We had quite the adventure traveling from Chefchaouen in Morocco to Codoba in southern Spain. It was a long journey with many legs. We started the day by getting up at 5:30 am, finished our packing, and then set out by foot in the dark for the 20-minute walk to the bus station. The bus departed at 7am and took us slowly along winding roads down out of the mountains and eventually, after a three-hour journey, into the Tangier bus station. The next leg was to take a ferry across to Algeciras Spain. There are several locations from which to take a ferry and for our destination we discovered the previous night, we needed to be 42 km east of Tangier, at the Tangier med port.
Luckily, just outside the bus station were “share taxis” and the route to Tangier med port was a common one. We were able to be the last two passengers in one that was heading to our ferry port immediately. The taxi got us there in about 30 minutes and we made it to the terminal by 10:35. At this point all was looking good. We planned to get the next ferry at noon and then take a train which would get us to Cordoba by about 6pm. However, that was when everything started to unravel.
The noon ferry we booked had “rotor problems” and we weren’t able to board until 1:30. By the time the ferry was fully boarded, sailed across the straight, deboarded, and we got through border control, plus had a time change of a loss of one hour, it was 5pm and we had missed our Cordoba train.
We really didn’t know what to do from here. It was getting on in the day and we weren’t sure of connections. Should we stay in Algeciras for the night and catch the train in the morning? On exiting the ferry terminal, there was a bus sitting there that said Seville. Seville is on the way to Cordoba. We decided to take the bus and see just how far we could get. A passenger on the bus was able to help us. He informed us that once we get to Seville we could take a taxi from the bus station to the train station and that there were many trains that went to Cordoba from there. The bus left at 5:30pm and took us 160 km through rolling pastures and croplands and arrived in Seville at 8pm.
It was rainy here. We took a taxi to the train station and got tickets for the fast train that would get us to Cordoba in 30 minutes and it was leaving imminently…we missed it by 1 minute (sigh). Back to the ticket office and got the cheaper “slower” train, boarded at 9pm, and arrived in Cordoba at 9:45pm. Still raining, we got another taxi from Cordoba station to our Hostel and arrived at 10pm. Walk, bus, share taxi, ferry, bus, taxi, train, taxi; we were tired but felt great, we had made it!!
Our time in Cordoba was marked by rain, from light drizzle to pouring buckets. It was raining when we arrived and the sun didn’t come out until the last few hours before we left. Despite that, we still got out and about. We took in a couple of museums and the “must see” site of the vast Islamic/Christian Mesquita Cathedral. The cathedral is a massively proportioned edifice taking up a large block amongst the tangle of small streets. It was a mosque before being converted to a cathedral after the Islamic period. It is noted for its impressive array of hundreds of red/white striped columns topped by Roman-inspired double arches, a central cathedral, ceiling paintings and designs, and many naves around the outside with Christian paintings, reliefs and tapestries. Outside is an impressive bell tower and an orange-grove garden. It took a good couple of hours to get around and soak it all in.
While in Cordoba, I went on line to book an accommodation for further on in the trip and in the process I discovered my credit card was not working. I called my provider and was redirected to their security investigation officer and discovered that someone had hacked my credit card and took $7500 cash advance in Vancouver the previous day. Yikes!! That meant my card was now cancelled and I can’t get a new card until I return to Canada, four months from now, because you have to go to the bank in person to pick it up. Very upsetting, particularly since I keep my card in an RFID folder and when I do on-line money transactions I use a VPN server. I just don’t know how someone could have got my info. Luckily I have my trusty President’s Choice debit card with me and I have found that works anywhere in the world, so I was able to get money from an ATM machine.
After three nights in Cordoba, it was time to move on to Seville. Unlike our last journey, this one was easy. A 45-minute train ride and we were there, yeah!! Seville was sunny and warm, a welcome reprieve.
Seville seemed so much more alive than Cordoba, but I think that had more to do with the weather than the people. While here, it was the start of Feria de Abril (Seville’s April Fair) when women walk around in beautiful flamenco dresses and men in their traditional suits known as “el traje corto”. It was wonderful wandering around and seeing these beautiful dresses everywhere we went. Speaking of flamenco, southern Spain is the birthplace of this style of dance and one of the fun things we did while here was take in a performance. I loved the dancing, it is simply amazing how fast they can tap their feet. I have to admit though that I don’t care for the traditional singing. I found it harsh and not very musical. That being said, a Flamenco performance was on my bucket list for the trip and I can now check that off.
We did a fair bit of walking around through parks, the old city and shopping areas. We came across one interesting site called the Mirador Mushrooms Seville. It’s a giant wooden multi-mushroom structure, located in the old quarter of the city and which people could ascend for a view of the city. It is the largest wooden structure in the world with dimensions of 150 by 70 metres and a height of 26 metres. It looked odd amongst the surrounding architecture and I really wondered how the tenants facing that square felt when it was erected, not happy, I presume.
The two major sites to see in Seville are the Cathedral and the Royal Palace (Real Alcazar). Of the two, my favourite was the cathedral. It is a huge Gothic structure with a Moorish bell tower and is Seville’s most popular site. It is the highest and largest cathedral in Spain, the largest Gothic building in the world and the world’s third-largest church, after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. Originally a mosque that was started in 1171, when the Spanish recaptured Seville from the Moors in 1248, it was reconsecrated to the Virgin Mary and used as a Christian Cathedral. On the grounds is a bell tower that is affectionately called La Giralda, meaning “she who turns” which refers to the weathervane on top which is of a statue representing faith called El Giraldillo. Also of interest, the remains of Christopher Columbus are housed here. His coffin is borne aloft by the four kings representing the medieval kingdoms of Spain: Castile, Leon, Aragon, and Navarra.
We are now leaving Spain, for the time being, and moving on to Portugal, with the first stop being Lagos.