Thursday, 30 August 2018

301 More Cordoba

29th August 2018  Miles Today 0   Total miles 748
We had a chill out day today and caught the round city bus. Again the city was spotless and full of churches and municipal buildings that although we photographed them, they pale into insignificance with the ones we took in the Cathedral. So we left them out!

This cathederal, called the 'Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba', is absolutely enormous and truly spectacular. It is believed that the site originally housed a Christian church but when the Arab-Berber Muslim invasion of Spain took place in the early 700s AD the place had a huge mosque built and this had several large extensions placed upon it by successive Muslim rulers.

From the late 700s AD there were perpetual wars between the occupying Arab Muslims and Christians and in 1491, the Iberian peninsular was finally retaken by the Christians. This period is known and the 'Reconquista'. Following this the now Catholic rulers set about ethnic cleansing and ordered all the Jews and Muslims still in Iberia to convert to Christianity. Those that were suspected of still practising Jewish or Muslim religions were executed under what is now known as 'The Spanish inquisition'.

The Cathedral itself (and Cordoba) was taken back into Christian rule in 1236 and was converted to a Catholic church. This has been the case since. However, since the year 2000, many attempts have been made by Muslims to pray there and these attempts have been turned down by the Catholic church and the Pope. In 2010, a group of 118 touring Muslims from Austria attended the Cathedral and about a dozen of them knelt to pray. They were ordered to continue the tour or leasve and a fight broke out and two security guards were seriously injured and 2 men were arrested.

After the Cathedral, we visited our more normal church service in the Pimp bar next door.

How much do you think I should charge? Enough leg showing ?
We managed to get a booking in a restaurant that had a flamenco demonstration in the centre and went wandering around the old city till it was open.

Will you get off that bloody phone ?
We got to the restaurant and ordered some strange starters. The orange one, similar to a Spanish, cold gespacho soup was lovely and the one that looks like a bakewell tart was bordering on disgusting. However, we have go to try these things.
Orange soup OK, Bakewell tart soup, definitely noy OK.
Then the dancers came on and I have to say they were very good. Not that I know a thing about dancing, it is just that they went on for ages and how they remembered the whole sequence, in time with the singer and guitarist is beyond me. I was impressed.

This guy could seriously move for a little fat boy.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

300 Cordoba

28th August 2018  Miles today, 249, Total miles 748
The trip to Cordoba started off badly. We intended to leave early to ride in the relative cool of the morning but we were hindered by two things. The heat of the night gave us a bad nights sleep and we woke up slower than we originally intended and secondly, after rescuing Wallace from the secure parking, I noticed that his eyes would not open (the headlights were not working). Because I have had this bike for many years I knew immediately that the problem was a bad earth. I also knew where the problem was so I had a mini strip down of the side to gain access to the electrics to sort out a problem that I thought I had dealt with a few weeks before. Muppet!

With Wallace seeing properly we finally set off at 9:30 am and it was already hot for our 247 mile trip. The gauge was reading 28 deg C when we set off.

The journey was incredibly boring and it was obviously not helped by the uncomfortable heat which got worse as the day progressed.

Lots of nothing but semi-desert.

Ah, something to look at - shame we missed the train which was worth looking at. It was one of those height speed things.
We stopped for a bit of brunch at around 12 (we did not have breakfast) and after getting off the bike, Karen was taking her jacket off and let out a small scream. A wasp of some sort had got into her jacket sleeve and stung her on her arm. It soon left her with a very painful 2" red circle on the inside of her elbow. She was however very brave and chalked it up to the environment we were in and accepted it as inevitable at some time.

71 mph (115 kph) and 37 deg C. Horrible.

 We arrived at Cordoba at around 3pm and poured ourselves into the hotel lobby. We were dripping and exhausted. After sorting ourselves out we relaxed in the rooftop pool for a couple of hours then walked across the river bridge and into the old city of Cordoba. Well, we thought Madrid was good but Cordoba was truly spectacular. It was like stepping back to the middle ages. These people really look after their heritage.

The view from our hotel towards the old part of the city over the Roman bridge.

This was in the centre of the bridge. Cathdral in background. How long would this last in the UK ?

Side view of the Cathedral of Cordoba.

Onother side to the cathdral. It was huge. And a capture of the boss.

 After a bimble around we decided to got a drink and popped into a small bar. When the drinks were served the waitress beckoned us through to the garden area and we are glad she did. There was a guy playing a guitar and another bar in a delightful garden. We stayed there the rest of the night. One of the ways they reduce the heat problem is to spray fine water mist over the guests. It sounds weird but it makes the air really cool and comfortable.

This piccy of an idiot abroad also shows the water mist being sprayed.

Looking back at the cathedral whilst returning over the Roman bridge.

299 Madrid

27th August 2018  Miles today 0 Total miles 499
We were not expecting too much from a capital city (generally we do not like cities having worked in one for so long) but in all fairness we were pleasantly surprised by Madrid. The place was spotless and the authorities and public obviously look after their city.

After a good sleep and a long lay in bed working on this blog. It was late getting started as we had a problem with the camera card not working with the computer and this slowed things down a bit but now it is workable if not completely sorted.

We set off for the centre of Madrid on the 'Metro' (Underground) and buying tickets was an adventure in itself. We knew which station we wanted to go to but for some reason every time we tried to type the station name into the ticket machine it would not appear. This had the net result of completely confusing 2 idiots for a good 15 minutes. We ended up putting a nearby station in and settling for that. Once through the turnstiles and on the train we then saw signs stating that the station we wanted was under refurbishment. Shame they could not have advertised that in the ticket office !!!

Anyway, we got off the train and walked the short distance to get the cattle class tourist bus tour of the city. I have to say, the place really impressed us. These people are clearly very proud of their heritage and all the monuments and old public buildings were incredibly clean well preserved.

The following pictures are somewhat snatched for being taken from a moving bus but are reasonable.

Christopher Columbus  or Christof Colon as the Spanish call him. He was Italian but worked from Spain under authority and sponsorship from the Catholic church. He discovered parts of the Americas whilst looking for India, hence native South Americans are generally called Indians. 

The Spanish national Library.

Fuente de Cibeles. The font of the Roman Goddess of agriculture and fertility.

The Metropolis building. This is just and insurance companies HQ.

The Templo de Debod. An Egyptian Temple made in the 2nd century BC. Donated by the Egyptians as it was to be flooded during the making of the Aswan dam.
The Palace of Real. (As in 'Real Madrid' the football team)
Cathedral De Santa Maria (I think!)
One of the gates to the city.
Come on - own up. Would you eat here ?
La Plaza Mayor.
The Madrid Bull Ring.
Finally a capture of the Boss smiling in front of a camera.
A statue to the bull fighters.
After our bus and tube ride we wandered home via the Madrid Bull ring and then retired to the bar we eventually found last night (I know we can be boring at times) and had a fantastic meal that just kept coming.
The bar from the inside was lively and had a fantastic atmosphere.

Garlic prawns in white wine and a meat/cheese platter. Very tasty - especially the stinky garlic.

And then this turned up. Glasses of sorbet, 2 small ice creams and two bottles, one with a Baileys type liqueur and the other with a lemon cello type drink in. All gratis. Woohoo....
And then it was off to bed for another long trip to Cordoba tomorrow.

Monday, 27 August 2018

298 Spain to Madrid

25th August 2018  Miles Today 5, total 233.

After a night of rocking and rolling in bed, we arose to find that the bad weather was easing and the barometer was rising. Wohoo...

We had breakfast and then waited the long day with our Kindles in full swing for the ferry to dock at Santander. Finally.... we were there....

The Santander waterfront.

The call to go down to the car deck finally came at around 5pm and after 9 flights of stairs (fortunately downwards this time) we were reacquainted with Wallace and eventually rode off the ferry and into Spain.

I set the sat nav to take us to our first hotel, The Posada, El Jardin de Angela (Garden of Angels) and arrived there after about 10 minutes. It took a few minutes to get back in the swing of driving on the wrong side of the road but all was good. The hotel was a quaint old place perched on the top of a small hill. The walls were painted purple and with the old furniture, looked like a film set from the Munsters. It was not unpleasant, just weird. We liked it a lot.

The hotel Posada (the top bit) from our restaurant for the evening.
The hotel manager advised Karen where to go and eat. I have to say, she is getting braver at speaking in Spanish, good job too really as the owner didn't speak any English. We walked to a restaurant that overlooked the small valley we had just walked through.

A clearing sky for our first Spanish sunset.
We got to the restaurant, the 'ASADOR EL ESCONDRIJO' at about 7:30 and thought we might be there too late. We were wrong, it turned out that in keeping with this part of Spain, the place opens at 9pm. So we did what we do best when bored or waiting for something. Hit the bar!

Karen asked for a Vodka and Tonic and was given this monster. The wry smile says it all.   
Once the restaurant was open we went through and were served by a Romanian and later, a Moroccan waiter. Spain, it appears is the same as the UK in this respect.
I ordered fish and the Romanian guy showed me a large fresh beast and told me it would be nice. I am not a lover of fish. I like the taste but the bones just put me off but I thought when in Spain etc. The filleted fish turned up and it was delicious. My likes have been altered to some extent.
I orderd fish. Technical name is 'fish'. (I have no real idea what it is)
 The restaurant is clearly very popular as toward the end of our meal, the place was packed and the atmosphere was very pleasant. We would recomend this place to anyone. The staff were helpful and polite. It was a good re-introduction to Spain.

Thew outside of the place bore no resemblance to the huge interior.
We left the restaurant at about 10pm intending to walk back across the valley and go to bed. We didn't quite make it. About 4 doors down, we passed a small bar, the 'CASA SAMPEDRO' that had been closed on our way out and it was seriously buzzing. We had no choice but to mix with the locals and more drinks with free Tapas. Awesome.

Eventually, at about midnight we finally got to bed. We like Spain a lot.

26th August 2018  Miles Today, 266, Total 499.

We have a long hard day ahead of us today. We have 260 miles (416km now we are in Spain) to do and it is likely to be hot as we approach Madrid in the centre of the country.
We set off along what we thought was to be a boring motorway, or Autovia as they call them here. We were pleasantly surprised. The scenery was such as would be called a National Park in the UK. Having said that, we started out at about 10am and the temperature was 20 deg C. After a couple of hours, the temperature had gone up to 28 deg C. We were doing fine buy the sky was clear and the sun was beating down on my thighs and they were cooking.
The landscape at the beginning of the day was lush and green like this.

We passed through several mountain tunnels and eventually ended up at over 1400m (4,600 ft), higher that Ben Nevis.
These were strange. Listening to the engine and exhaust noise bouncing off the walls was weird.
The Motorways were very quiet. This is normal for Spain and it was also Sunday si I suppose that helped. We stopped for a coffee just after half way and after we set off again, we noticed that the landscape was changing into yellow parched fields. It was also hotting up some more. It was now after 1pm and as they say, 'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun', so we did. The temperature was now up to 31 deg C but we were still doing OK.

The landscape was now semi desert. It was hot too.

We just had to get this. They are all over Spain and obviously part of it's culture and heritage.
As we entered Madrid, the temperature had gone up to 35 deg C and it was stifling. It was bearable when on main roads with the wind chill but when we hit the traffic lights of the city with all our bike gear on it was positively horrible. Fortunately, the roads were very quiet at 3pm on a hot Sunday afternoon when all sensible people were having a siesta and we got to the hotel relatively quickly.

Finally. We were about to get really hot.

We booked in and I took Wallace to a secure parking area. We were tired hot and sweaty so after a shower we decided to wash our dirty clothes in the bath. We had nowhere to hang them up so I popped back to Wallace and borrowed some elastic bungees off of him and made a washing line inside the balcony. Out of sight, out of mind.
We then set off to look for a food outlet. We searched for a specific Rincon Tapas one (famous -  apparently) without success but we found one that served German bratwurst and frankfurters. German food is one of our favourites so naturally we had both - with chips and sauerkraut. This was the square that we ate our food 'al fresco'.

Can't think why but it reminded us of Stonehenge.
 After it got dark we wandered back to our hotel and stumbled upon the place we were looking for earlier. We are such muppets. We could actually see it from our hotel window. Doh!
So a few more drinks and a lot of Tapas later we hit the sack for a long good sleep.

Karen wondering what it was she was about to eat.

A giggling heap having had a good night out.