I love olives! I didn’t used to. As a kid I hated olives, especially green ones. In almost every restaurant, almost as soon as you sit down, they serve green olives along with various types of bread and olive oil. As we were sitting in a charming little restaurant in Córdoba, I turned to Enrique and said, “I love olives!” as though it were a discovery.
We left Granada Monday morning and drove to Córdoba, stayed for two nights, and then moved on to Toledo. Both cities with their old towns and historic districts are enchanting and charming. Each has a renowned Cathedral, a rich Islamic heritage, a Jewish section characterized by remains of Synagoges and narrow maze-like streets, and clear evidences of the conquering Christians. In each city, once we arrived we “hit the streets” exploring as much as we could in the afternoon and evening. On the next day, our full day, we were up and out in good order and continued absorbing each of these amazing cities.
Córdoba is vibrant and sizzling with energy. It is renowned as a beautiful city and for its annual Festival of Patios in May. Each year the homeowners open their homes (their patios) for tourists to see. They compete for prizes but mostly it’s the joy of sharing the beauty they have nurtured. Part of its beauty is its amazing history. Our hotel was on such a narrow street, we had to walk in for several blocks. The hotel, with its nine rooms, was built on a Roman foundation. Across the street, about 4 feet away, was a house that is now a museum that was once a royal home in the 15th Century (Islamic time) and a prison. The street’s name is Calle de Cabezas (Street of Heads) because according to legend, the seven children of the one prisoner were beheaded and their heads were hung on display. Córdoba is rich with history and it has an incredible Mosque-Cathedral. I could not fathom the vastness and the richness. I cannot describe it.
Toledo, built on a bluff at the edge of a river, is beautiful and there is an elegance here that is hard to describe but easy to relish. We walked and walked and walked some more. Thursday, we began our day with a visit to the Cathedral. We planned a short visit because we’ve visited many Cathedrals, right? Well this one, like each of the others, was special. The recorded tour was also the best of all the recorded tours we taken. We spent 4 hours in the Cathedral.
Then we moved on to the El Greco Museum. I learned a lot. One thing, El Greco, who spend much of his life in Toledo, was not Spanish. He was born on Crete. He was Greek, thus El Greco. In Italy he studied in Venice developing his unique expressions of color, and in Florence with Michelangelo developing his techniques of space and depth. In Italy he was called an artist; in Spain, an artisan, and not respected nor paid well. When he died, his art was lost and not revived until the 19th and 20th Centuries. The museum was small but wonderful. Great afternoon.
Yesterday we were on our feet for nearly 10 hours. Just as I was ready to call it quits and go back to the hotel, we’d round a corner and something else beckoned us on. Finally we stopped for dinner in a small Arabian restaurant. The waiter was Syrian. From Aleppo. In Spain -- Toledo -- for two years. Learned his Spanish on the streets. Yes, there is an elegance here woven into the beauty.
Today, Friday, we pack up, drive back to Madrid, and fly to Barcelona. What an amazing three weeks, three weeks to the day, it has been.