I enjoyed Córdoba and the Mezquita was memorable but 2 days there is sufficient. My original plan was to go from there to Granada to see the Alhambra and I admit I was miffed when my travelling companion who appears to be at her elderly mother’s beck and call changed her (and our) plans as she was summoned to see her in Malaga. In fact it worked out for the best, as often happens in life, as I could travel light to Córdoba leaving a heavy suitcase in the hotel in Sevilla to which I would be returning.
We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel by the fountain before taking a 1-20 train to our destinations. My travelling companion was an invaluable source of local knowledge and language.
She really only had one drawback, she was a smoker. On the plane over the pilot had to admonish a passenger for smoking in the loo. Aside from being a disgusting and unhealthy habit, the smoker has to disappear – as my friend did whilst queuing for the train to Córdoba – for a quick fag. I also very much resent having to look at a grey ashtray, or worse, have some foul smoke in my face when I am eating. Rant over.
Once again I was mighty impressed by the Spanish rail service. The train lady on the platform explained in English where I should stand on the long platform, the train arrived punctually and the comfort level was high. The station itself was spotless. There was an airport style security check.
Her pretty facial features bore an expression of moaning anguish as she laid into the concierge, unconcerned that a whole queue was being held up by her. On my return the self-same lady was at the desk still complaining about her room and holding up the queue again.
At the first time my friend said the concierge could have been more appreciative but my take was she was so arrogant that she did not justify any “politesse”. I had this time a better room in the main section of the hotel which was considerably easy to locate.
On visiting the spa later in the catacombs I was amused to see a hopelessly lost couple, map in hand.
Nancy Bright Thompson wanted to initiate a debate on hotel v apartment. Somehow in a hotel one may feel guilty for being in the room in the afternoon and not sightseeing. Not me. I remember my first visit in 1978 to New York with a friend who holds now a senior executive position on the Rust. Every afternoon, dressed in his pyjamas, he could be found in the room watching some rubbishy tv show. He went on to pen a brilliant piece on New York in the late 70s without needing to sample its street life, bars and restaurants.
The Spanish we all know eat late. At 8.00 pm the hotel restaurant was deserted. I sat forlornly at a table amd waited in vain for some service.
After 10 minutes I left and found a tapas bar/ restaurant ‘El 3 Oro’ down the street. Next to me an elderly man was holding forth from what I soon gathered was his table. He was joined by a variety of friends and the conversation, mainly about the events in Barcelona, was spirited. It all reminded me of a book that Alice Mansfield recommended on the young Picasso who spent hours in a Barcelona cafe called the ‘The Four Cats’.
There is no British comparable as the pub is still male-orientated and the coffeehouse tends to be a chain serving mediocre coffee for singles on mobiles. I did see the odd mobile in use in the group but it was principally chat. My tapas selection of my obligatory Sanmorejo cold gazpacho, lightly battered calamari, Iberian Ham and octopus was quite delicious, washed down by a manzanilla sherry and 2 glasses of wine. Most of the street life was touristy but I was delighted once again that a random choice to leave the hotel restaurant resulted in such a delightful gastro, people-watching, experience.