Cordoba, Spain and the Olive Country

Granada had a wonderful mixed ambiance of the old and the new which is very inviting, but after two days, it was time to move on to Cordoba for a very brief single-day stop. There would be no overnight stay, just a quick day of touring.


Olive orchards on the way to Cordoba
picture snapped through our speeding bus window

On the way, we traveled through Spain’s premier olive-growing region of Andalusia and of course we made a requisite stop at one of the local olive mills. There were plenty of products for sale and we acquired several tins of the famed olive oil as well as some decorative bottle stoppers.

The grounds had interesting artifacts. Whether they were originals or not, I had no way of knowing, but they were engaging just the same. The picture below is of a large urn for storing part of the season’s olive oil bounty. The metal wheels would most likely be parts of the grinding machinery used to crush the olives.


XXXXXX

This is a view of the beautiful plantings. Notice the urn in the distance.


XXXXXX

After our brief stop, we boarded the bus and arrived in Cordoba. We had a brief lunch and then enjoyed a walk through the historic part of the city which is a delight for anyone who enjoys the beautiful contrast of solid colored building facades (mostly white) generously punctuated with colorful flower-filled pots and planters.


XXXXXX


XXXXXX

We also spent time wandering through city’s historic Jewish Quarter. Casa Pepe de la Juderia is one of the well-known restaurants in this part of town.


XXXXXX

Markers were embedded among the paving stones to differentiate the Jewish Quarter streets.


XXXXXX

Towering over the center of Cordoba, and visible from many streets, are the towers of the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba) which is perhaps the main draw for many tourists and adventurers. The structure is referred to as both a mosque and a cathedral because of its complex history.


he Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba
The Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba

The Torre del Alminar (Minaret Tower) has been converted to the Bell Tower with steps leading to the top for impressive views of Cordoba.

Even before entering the building, an examination of the beautiful exterior details revealed the uniqueness and the age of this Mosque. The nine entrances are referred to as gates; each with a distinct name. I believe this is the Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto.


Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto

Our group began the tour by gathering in the main courtyard.


XXXXXX

The Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba – Which has a unique combination of Christian and Moorish architecture and religious cultures. The original structure had, for a time, dual occupancy with different sections being used by the Visigoth Christians and the Muslims, but was later destroyed to make way for a grand Mosque (Mezquita) constructed over a period of more than 200 years.

In the 13th century, the building was taken over by the Christians and converted into a church. **

** Source

There is a huge columnar prayer hall that is astonishingly beautiful because of the colors and the manner in which the light plays off the surrounding walls, ceilings and floors.


XXXXXX

There are reportedly an excess of 800 columns supporting the structure.


XXXXXX

The picture below is particularly interesting because of the golden hue, the ornate carving and the hanging lights.


XXXXXX

The focal point in the prayer hall is the unusual horse-shoe arched prayer niche or mihrab beautifully painted with exquisite detail. Gold-backed glass was used in the construction and provides some of the striking contrast.**


XXXXXX

** Source

Wherever one looked, there was magnificence on display. The intricate arches were stunning.


XXXXXX

When the Christian rulers gained control of the structure, they took to the task of constructing the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption inside the mosque. This is the High Altar of the main chapel.


XXXXXX

Not to be outdone by all of the detailed artwork of the mosque, the chapel dome is also very ornate…


XXXXXX

As is this nearby ceiling…


XXXXXX

There is a Museum in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption where this gold and green artifact is on display.


XXXXXX

After our visit to the Mosque/Cathedral, we returned to the quaint streets of Cordoba with the mosque peering through the narrow skyscapes.


XXXXXX

Cordoba is also known for its courtyards and during May, there is a courtyard festival:

Every year in May, the city of Cordoba in Andalusia celebrates its famous Courtyards Festival, a tradition which was declared a part of our Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO in 2012 and during which many of the courtyards or “patios” in the historic quarter are open to visitors for a few days. The festival is a competition to discover the most beautiful courtyards in the city, and fills the streets with colour, the scent of jasmine and orange blossom and the strains of flamenco.**

** Source

While this was not part of the festival when we were in town, it was an interesting, colorful courtyard that we were able to admire.


XXXXXX

There was time for one last stop before we headed for the train station and I wanted to see the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) and the Roman Arch Gate which is within easy walking distance of the Mosque.


XXXXXX


XXXXXX

The afternoon shadows were growing long so we made our way to the train station in Cordoba to take the two-hour (+/-) ride to Madrid.

Members of our group served to create a Norman Rockwell moment.


XXXXXX

The bullet train was very sleek and fast! Next Stop Madrid!


XXXXXX


**********



***************
Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Marbella Along the Mediterranean

After being on the road for a number of days, the stop at Marbella was designed as a flex day to allow those who wanted to rest a bit to take a resort-style, relaxing day at the beach! Others could use the day to explore the suburban tourist town of Marbella. Once in our room, we peered out the window to get our first real glimpse of the Mediterranean – part of Spain’s Costa del Sol!


The Mediterranean viewed from the hotel

We arrived late in the afternoon. Although the day had been a long one yet we were excited by the tropical atmosphere Marbella offered. We refreshed a bit and headed for dinner at a very local Italian restaurant practically across the street from our hotel.

Once done, we walked down to the boardwalk for an after dinner stroll. It was a magical evening with the blue water and late day light. After a moderate walk, we went back to the room to get a good rest for explorations the next day!

After a quick breakfast, we were anxious for our next adventure.


Along Marbella's Beachfront

Boardwalks are always interesting because hotels, galleries, small stores and beach-related activities along the path often reveal the unexpected. A sand sculptor was busy at work early in the morning and we stopped to admire his craftmanship.


Sand Sculptor of Children

To be clear, I speak very little Spanish. For some reason, a couple of lessons from my high school years came rushing forth and I was able to conjure several helpful phrases. I approached the sculptor and asked him how long these works would last given the weather and the fragility of the material.


Castle sand sculpture

He explained that they would only remain for two weeks at the most! We proffered a small donation and headed for the main section of town. It was a bit of a walk, but then again, we are walkers!

Along the way we came to Alameda Park located on Av. Ramón y Cajal. We were intrigued by this statue of a girl on a swing that was nearly hidden among the trees.


Girl on a Swing Statue in a tree

There was also a festive, brightly colored carousel nearby, but not yet open for wannabe riders!


A carousel at Almeda park

At some point we missed our target, but being adventurous we forged ahead with map in hand to find local markets, courtyards, churches, etc. As Tolkien said: “Not all those who wander are lost.”


A side street in Marbella


Fancy inlaid stonework in a town square

We enjoyed walking the streets where the locals live and peeking into store windows. As would be expected in a waterfront town, there were a number fish markets.


Fish market window

We continued to be wowed by the beautiful, quaint facades, heavy wooden doorways, …


A pretty house view with plants and wooden door

colorful plantings and exterior adornments!


Colorful house and bougainvillea

As we approached the main center of town, where more tourists were likely to shop, there were the usual merchants and crowds of bargain seekers.


Shoppers along one of the alleyways


Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.
Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.

The fascination of adventuring through these small towns is being able to capture the variety of picturesque scenes such as this unique colorful restaurant.


Pretty restaurant with blue religious statue

Another floral festooned restaurant beckons visitors to “come take a closer look.”


A restaurant entrance

In a nearby square, an impressive array of beach stones were laid on their side to create a floral pattern which framed the larger square pictured below.


closeup view of intricate stonework in a town square


A Town Square of Marbella

Houses, shops and churches find common ground in such enclaves and as tourists walk along looking at the merchandise, they may be enticed to examine the small, unassuming houses of worship that have their own subdued majesty to share.


Small side street of Marbella


Small neighborhood church

We took a brief lunch break and continued our town walk until early evening. There were many more scenes that caught our eye, but I think the pictures above capture the essence of Marbella.

The next day we rode the bus along the hillsides to reach our next destination – Ronda!


A view of the mountains from our bus
photographed from our moving tourist coach!


**********


***************
Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Desert T-Shirts

Living in what I call a designated tourist area such as Phoenix, Arizona has both positive and negative aspects. Of course during those months that are cold in a good part of the United States and Canada, we have an influx of tourists, part-time residents and guests.

When guests come to visit us, one of the areas we like to take them is Old Town Scottsdale. There are some historical attractions which we look at, but the gift shops of all varieties are the real draw.

As the resident Phoenician, I get a kick out of going to the tourist shops to see what new desert themed T-shirts are displayed. They generally come in two categories, 1 – The beauty or uniqueness of the desert or 2 – Poking fun at the unusual life styles and/or environment of the desert.

The t-shirt below reminds us of the beautiful wildlife we have in the area. We do have some extraordinary lizards, although nothing quite like the one pictured.

XXXXXX

Of course Phoenix is a big draw as well as Scottsdale…

XXXXXX

And to celebrate the heritage and uniqueness of the desert…

XXXXXX

Then there are those that make fun of the harsh environment and cowboy atmosphere and this one tackles both…
XXXXXX

115 degrees is hot, but c’mon it beats 30 inches of snow, doesn’t it?

One of my favorites this day was this punful one…

XXXXXX

All of these T-shirts were found at Scottsdale Southwest Gifts and Apparel just north of the Scottsdale Historical Museum on the same side of the street.

XXXXXX

I am not making a recommendation although I have made purchases there. Many stores offer unique apparel both authentic southwest as well as humorous or stylized southwest items.

When you visit Scottsdale’s Old Town, be sure to bring your camera and your sense of humor. I am sure you will have a good time. Don’t forget the Scottsdale Historical Museum in the center of Old Town.