My initial plan was to spend two days in Sevilla, two days in Córdoba, two days in Valencia, and arrive to Madrid Saturday morning. Upon arriving in Córdoba I realized that this itinerary was ridiculous and while 20-something Annise may have the energy for such mad scrambles, 37yo Annise simply doesn’t. (That is the first and last time I’ll talk in 3rd person!) So I decided to add one extra day onto Córdoba and arrive in Madrid a day earlier, omitting Valencia entirely. Córdoba is super affordable so if my Airbnb apartment would have had availability longer I probably would have stayed here until Saturday. (I stayed right across from the Mezquita, the most popular destination in all of Córdoba, located in the heart of the historic district, and only paid $120 total for 3 nights!) While saving money is great, I’m actually glad I only extended my stay in Córdoba by one day because three days here was more than enough. If I had it all to do again, I’d spend more time in Sevilla. Córdoba is charming and full of history, but much less going on. Not that I’m out partying at night, but even in terms of the type of activities you can plan- just more limited in Córdoba.
After a quick (45 minute) train ride from Sevilla, I began my visit in Córdoba with lunch at a Michelin-rated restaurant 3 blocks from my apartment. And was able to eat strictly vegetarian, which is NOT easy in this country (unless you consume some dish based on potatoes for every meal). I’d imagine the meat and seafood here are fabulous, if my meal was any indication. Also, I am positively obsessed with fried eggplant drizzled with honey! I’ve ordered this dish everywhere I can find it across Spain. The cheese added here was nice, but not necessary.
And while I’m showing food photos, I’ll just throw in what I have learned is THE traditional Spanish breakfast (some type of bread, toasted, with a bit of olive oil and tomato and/or ham- I obviously stuck with just tomato, and a coffee). All for $1.50! Also, fun note about coffee here: it really is better everywhere because there’s no such thing as drip coffee. A “café con leche” (coffee with milk) is an espresso with steamed milk. In other words, a latte! ❤️ That is probably my fave thing about Spanish gastronomy. I also love the different flavors of chips/crisps you find in the grocery store. Have to admit: I was not tempted to try Andy of these. And just for fun, I snapped a photo of a legit, city installed road sign to… McDonald’s?!?!
As with Sevilla, I spent the first day finding my way around and not worrying too much about visiting tourist sites. Found charming streets, beautiful architecture, and a fantastic tank top in one of the stores. And I did laundry and learned a valuable lesson: you can own something for years, wash it countless times, and it can still bleed and turn your (new!) bikini bottoms and a pair of socks pink 🤣
While the Mezquita is the #1 tourist site in the city, Córdoba is also quite known for numerous Roman relics. In particular, the bridge, which is stunning at night, and the former Roman Temple. The night shots are some of my fave of the entire trip (as far)!
Finally, shots of the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba). You can Wikipedia for a full history, but the cliff notes version: originally, the Basilica of St. Vincent occupied the site. But in 784 A.D., when the Moors (Arabs/Muslims) rules the area, they constructed the Mosque over the same site. The Mosque remains one of the most important Moorish architectural structures. For a period of time, the Moors and Catholics shared the building cooperatively. But when Christians reclaimed power in Córdoba, the church officially became Catholic (exclusively) and has remained so ever since. What I found most interesting was all the remnants of the mask that remain on the interior and exterior. The Catholic Church just built in addition to the mask, rather than destroying or covering it all up. Stunning building, definitely worth a visit! Also, a tip: entrance is free daily between 8:30-9:30am. After that, you have to pay. So go early to avoid heat, crowds, and for free entry!
I took the train (66€) about two hours to Madrid, arriving early afternoon on 22 June. The purpose of this stop was to drop off my extra luggage with Alison, a friend from college (Go Irish!) who is now living in Madrid and kindly agreed to store my bag while I hike the Camino. After so much running around the last week (and, with temperatures at/above 100 daily) I decided to use the 1.5 days I had in Madrid to relax. So instead of a hostel or another Airbnb, I booked myself a room at the Hotel Emperador, based on reviews that it has one of the best rooftop pools and views in the city. It did not disappoint! I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at the pool and met two absolutely charming and wonderful new friends, Cord and Jeffrey. (Wish I had more time with them, because… precious! But so glad we all met and now I have another reason to visit NorCal.) These guys currently live in San Francisco, but Jeffrey is actually from St. Louis- and grew up visiting family in New Madrid so he’s plenty familiar with my hometown in southeast MO! Such a small world!
And now for a few more photos of the fabulous rooftop pool and view of Madrid (from the roof) at sunset.
Because I had SO much fun with Inma in Sevilla, even before I saw how fabulous the photos were (are!), I booked another Airbnb Experience with her in Madrid. Luckily for me, she travels to Madrid most weekends and does photos shoots there. As with Sevilla, it was a great excuse to see part of the city (in fact, this was the only touristing I did while in Madrid). I’m sharing a few photos of the sites we visited, as well as the absolutely wonderful Mercado San Miguel, where I had evening tapas and wine. I loved this market and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Madrid! So much great food for just about all diets too.
Finally, the highlight of Madrid was spending time with Allison and meeting her brother and several family friends. (Everyone reading this, please say a prayer or send good juju to “Michael”.) While Allison and I knew each other in college, we didn’t get to know each other well until the last several years, as adults. I love relationships that continue to grow! Strong, smart, independent women are definitely my faves. Had such a fun night with this group, such a fabulous way to end my brief visit to Madrid.