day trip to córdoba
I’d been trying to do a day trip to Cordóba all during May, as that’s the month when everything seems to be happening there, and although I missed the Cruz de Mayo and the Festival of the Patios, I finally made it on the last Friday of the month, in time for the Cordóba Feria, which was also my 20th anniversary of living in Spain, so that turned out to be a good choice. And the weather was perfect.
First stop was for late breakfast/elevenses, at a little café alongside the Plaza de Colón, with some rather yummy tostadas topped with olive oil, fresh tomato and tiny taquitos of jamón. Thus fortified, it was off past the Torre de la Malmuerta (tower of the bad death) to our first stop, and one of the main reasons for coming to Cordóba, the newly opened Palacio de Viana, the Palace of the Patios. As you can see from the photos below, this wonderful 500-year-old building has no fewer than eleven interconnecting patios, as well as a garden, each with its own individual design and character. Really worth a visit. Also nice that it’s a bit outside the main tourist area around the Mezquita, and wo walking back to the centre through the winding streets of the old town we saw a part of the city that we hadn’t seen before.
Along the way we stopped off in the Plaza de la Corredera for a pre-lunch cold beer. This is a magnificent Castilian-style Plaza Mayor, apparently the only one of its kind in Andalucía, mostly built in the late 17th century, although the buildings on the south side of the square where the market (a former prison) is are even older. The name comes from the fact that it was once used for bullfighting, and it is also thought to be the site of the Roman amphitheatre. Then it was off to find some lunch…
The idea had been to do a two-stop tapeo with warm-up tapas at Mesón Juan Peña and then move on to Bodegas Campos, since they had come highly recommended. But it turned out that both places only had four tapas on their menus (couldn’t even get a tapas size of Córdoba’s most famous dish – salmorejo). So we shared two tapas at Méson Juan Peña – probably the best fried aubergines I’ve ever tasted (and blissfully free of the treacly “miel de caña” that is usually dribbled all over them), and a cardoon and cumin stew with an egg tossed in at the last minute. At Bodegas Campos none of the four tapas appealed so we opted to share a couple of media raciones – a fabulous “huevos rotos” dish with potatoes and chorizo Ibérico and a rather scant (but delicious) plate of grilled presa (pork).
By the time we finished it was time for a leisurely stroll across the river (actually twice, as the feria is on the same side as we were, but round a long horseshoe bend). The second bridge was decked with lights, which I am sure would have been a beautiful sight if we had been able to stay late enough to see them lit. But not to be. The portada was a representation of the interior of the Mezquita, and there was a big circular fountain just inside that helped to make the day seem cooler.
The feria was a pleasant surprise. For a start, unlike the feria in Seville, it was possible to go into any of the casetas for something to eat or drink – and the casetas we saw were more airy and spacious, and, would you believe, air-conditioned? We spent a pleasant hour or so having a couple of drinks, and watching the last of the day’s horses and carriages, and then we did something I thought I wouldn’t ever be brave enough to do – we took a ride on the big ferris wheel. I expected to be terrified, but it turned out I wasn’t frightened at all. I think it helped that just before the ride started we were joined by an elderly lady (her husband had chosen to stay on the ground). It was certainly my achievement for the day, and I got off at the end feeling quite proud of myself.
Finally it was time to go home. We took a longer route back past the Calahorra Tower and across the old Roman bridge, with its views of the mediaeval watermills that span the river just downstream. This diversion was almost our undoing as we chose the wrong way to get back to the station, and all the taxis were full and heading towards the feria! Luckily we found one at last and, heart-in-throat, just managed to catch our train, which set off as we were settling into our seats. Phew!
No Mezquita visit this time – no time! – but you can see more of the photos I took below…
[also posted on the azahar Sevilla blog]