained thousands of roses and kilometres of open water aquaducts, and large goldfish in ponds. The Nasrid Palaces in the Alhambra were like walking into another world. In Granada, we also went the Monastary of Cartuja, built in the 14th century in a Baroque style. It contained paintings of monks with firearms, axes in their heads, and monks being dismembered. The church within the monastary was massive and highly ornate with large marble altars and fine wooden structures. The atmosphere there was quite heavy and somewhat sinister, with overtures to Spain's violent religious past. The area around the monastary was dry and dusty, and gave you the feeling that you could be in Mexico, on the look out for a Desparado. In Granada we also liked wandering around the tight, winding streets in the Moorish area where you can sample the hookah pipe.

Posted by CJTaylor 09:52 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Madrid


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

We took a train from Bordeaux to Madrid, stopping at the Basque town of Irun. The train went through the Pyrenees Mountains. We got into Madrid at 10pm, and took the easy to manage metro to our accommodation - Hostal America. One difference between France and Spain, is that the Spanish seem to be more laid back and less image concious. There is a cosmopolitan mix of people including a South American and Filippino population. The next day we looked around and did a walking tour. Chris got his beard trimmed and hair cut at the oldest barber in Madrid. Madrid has numerous brick buildings painted in yellow, orange and red filling the inner city. We found it strange at first getting used to the opening hours of busineses to take into account siesta. The busiest part of the day seems to be between 8pm and midnight. Jade quickly took to this lifestyle, having a siesta during the afternoon and then staying up until late. On our second day in Madrid we continued to explore the city, joining another walking tour, where we were shown bars that had been continually operating for over 150 years, and the old financial centre which boasts many grand 18th and 19th century government buildings. In the evening we went into the Prado museum (free after 6pm) which houses some of Spains best paintings including those of Goya. On our way back to our hotel, we walked through the main park in central Madrid, which is laid out in a series of formal gardens with many monuments throughout. The next day we headed to the bus station where we caught a bus south to Granada.

Posted by CJTaylor 09:39 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Bordeaux


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

We took a train from Saint Malo to Bordeaux, passing through Rennes and Nantes. When arriving in Bordeaux, we took a tram to our accommodation - ResidHotel - which turned out to be a relatively cheap little apartment with a kitchenette. Bordeaux definately has more of a Mediterranean feel, and had some warm, balmy weather. Many people visit Bordeaux for the wine tasting or to visit the prehistoric caves near Dordogne, but unfortunately we weren't able to do so because of Jade being sick with her infected tooth - she was bedridden for 4 days. We contacted our travel insurance, who in turn put us in contact with an English speaking dentist. The dentist turned out to be somebody else who didn't actually speak English, but with sign language and an x-ray managed to confirm that it was indeed an infected wisdom tooth and prescribed antibiotics. Jade may need to have the lower wisdom teeth out back in Australia, but she is adamant that her jaw is still growing (it is now October and one of the teeth have come through). We decided to make tracks for Spain, first stop Madrid. A shorter than expected stay in France (hampered by the fact that France's tourist season in September is still high season and very expensive), but we look forward to returning in the future. On an intersting note, whilst waiting at the train station in Bordeaux to take the train into Spain, we noticed a film crew who were filming a Chinese movie. Later on Jade recognised Dominique Pignon (hard to miss a face like his), a French actor who we have seen in movies such as Amelie and Roman De Gare. He didn't seem to have anything to do with the Chinese film though.

Posted by CJTaylor 11:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

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