28 April 2014, Monday
Even before the start of my trip, I was counting down to the day I will be in Andalusia. Yearning for peace and quiet time. Had enough of concrete jungle back at home. People watching at Madrid station whilst the sun rays glared through the windows, was simply comforting in the cold Spring morning.
The moment we reached Cordoba station, we went to Tourist Information counter to purchase our bus tickets to Medina Al Zahra (Az Zahra).
Our hotel, Las Casas de la Judeira, was just a 10-minute taxi ride from the station. The hotel is a charming place with huge rooms by European standard. Rates are pretty high in spring, almost double than what I paid for in winter.
It would be an incomplete stay without visiting the Mezquita, our first historical site visit. Do get your tickets at the automated ticket machine if the queue at the ticketing counter is long. Second visit is more intriguing though I miss the fresh looking oranges in the courtyard which were not in season.
I love the view from Roman Bridge, crossing the Guadalquivir river. To better understand the history of Cordoba, visit Torre de la Calahorra Museum. Give yourself some time to be lost in the streets of Cordoba. You will definitely find hidden gems like small museums and quaint cafes.
29 April 2014, Tuesday
On our second day, we woke up early to catch our bus to Medina Al Zahra. That is one historical site which many travelers forget to visit or group tours conveniently omit from the itinerary. Arrive early at the bus stop. There was a lady who was last in queue and did not get to board the bus.
Purchase the museum tickets on site. You will first be treated to an impressive documentary on Medina Al Zahra. Walk through the exhibits and then a bus will take you to the site few minutes away. Travel back in time and imagine yourself in the once thriving Islamic city as you explore the site.
I walked alone as Nihla and I lost each other from the beginning. It was an emotional walk for me. A distant memory and a could-have-been thoughts. Horses galloping entering the royal grounds. Sound of azan (call to prayer) from the city’s mosque. Hustling and bustling in the souq. And reminiscing the first time I was there with my bestie.
Keep track of time so you won’t miss the ride home!
*Bring a light jacket for Madrid and Barcelona in Spring. Andalusia is hot (could be uncomfortable) and sunny in Spring but with cool mornings.
*There are quite a number of halal restaurants. We went to El Sultan (Moroccan cuisine) and Laor Kebab (Turkish, Indian & Pakistani cuisine).