Reluctantly leaving the city of Cadiz behind, Debs and I began our journey north on the final leg of our road trip Spain. Cordoba, Cuenca and Teruel were our final destinations and Cordoba was the place that I had been looking forward to the most.
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In Cordoba our accommodation was in an AirBnB apartment where we stayed with the friendliest family ever just outside the old city walls (to earn a discount on your AirBnB stay click through this link)
Our hosts Quique and Valle were amazing and enthusiastically gave us tons of information about the things to see and do in their home town, proudly telling us how we could save money and what we really shouldn’t miss. They gave us some great tips, such as…
- Visit the Mezquita when it opens at 8/8.30 am and you not only get free entry for the first forty five minutes but you can get the amazing mosque with its many pillars virtually to yourself.
- Go to the Victoria Market – a food hall in its glass box structure for a flavour of the southern specialities
- Buy very cheap beer and wine in the little Que Canas bar and choose free tapas from a huge list. Not only free, these tapas were enormous, eliminating the need to buy lunch or dinner.
Although the autumn air had turned chilly we could see the many pretty patios and courtyards which locals decorate with flowers during the spring and summer and are quite rightly, a huge tourist attraction.
We crossed the old arched bridge that spanned the Guadalquivir River and we wandered around the Jewish quarter and the historical centre.
The highlight of Cordoba for me was a visit on my birthday, courtesy of Debs, to a demonstration of the magnificent trained horses of the Royal Stables. The show at the Cordoba Equestrian Centre was truly spectacular as skilled riders showed what their animals could do – the steeds perform intricate dressage steps perfectly in time with each other and with the music.
As usual, we hunted out a free (for tips) walking tour, this time with Cordoba a Pie and Ricardo led us around the best sites and the narrow cobbled streets. Like many small towns, these maze like streets were built in this confusing way for a purpose – here in Cordoba it was mainly to preserve privacy of the rich Muslins with dead ends ending in the beautiful courtyards. Ricardo showed us El Panuelo (Tissue Street) which is said to be the narrowest street in Europe and the Roman Temple as well as the arched Roman bridge and the impressive gate at one end of it.
And the Mezquita was spectacular. We were actually the first ones through the door when it opened in the morning (the first 45 minutes are free admission), and the early start was worth the effort as we more or less had the place to ourselves. First Moorish then later Christian the hall of pillars oozes a calm and a spirituality.
After Cordoba we were off to another city beginning with the letter ‘C’….
Driving in to Cuenca with a useless map it took us a couple of hours to find our small pension that we had reserved. Next time I do a road trip I think that I will treat myself to a Sat Nav (this one by TomTom covers Western Europe too) By the time we settled in it was dark so we wandered around in the cold for a bit, finding a cute bar to sit in and recovering from the stress of driving where we probably weren’t supposed to drive. I regretted breaking my rule of checking behind me when walking when, at midnight, standing in a dark street and confronted by a bank of old wooden doors that all looked the same, we realised that we didn’t have a clue where we lived. We had earlier left our room which was in an annexe of the hotel without checking the address!
Refreshed after a decent night’s sleep once we found the correct front door that our key fit
ted, Debs and I set out the next morning to explore. The temperature was a frosty zero degrees, in stark contrast to the twenty six degrees that we had been baking in in Alicante just a couple of weeks before, so we walked briskly to the top of the old town and we crossed the scary metal bridge to take a look at the famous hanging houses of Cuenca.
The bridge was scary because of its height but also because the wooden floor was lethally slippery and the parapets were rather low. There are not so many of the hanging houses left in Cuenca now in Cuenca now, but they are very pretty. Dating back a few centuries the wooden balconies hang out high above the ravine which must give one an amazing feeling as you dine inside at the windows or simply stare out over the scenery.
As Debs and I climbed the track behind the old town we couldn’t believe the views and I would certainly like to return and hike some of the many footpaths and trails in the area. Much of Cuenca has been built along the top of a sharp ridge that falls steeply to both sides down to rivers below but the views and the surrounding countryside are very pretty.
As part of my attempts to improve my Spanish, Debs was pushing me to chat to random strangers. In the streets in the upper part of Cuenca my victim was a street cleaner. Happy to lean on his broom for a while after I had asked him the best place for a coffee, he chatted away to us and then he pointed out a mountain that was painted with a pair of blue eyes. With the overhanging rock-face the eyes looked just like a lady wearing a hijab. We would probably never have spotted it if I hadn’t spoken to my ‘victim’ and he told us about a doomed love story between a Christian man and a Muslim lady. He painted her eyes high above the town so that she would never be forgotten.
Our final destination was…
I had never heard of the town but Debs had added it to our list because it is always highlighted on the Spanish weather channel with its extremes of temperatures. Apparently it gets scorching hot in the summer but we were there as a cold snap hit the south of Spain and it felt Arctic.
Our arrival was funny as Debs drove up and down one of the streets about 10 times and I tried to spot our hotel that we had booked. Google maps, and the street signs were telling us that we were in the correct place but for the life of me I couldn’t spot the entrance among all of the little shops. Parking up to ask somebody we fell about laughing as we realised that we had totally discounted the large 3 star hotel – the Isabel de Segura on the corner of the street, but which was our super bargain for the night. Check out the latest prices here
We had gone from being squashed together in the smallest tent on the planet, to a wooden shed in the mountains to a 3 star hotel.
In the same way as searching for the hotel, we also searched for ages for the square with the statue of the bull in the centre. That was also a trick that Teruel played on us because the bull was quite tiny and stuck up high on a column – we had walked past it several times without spotting it.
Teruel was interesting but at the end of our tour was like the warm-down after an exercise class.
The next day Debs pointed Betty the Berlingo north east and we headed on back towards Catalunya.
Our trip had taken 20 days, we had slept in twelve different places and we had driven more than 2000kms.
If you would like to read about the trip in its entirety you can click on the following links. Feel free to message me with any questions that you may have as I am more than happy to answer anything about our destinations
- Stage 1: Alicante to San Jose, via Cartagena, Bolnuevo & Mazarron
- Stage 2: Cabo de Gato, the Sierra Nevada & Granada
- Stage 3: Granada & Ronda
- Stage 4: Cadiz & Jerez
- Stage 5: Seville
- Stage 6: This article: Cordoba, Cuenca & Teruel
You can find information and the best prices for the hotels, hostels and campsites where we stayed in the relevant articles, or in the round up below, and for more information, why not read the Lonely Planet Guide to Spain…Buy Now!
Camping Alpujarras, Laroles, Sierra Nevada, click here for latest prices
Bungalow Camping Trevelez, Sierra Nevada Check the bungalows out here
Granada – Camping Motel Sierra Nevada – we camped but bungalows are available
Ronda – Pension Rondasol – find out more here
Cadiz – See availabilty for the Casa Caracol here
Seville – AirBnB
Cordoba – AirBnB
Teruel – Hotel Isabel de Segura – 3* hotel – Best prices here
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