Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #33 C�rdoba, Andaluc�a
We drive along the coast for a while but then inland and finally cross the Rio Guadalquivir bridge to return to Spain and say good-bye to Portugal. Immediately my cell phone starts showing the Movistar letters and works again for calls out. We also lost the hour we gained two weeks ago. Finally the clock on the car tells the right time. We finally reach the outskirts of Sevilla and pass around it to continue northeast to arrive in C�rdoba. Marcia was nice to drive the whole 225 miles for 4 hours since she knew I was feeling miserable. As we arrived into the center of the old city and approached the central landmark, the Mezquita (Mosque) (mesh-key-tah). There is a one way road around the huge square walls and the GPS instructed us to go the wrong way. After dodging the oncoming cars, we finally had to turn around and go the other way. We then easily arrived at the El Conquistador which is a very nice hotel directly across the street from the Mezquita (photo). I hadn't run because I felt so bad in the morning so I had to do it now. It was 9:00 and darkening but I ran around the Mezquita and then through the really neat little streets of the old town (photos) and found the most famous restaurant in Cordoba, El Churrasco. After getting Marcia, we walked around the town and had a tapas and wine at Casa Pepe el de la Juder�a near the Mezquita. Marcia finally found a wine she doesn't like, so I asked the waiter for something else for her. She liked what he replaced it with and I was stuck with both of the originals. After two more sips, I gave up and asked for what Marcia had. The waiter said "too fruity". I said "Yeah", not knowing what he meant. We had interesting tapas that were good but noticed a man eating something interesting. When I asked the waiter, he told us it was flamanquin (flah-man-keen) and the man volunteered that it was fabulous. It is veal rolled around ham and cheese then deep-fried. We moved on and went to El Churrasco but had to wait for a table. We ordered glasses of white wine and again the stuff was horrible. So we asked for something else. As it turns out, the big thing here in Andaluc�a (an-do-loo-sea-ah) is their special wine called sherry and we have discovered that we do not like it (fruity or not). Most of it is made in Jerez (hair-esh) and the English slurred "Jerez" into "sherry" giving it its name. We were finally seated up on the classier second floor and the setting was very nice as was the service. I had a potato omelet which was a big wedge of eggs and potatoes. I was able to get ostrich again. Marcia had artichokes and sole. After leche frita for dessert, we were the last people out of the place. A leisurely walk through the dark streets back to the hotel was wonderful. It was very warm here even late at night. Got to bed around 2 AM but there was no CNN at this hotel so I watched the news in Spanish.
I jumped up at 10 AM to beat the insufferable heat and ran around the Mezquita, down through the old city in a different direction past a huge courtyard that used to be a Roman forum when the city was called Cordubis and then to a ruins of a Roman temple. I went back to the forum area and looked in the many shops and markets then relaxed with a cortado and a copy of the Herald Tribune. I got a call from Irene that she had arrived in Cordoba and was at the other hotel 10 minutes from us (where we were originally booked) and we'd meet at our hotel in 20 minutes. On the way back, it was one of the rare times I actually got lost. I knew this after 15 minutes of walking I arrive back at the Roman temple. So I give up and pull out my city map from my bellypack (which I always get at the hotel before I go for a run.) I finally figured out what I did wrong to screw up my mental compass and got back to the hotel. When I arrive Irene is there so we have some coffee while waiting for Marcia to come down. She arrived and they had lunch while I showered and changed. We then headed to tour the Mezquita. This was originally built as a mosque in 785-7 by the caliph, Abd ar-Rahman, who conquered the southern part of Spain and set up the kingdom of al-Andalus in the Umayyad emirate in the year 756. He was trying to separate his kingdom from that in the east and to lure Muslim pilgrims, he built this huge mosque and claimed to have in it the arm of Mohammed to compete with the pilgrimage to Mecca. Later caliphs added great size to it and Cordoba become the largest city in Europe with great fame, wealth and culture. The great, famous Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides was here. He became the personal physician to Saladin in Palestine. When the area was finally recaptured by Castilla (the Spaniards) in 1247, the King allowed reluctantly for them to build a Catedral in the center of the mosque in the 16th Century. That is why it is still called the Mosque or Mezquita. After passing through the portal gates, you enter a large garden called the Patio de los Naranjos with many orange and lime trees but not enough to protect you from the blistering sun. You do anything to get into the shade. We went inside and it is really incredible. The beautiful Arabic architecture with arches on top of arches (photos) is something to behold as they seem to stretch for miles. Most of it has been kept intact including the beautiful area that used to display the Koran (photo). It is a strange mix of Muslim and Christian in one place. It is not hard to be troubled by the fact that it is the same fanaticism for Islam that allowed the Moors to conquer Spain, that also contributed to NYC, 1300 years later. I tried to fight the urge to hate those people and what they stand for.
The good thing about ancient Islam is that they always tolerated and protected the Jews (funny, compared to today). The area near the Mezquita is called the Juder�a (Jewish section). There are many shops here so that's what we did to stay out of the sun. As it began to darken, Irene took us for a carriage ride around the old and new city. Except for the fact the carriage didn't have any springs on that cobblestone road, it was very enjoyable. We would only do this with Irene because she could translate for us what sights the driver was pointing out. She then took us to dinner at the 2nd best place in Cordoba, Bodega Campos where we enjoyed a lovely dinner together. I had bacalao (dried salt cod) with a special orange color Andaluc�an sauce called salmoneja. It was OK. We had steaks for entree but mine was raw so after asking for 2 recooks, it finally came out as you might expect, well-done. Well so much for that, the company was great as was the rioja wine. During dinner, Irene cancelled Manuel's reservation at the Meli� Confort in Sevilla and booked us in the best hotel there, Alfonso XIII, based on her mother's recommendation. We walked all the way back to the hotel, found the where the internet hostel was, and got to bed at 4 AM.
A dream woke me up at 7:40 AM and by 10 AM I was out beating the sun again. It was surprisingly cool with a breeze in the early part of the day, great to do a run, but miserable and unbearably hot in the afternoon. I think I get the idea behind this SIESTA thing. I ran around the Mezquita again and then across the old Roman bridge across the Rio Guadalquivir. I then went to Mass in the Catedral in the center of the Mezquita and then we met Irene again at the hotel. She took us to the 3rd place in Cordoba, El Caballo Roja (the Red Horse), for lunch with Dr. Guillermo Almenara and his wife. He is a professor ophthalmologist in Cordoba and his daughter is an eye surgeon as well (photo). He speaks no English, but he is a very nice fellow and we enjoyed the time together. I brought my SONY computer and showed him how to do my new pigment vacuum iridectomy for the PRL surgery he was beginning next week for the first time. I had bull's tail for lunch and it was good. You need to use your fingers if you only want to eat the meat. It reminds me of Osso Buco. The other assortment of little dishes were excellent. Of the 3 restaurants, I would say this was the best. King Juan Carlos eats here when in town. The doctor took us to his home to use his computer for email but I don't think it went through. The internet place earlier doesn't let you get to the floppy drive - so no pictures.
We could have done more exploring in Cordoba, but I felt so miserable and it was so hot, I hate to say it but I just wanted to go. So we finally left this interesting city, heading west to Sevilla.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #34
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
PHOTOS: 33C�rdobaA 33C�rdobaB
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