Waving goodbye to Almería Robin and I boarded an ALSA bus to the seaside town of Motril where our expat friends from Oregon, Sam and Laura, would pick us up. Our plan was to spend three days at their home high in the Sierra Nevada mountains near the village of Pampaneira. Hint the highest mountain in Spain, el Mulhacén (about 11,000 feet) is in the neighborhood. They were at the bus station as promised and off we went. The drive to their home was an eye opener or closer depending on the drop off at the time. They are very much off the grid with only a few neighbors. They have a beautifully renovated stone cortijo (farmhouse). Power is solar with a generator backup, hot water is solar, central heat and hot water backup is a wood pellet furnace. Fresh water is collected from ancient water channels that flow down from high mountain snow fields and then is stored separately for irrigation and domestic use. Quite a nice utility set up that works nicely as advertised.
Sam and Laura are avid hikers and their locale offers innumerable nearby opportunities for them to stretch their legs. They knew we also were up for a hike so a good portion of our time together was spent up in the mountains. Laura and Sam spoiled us with their genuine hospitality. Great hikes in spectacular settings, fantastic meals and a few bottles of vino made for a visit we shall hold dear for years to come. When it was finally, and sadly, time for us to go Laura and Sam kindly offered to drive us to the train station in Granada where we would catch the high speed AVE train to Córdoba. We arrived a bit early and had time to offer our heartfelt thanks for such a memorable visit. Apparently we didn’t break any house rules as they left us with a standing invitation to return. We will definitely be doing that.
We had purchased our tickets on the RENFE (Spanish Rail) app and once through the baggage screening we boarded. It was to be only an hour and twenty minute trip but lunch (airline style) was served. Surprisingly it wasn’t bad. We sat across from two Aussie ladies from the Central Coast area (a bit north of Sydney). They were fun companions for the short trip. So just as the lunch service was finishing we glided into Córdoba Station. A taxi was at the curb and 8 minutes later we were being checked into a very nice hotel, the Hospes Palacio del Bailio, our home for the next three nights.
Day 2. Today was mostly spent getting to know the city. We strolled about checking out various interesting barios, but the gem was a visit to Córdoba’s Cathedral, the Mezquita, a former mosque. It is an enormous structure that seems even larger once you are inside. Basically, it is a cathedral inside a former mosque. This region of Spain has a rich Roman history, a rich Islamic history, a rich Christian history and a rich Jewish history. Over the centuries various city structures were repurposed depending upon who was in control at that moment. The Mezquita is a perfect case in point. Google for the whole story. But some of my pictures will help you get the gist of it.
It is now day 3 and our time in Córdoba is almost at its end. We are off tomorrow to Cádiz for two nights, and then finally to Seville where our Camino walk will begin. Today was another day of sightseeing that found us taking the hop on hop off bus for a spin around town and then wandering around the old Jewish quarter and the royal fortress, the Alcázar. As the afternoon wore on we found ourselves in front of the Mercado Victoria, a food stall installation that had a bit of everything. We definitely over sampled but we keep telling ourselves the Camino will burn it off. We shall see. More from Cádiz later. All is well.
Sam and Laura
The dark line mid photo is Morocco
Robin and I around the 6200 foot mark
Sam, Laura and Robin on our morning walk
Sam and Laura’s drinking water comes from a similar source
Some horses horsing around
Whitewashed village in the nearby hills
Sam, Robin and me in the middle
Entering our hotel
Córdoba is famous for its patio gardens
Cathedral high alter
Lunch at last. Mercado Victoria
Back at our hotel