Cordoba Bus Tour

Thursday, June 8, 2017

We had decided to take a bus tour to Cordoba as our last city visit in Spain. Cordoba is best known for the great mosque La Mezquita, which contains within it the Cathedral and is located in the old Jewish Quarter. We were to catch the bus at our Club Marbella location at 6:50am, so we were up before daylight. One blessing from that was the view of a big bright yellow moon over the Mediterranean. From our balcony we could just see a bit of the sea.

Our bus arrived and an English-speaking guide welcomed us onboard as some of the first participants. It was a big comfortable bus, and we anticipated a sizable portion of the day in Cordoba since it is a two hour drive and we weren't due back until 8pm. What we hadn't taken into account was that the bus worked the south coast to multiple hotels for two solid hours before we actually headed north toward Cordoba. That wasn't all bad news, however, because we got a tour of the south coast and saw a lot of beach areas that we had not seen. At right is one of our early morning views of the Mediterranean.

I did get a bit of a sunrise view of the surf and the distant cliffs south of Malaga. It took a few tries out the bus window since the coast is very heavily developed with all kinds of hotels and other types of accommodations.

These are some glimpses of the Mediterranean shot between buildings along the heavily developed coastline. Time is progressing roughly from left to right and the color progressing from blue to a rather greenish yellow as the sun came up higher.
At left above is a rocky point with boats moored along it. At right is a typical highrise hotel, of which there were dozens. The busdriver skillfully maneuvered the big bus down narrow streets and around roundabouts to pick up more passengers. We left the beach area and went northward into the city of Malaga through dense urban housing that was rather depressing. There was little open space, so I thought it amusing when we came upon the open field with two horses, with more apartments in the background.
There were many McDonald's and Burger Kings along the coast. We also saw Aldi's grocery stores.
Above right are some of the nicer highrise apartments in downtown Malaga. The whole part of the city was very densely populated and busy. I was glad the busdriver was doing the driving.

Many things attest to the great age of these ancient cities, but one that certainly catches your eye in the inner city is the fact that all the electrical service has to be just attached to the outside of the buildings. These buildings were built hundreds of years before electricity supplies! And they are solid rock and masonry buildings. We saw the same thing in all the old cities we visited.

It was a great relief to this old Arkansas country boy to break loose from that dense city and head north up the A-45 toward Cordoba. The "Autovias" are wonderfully engineered modern expressways and away from the cities, Andalucia is very open country.

There are some intriguing ancient Spanish buildings, made more attractive by their settings in the open country.

Ahh! A deeper sigh of relief as we move through beautiful mountainous countryside.

We moved into the intensive olive growing area with it's regular rows of olive trees. This is the most intensive olive growing area in the world, and we were most times in view of olive trees the rest of the way to Cordoba.

Even some horses! Now I was feeling lots better!

An interesting rocky mountainside where we had a rest stop. It was familiar to us since we had stopped at the same place on two of our previous drives.

A reverie of beauty in the Spanish countryside.

This wide view has many crops, but the olive grove is the common denominator.

Olive groves all the way to the horizon!

The above view is just across the line into the Cordoba region, so you would think that you could find an olive or a bit of olive oil in Cordoba! But this shows that there are other crops, but we're not quite sure what.

There were also a number of fields of sunflowers, but not quite as many as we saw on A-92 on the way to Seville.

Finally we reached Cordoba and are in view of the Mezquita with its tower on the left of the large enclosure. In the foreground is the Guadalquivir River and just above the river you can see the high dome and the structure of the Cathedral. The drive had taken a little less than two hours once we left the city of Malaga.

The main object of our tour was the great mosque/cathedral which is called the Mezquita (Spanish for Mosque). This is its depiction in the Seville and Andalusia guidebook.

We entered the area at the end of the ancient Roman bridge.
The bridge crossed the Guadalquivir River and our big tour bus was parked on the street beside the river.

Our tour group approaches the entrance arch which is directly across the street from the Roman bridge. It was once part of the city wall. You can see the two towers of the Cathedral, which are even more impressive from the inside.

We walked by the 18th century statue which honors St. Rafael, the city's patron saint. Then we rounded the southwest corner of the huge Mezquita enclosure. The tower across the street is the Palacio Episcopal, which now houses the tourist office.

As we walked up the street beside the massive Mezquita, the third largest mosque in the world, we could also appreciate the enormous amount of craftsmanship and work that went into the construction.

The elaborate sculpted figures mark this as part of the Christian era since the Moslems did not form images of any living thing.

This ought to be enough to convince you that this is a popular tourist attraction. Our busload from the Costa del Sol is a drop in the bucket in this street full of people. Beside us on the Calle del Torrijos is the massive wall of the Mezquita, a full block long.

Our guide got us all together in the midst of the crowd to explain how the tour of the Mezquita would work. We were to be divided into language groups with individual guides. We were each given a radio which we could tune to the same channel as our guide so we could hear in our language.

Certainly our guide was amazing. He had described the sights on the way up in English, Spanish, French and German. He spoke seven languages! But of course he couldn't do the tours in all the languages, so individual guides had been engaged.

So we located our English-speaking guide and headed into the Mezquita.


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