Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Leaving Sevilla Almagro, Spain, Monday, 11 March 2013 11:57pm

There was one major site in Sevilla that we'd totally failed to see yesterday: The Alcazar. (If we'd realized that the Alcazar closed before the Cathedral, we could have done them in the opposite order.) It's a palace that was used by both Moorish and Christian rulers, and was expanded and redecorated many times over the years. It's a fascinating combination of the Andalusian Muslim decoration and a more familiar Christian style. The geometric patterns have inset flowers and animals, and text appears in latin characters as well as arabic calligraphy. The gardens of the palace are amazing, full of tropical trees and calm pavilions. There's even a hedge maze tall enough for Adrienne to get lost in (I can see over the hedges, though).

After the Alcazar, we stopped to pick up some cookies baked by nuns and retrieved our car from the car elevator. Leaving Sevilla was as easy as we'd hoped arriving would be. A few turns down narrow streets got us to the main roads, which lead easily to the highway.

We made a stop in Córdoba. We had a delicious lunch at a Jewish restaurant (Córdoba had been a center of Jewish culture in Spain before the Reconquista), and visited the Mezquita, the former grand mosque, now a cathedral. The double arches are amazing, and the Muslim part of the structure is dim and beautiful. The cathedral is impressive, in an almost tacky way. It's much lighter and more open, but it's encrusted with gaudy decoration. We'd hoped to complete the Abrahamic trifecta and visit the synagogue in Córdoba as well, one of only three that date from before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, but it is closed on Mondays.

From Córdoba, we drove out of Andalusia and into La Mancha, through rolling hills next to olive orchards and fields. We'd meant to take a northerly route, but there was a flashing sign on the highway warning that that way was closed. All of the rain we've been seeing had caused the Guadalquivir river to flood. We saw it raging from near the Mezquita, and passed several other rivers along the way that had overrun their banks.

We're staying in a small city called Almagro in La Mancha. We had dinner at the local Parador (a state run hotel in a historic building, in this case an old monastery), which served up traditional Manchegan food. I had migas, which is a popular breakfast dish in Austin, but here is a fried egg over breadcrumbs, with various accompanying dishes: sausages, pancetta, grapes, peppers, cheese, and eggplant. Mmm.