Córdoba Day 1 - Trench Foot
One of our aims this year is to visit as many places in Spain as we reasonably can, so in this run up to Christmas, we decided to book our first excursion, to Córdoba. Neither Andrew nor I had been to this city before, and as it is only around 2-3 hours’ drive from home, we thought it made sense for this to be our first mini-trip away. We also thought it might be pleasant to drive cross-country, away from the motorway, for a change.
We took the N432 route from Granada.
The first sign of disappointment came fairly soon after leaving the immediate outskirts of Granada, as the N432 seems to go through all the least attractive industrial areas, and these stretched for longer than I hoped they would!
Once we reached the open countryside, we were surrounded by the usual vast landscapes that we love about Spain: hillsides covered in olive trees as far as the eyes could see, and beyond, and beyond…..ad infinitum! The countryside to the west of Granada is a huge area of olive production, and almost the entire length of the N432 was bordered by olive fields. It is still stunning landscape, but after nearly three hours of driving, a change is welcome!
We decided to stop halfway for some lunch, and earmarked the village of Zuheros for no other reason than it sits on the edge of a national park and is the home of the intriguing Las Cuevas de los Murciélagos - the caves of the bats. I love that word ‘murciélagos’, and as a Spanish word it includes all the vowels in a single word.
Zuheros is one of those towns that creeps up on you as a bit of a surprise, a bit like the town of Alhama de Granada that we visited earlier this year. You follow the signs, around hillsides, and suddenly there is the town overshadowed by magnificent cliffs and gorges, with no prior clues being given. Zuheros is a very pretty village, and at its heart there sits a castle that originally dates from the 10th Century, literally growing out from above the rocks, and below it the village scatters its whitewashed buildings haphazardly down the hillside.
The village was sleepy, apart from the main square that was alive with a crowd of Spanish visitors who had just arrived by coach for lunch and a look round. We found a small local bar that was small and very local, with a few of the village gentlemen sitting in one corner setting the world to rights. We were given a warm welcome, but the tapas was not of the standard that we have come to expect in our own neck of the woods, so we ventured back to the main square where we had seen a larger restaurant through the sea of Spanish sightseers. I won’t dwell on it too much, but lunch was…..interesting! The red peppers stuffed with prawns sounded, on the menu, delicious but, suffice to say, they were not! The unidentified liqueurs that came with the bill did their best to take the edge of a lacklustre lunch, and we set off for Córdoba, leaving the Caves of Bats behind for another visit.
As we approached the city, it started to rain. As you will have read in previous posts, wen it rains in Spain, it rains; there is no half-hearted drizzle here. By the time we reached the historic centre, it was pouring down and it didn’t stop all night.
We stayed at the Eurostars Conquistador Hotel, literally opposite La Mezquita, and we were able to drop off our luggage right outside and throw the car into the subterranean car park. The hotel was a great find - yes, it is part of a chain, and these often have a standard look, but the internal patio (Córdoba is famous for its beautiful courtyard gardens) was lovely, and our room overlooked this.
Once we had had time to recover from our drive, we thought we’d venture out in search of a little drink and somewhere to eat. The rain had abated not one jot, and streams of water coursed down the cobbled streets. Now, some of you will know that Andrew and I love the Spanish shop, El Ganso, that sells beautiful clothes, but completely impractical shoes for wet weather. My shoes and the rain do not go together, so I spent the night tottering around like a Geisha for fear of backsliding into the Guadalquivir River.
We had, foolishly, left our umbrella at home, so staggered through Córdoba like a couple of drowned rats, with sodden feet and dripping coats. It was difficult to see the beauty of the city from beneath a fetching waterproof hood. We managed to find a watering hole and went on to a restaurant that had good reviews, La Taberna Salinas, and here enjoyed a splendid dinner that rather made the damp feet almost worthwhile…..almost.
At least bed was dry, as we eventually lay there listening to rain beat relentlessly down outside.