Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tuesday (Cordoba to Sevilla)...

Began the day bright and early with the royal Alcazar and its walled gardens. The building itself housed tapestries and mosaics. A highlight was the tower...not a high tower...just high enough to provide interesting views of the gardens and the city. The gardens were beautiful, with tiered pools and foutains. A historic gravity-fed irrigation system ran throughout the entire garden...bricked trenches that carried water to every corner. Watched gardeners move metal "gates" that directed rivers of water into specific gardens...sunken to absorb pools of water for deep irrigation.

Visited the only surviving synagogue predating the forced-conversion of non-Christians by the Catholic monarchs. A tiny gem...the synagogue was primarily one room with mosaics and inscriptions. We learned that this one of only three surviving synagogues in Spain from that era...the other two in Toledo...which we had visited days before.

Time to leave Cordoba. Ducked into the Mezquita courtyard (free) to wander the rows of orange trees. Watched a row of trees getting their morning soak with another gravity-fed irrigation system that fed deep roots. Took a breezy walk to the train station.

The AVE train zipped us to Sevilla in less than 45 minutes. Dropping further along the Guadalquivir River, we passes dry grasses and squat orange trees. The monitor read 250kph. Hibee to Sevilla.

Arrived at the perfectly situated EME Catedral Hotel...aptly named for its next-door neighbor...the cathedral (duh). A glass of perfectly-chilled light red Spanish wine while we waited for our room. And oh what a oaisis of tranquility. Sophisticated yet comfortable. Comtemporary yet functional. Lunch (tapas) in the Santa Cruz neighborhood.

Visited the city's historic bull ring (and museum). One of the oldest in all of Spain. Upwards of 20 thousand spectators turn up every Sunday in May and June (and a special show for Easter) to watch 3 matadors fight 6 bulls. I'm pretty sure I would not want to watch a bull fight, but the ring was fascinating. Things I learned...this is certainly a sport, but it began as practice for fighting enemies in the Middle Ages. Every fight is 20 precise 5 minute stages. the matador makes the bull dip its head so tha he can jump over the horns to make a precise kill into the heart. There are specific rules for what can happen in the shadowed and sunlight parts of the oval ring. If a bull performs well, the matador clips one of its ears; if it does very well, both ears: and an exception goes the tail. The meat is sold at market. Truly fascinating.

A bird pooped on my head as we left the bull ring. Gracias.

Walked along the Guadalquivir River under a canopy of trees. Crew teams and kayakers zipped by. A rag-tag band of young trumpters "practiced". The cool afternoon breeze felt wonderful. Spotted an iced coffee.

The hotel's soothing rain shower washed away the days grime and soothed aching calves. Calming music on the cd player. Fully refreshed, we had dinner in a cozy coutyard in the Santa Cruz neighborhood. No tapas tonight...tried some recommended dishes...pork and veal. Spanish wine from Castilla-Leon.

By 1am the streets finally start to get quiet. Tossed a Euro to a guitarist playing soothing tunes outside the cathedral. Mojitos...wonderful refreshing mojitos on top of the hotel overlooking the cathedral...amazing. (Kim...these mojitos need to be on your to-do list :)

Achy feet trundled off to bed.

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