Our trip from New Mexico to Spain has started well. All of our flights arrived on time (or early) and our luggage showed up at the airport in Madrid with only a short delay. After a short wait at the Puerta de Atocha train station we got to Córdoba quickly. And, when I say quickly, I mean fast. Our train reached speads of 270 kmh (about 170 mph). The countryside looked drier than I remember it from last year.
In Córdoba we got a taxi to our apartment drop-off and I am pleased to be able to say that I was able to joke a little bit with the driver about all of the bicycles on the road. We decided it was a “festival biciclete.” We met our host with no problems at the little square near our apartment.
The apartment is quite nice–if a little small. It could not be in a better location for the old town. It is in a complex of other apartments but it is quiet and safe. I said quiet, but there is an hourly exception to that: there is a bell tower about 50 feet away which rings at 5 minutes after the hour. Fortunately, it did not ring at night. We are on the top floor and we have a patio that has a very nice view of the mezquita and its campanile.
We spent some time walking around in the late afternoon. It was still pretty warm and we were glad to see that there are many gelato places nearby. We sampled some and it hit the spot. Even though we were only here for one day last year we feel pretty comfortable already in walking around. Which leads to…
After dinner (Sunday evening) we went outside to return to the apartment and all of the stores were closed, only a few restaurants were still open, and the streets looked completely different. We decided to walk down to the river and got turned around. Because we felt comfortable that we knew our way around a little, we were easily able to head back towards our apartment and pick up a street that led to the old Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir river. It was well worth the short detour.
More about dinner. As in so many other places, there are many, many restaurants in Córdoba. How to tell where to eat? Patricia’s solution is to compare every single menu with every other menu as we walked down dozens of streets. That approach paid off big time last night. We ate at Casa Pepe Restaurant Juderia (Juderia is the old Jewish district). It serves traditional Iberian food. We had a really good meal with outstanding service. Patricia had a beef dish and I had Iberian ham and some papas bravas that were wonderful. During the course of the meal, the waiter asked us where we were from. I told him I was from New Mexico and he wanted to know where Patricia was from so I told him Arizona. Near the end of the meal, he brought us a platter with “Arizona” and “Mexico” spelled out in a kiwi-flavored icing. [I’m sure I told him Nuevo Mexico, but perhaps there was not room for that.]
It is a small thing, but speaking of Nuevo Mexico, I was able to practice my limited Spanish a good bit on Sunday. More than last year, I found I was more comfortable at the train station, in the taxi, talking to our host, asking about tours, and talking to our waiter. My practice with Alejandro Lopez and others has really helped. Thanks, everyone. As we left the restaurant, the maitre’d asked ¿todo bien? and, summing up not just the meal but the whole day, I said “muy rico.”
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