This Córdoba Getaway was a delicious mix of revisiting well-known and well-loved places and discovering a few “new” spots too (well, new for me). By what turned out to be a lucky chance, two of the places I had planned on revisiting were closed, so we ended up changing our Thursday lunch booking at La Regadera to Wednesday and I set about looking for somewhere else to go. Then it hit me – who better to ask about good places to eat than one of my favourite Cordobés chefs?
So although it felt a bit cheeky, I sent chef Adrian from La Regadera a Twitter DM asking if he could recommend somewhere nice, and that’s how we ended up the next day in a barrio of Córdoba I’d never been in before (San Lorenzo) having a spectacular lunch at a bar I’d never heard of – La Cuchara de San Lorenzo. Luckily we were averaging about 20,000 steps a day (according to FitBit) to compensate somewhat.
Looking forward to a quick trip back with Janet Mendel when Noor reopens in the spring.
No matter how many times you see the Mezquita in Córdoba it will always – ALWAYS – take your breath away. Obviously this little square pic doesn’t do it justice, but really no photo will ever do so. It’s been a few years since I’ve been inside (last time I think was with Craig & Susan?) and I loved it all over again.
A new experience for me was a morning visit to the Mahidat al-Zahra, which has only been open to the public since 2009. It is the site of a city built outside Córdoba around 950 BC for the Moorish king (Caliph), which only lasted about 80 years. The only down side to the visit was that we weren’t told until we arrived at the site by bus that the Salón of Abd-ar-Rahman III (ie The Main Attraction) was closed for repairs. Still, it was a nice walk around on a beautiful blue morning.
This was a totally last minute booking after a quick look on google… and I couldn’t have been luckier. Especially as I found out up on arrival that the Hotel Soho Boutique Capuchinos has only been open four months (!!!). A great location for me as it’s just a 10-15 minute walk to/from the train station, which makes it easy with the suitcase.
Not quite as central as other places I’ve stayed in Córdoba, but to be honest, I preferred the proximity to the train station, and even appreciated the walks to and from the centre (about 15 minutes), which were uphill (well, more upslope) on the way back. So got all those extra Fitbit steps in to help counteract the delicious food and drink we enjoyed. More on that later. And there will be a proper hotel review later on Azahar Travels.
It was a fabulous birthday getaway and felt so much longer than just an overnight trip. We arrived in Ronda around 11.30 on Wednesday and took a scenic route to our hotel.
La Colegiata de Ronda (actually holiday apartments) was recommended by Mannie from Toma & Coe and it was perfect. The only “problem” was that we were barely there other than to sleep, so we didn’t get to take advantage of the rooftop terrace or the kitchen. But it was very spacious and comfortable and the owner, Gracia, was super helpful and friendly.
Of course there were tapas! We managed to fit in three delicious meals while we were there (plus one breakfast) but, according to my Fitbit, the amount we walked (much of it uphill) helped cancel out the extra calories. We enjoyed the trendy tapas at Tragatá, but traditional food won out. La Niña de Adela was as fabulous as I remembered it, though it has changed a bit since my previous visit in 2014. Our final lunch was next door at Mesón El Sacristán (run by Gracia’s brother Antonio) and it was wonderful.
Aside from visiting museums and walking up and down the gorge, our most unusual experience came about just by chance. Since I signed up for the Fitur Tourism Fair a couple of weeks ago I’ve been receiving emails from different tour operators, inviting me to visit them at their booth. So when another Fitur email popped up on my phone while we were on the bus I was about to ignore it … but the word Ronda caught my eye. It was from a place called Reserva Tauro just outside Ronda and, like the other emails, it suggested meeting up at Fitur. So I wrote back right away, saying I was actually on the bus to Ronda and plans were made for us to visit on Thursday morning.
Reserva Tauro is a breeding farm for fighting bulls and purebred Andalusian and Arabian horses located in the Sierra de las Nieves (a UNESCO site). It is run by Rafael Tejada, who is a bullfighter as well as a breeder. The visit was wonderful, quite exceeding my expectations. We were taken around the farm, sometimes on foot, sometimes on a little “tourist train”, and our guide kept us both entertained and informed. We got to see the young foals (so cute, all legs!), the mother cows and their young, and the bravo bulls. I even got to see Ibérico pigs close up. Later we were treated to a short riding performance, and Rafael showed us how to use the different fighting capes (which are much heavier than they look). Afterwards we were brought back to the testing ring and sat outside on the adjacent terrace, where we were given wine and snacks before being taken back to town. Honestly, if you are planning a trip to Ronda you MUST do this.
We also went to the bullring in town (Spain’s oldest), the Baños Árabes and the curious Museo Lara, which is about a dozen museums in one. And of course we made sure we were on the terrace of the Parador Hotel overlooking the gorge at sunset to enjoy a drink and the changing light. It was a perfect getaway. Next up… Córdoba!
I have been thinking about where to go for a big 60th BIRTHDAY TRIP, since I reckoned that making it to my 7th decade on January 7th was indeed something to celebrate. But my first choice (San Sebastián) fell though because my friend Gabriella is going to be away all month, and one of the main highlights of going to SS would be to hang out with G. And then I thought about Lisbon, but direct flights are difficult to find, so I may hold out on that one until I can go by car. Also, both places are iffy weather-wise in January, especially as I was planning to spend a week wherever I went, and a week in the rain anywhere would not be pleasant.
And so I have come up with a new plan, which is to celebrate my birthday all month long (!!!) with a different overnight getaway each week. Four destinations that immediately came to mind – Cádiz, Ronda, Córdoba, Granada – are all places I haven’t visited for a couple of years (or more) and so I thought this would be a nice way to “catch up”. Also, since I’ll be travelling by train or bus, I can pretty much book last minute, and avoid rainy days.
So… first stop Ronda! 🙂
On my last full day in Málaga Peter came down on an early train to spend my final 24 hours in town with me. After checking in at his comfy hostel just around the corner from my place, which was very convenient, we met Victor at the Atarazanas market for a quick beer and a snack before heading out for lunch.
The Hostel Vidamia even came with a resident cat, though Peter told me later that she didn’t sleep with the guests. We had a couple of very nice meals over the weekend (and one decidedly NOT nice one, which also came with a side of chef diva drama) but I’ll talk more about those over on Azahar Tapas.
I had been looking forward all week to visiting the newly opened Museo de Málaga and we finally went after lunch on Saturday… but after a couple of hours visiting just the archaeological exhibit on the second floor my brain was full and my feet were tired. There was no way we would have enjoyed or appreciated the art exhibit after that. Recommend doing this visit in two parts if you can.
The weather wasn’t being very cooperative over the weekend, so we didn’t get around as much as we would have liked. I was already gearing down and ready to go home by this point, so I didn’t mind so much, but I did feel badly for Peter that he didn’t get to go up on the big wheel. Next time.
Yes, ANOTHER Málaga Christmas lunch. This time with Fred & Arpy at a new place called Mixtúrate, with a pleasant fusiony menu including Peruvian and Brazilian influences. After lunch we popped over to Café Bar Estraperlo and lucked out finding both José & Mark there at the same time. Over coffee it transpired that Arpy had a packet of Waitrose mince pies in her bag, so out those came and I got to enjoy my first mince pie in YEARS. Happy.
Later on I wandered up to meet my friend David at Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience as it was the only time during the week we were both free to meet up. I always love my chats with David, he’s so supportive and smart, funny and fun to be with too.
After such a great day out I was happy to go home and have a quiet evening in. I really love this about my Málaga Getaways. I get to feel both on holiday and at home at the same time.