In 450 km, take the second exit at the roundabout

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Cathedral, Cordoba

Flag of Spain  , Castile-La Mancha,
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My GPS took me a convoluted way to get out of Seville and hit the road. I drove a lot today (1 July 2013) as indicated by the blog title. When you start imitating the GPS voice, you know it's time to take a break. And I did that in Cordoba as planned. This apparently used to be the biggest city in the world at some stage (didn’t they all...) and the main attraction is the building that started as a Christian chapel, then to a mosque, then to a Cathedral and now I think it is a bit of both since it is still claimed as the one of the biggest mosques in the world and the only one remaining in Spain. The internal arches are the main attraction with the red and white layers dwarfing the huge interior. The building started construction in the year 785 and expanded over the years with many individual chapels around the outer walls. Impressive to see.

There is also a thousands year old Roman bridge in Cordoba, but it has been so heavily restored and now a walking bridge that it is hard to visualise it’s roman heritage. I had a bit of time left and so visited a museum on the torture methods used in the Spanish Inquisition which was basically all about imposing the Catholic faith on everyone after the conquest of these areas by the Catholic Kings. Only 4 rooms in the museum, but by the end it is all a bit uncomfortable to think that people were subjected to such abuse and denigration, and mostly without a trial. In fact, the trial was to torture them until they confessed and then they were put to death anyway. With this in my mind, I left Cordoba and headed further north towards Toledo to spend my final night of this break.

Toledo is like an island – almost completely encircled by the Tajo river. This has restricted its growth, and for this reason, there is a high concentration of fascinating, centuries-old buildings all within walking distance of one another. I parked up outside the city walls and had a quick walk of the streets and without a city map I quickly got lost. Although it is so small and compact that you don’t really get lost as u pop out somewhere that looks familiar. When researching this trip, I stumbled across the concept of Paradors - these are 93 government-owned sites, most of them in ancient monasteries, medieval castles and Moorish forts. So I was keen to stay in one during my trip and while the Granada one was fully booked, I was able to get into the Toledo Parador, which was originally built by the Count of Toledo in the 14th century. I’d say this is one of the lesser amazing buildings, but the remarkable thing is the view it has of the Toledo medieval city. Second to none! Very peaceful out of the main city.

I checked out fairly early on Tuesday 2 July so I could see a bit more before hitting the road at 12:30pm to make my 3:30pm flight out of Madrid airport. Toledo used to be capital of Spain and is known for the relatively stable co-existence of Jews, Muslims and Catholics over the years and synagogues and churches are packed into the tight space of the old town. I visited the Cathedral, a cool Roman bridge, bought some mini swords that Toledo is famous for, and then capped it off with a parking fine. Apparently (from what I can decipher from the Spanish ticket) I parked in a residential zone. 60 bloody euro. Not sure how to pay or even if I have to considering I’ve skipped the country.

After this farewell gift from Toledo, I hauled ass to the Madrid airport. Of course I was running a tad behind schedule but confident I wouldn’t miss my flight (not like many would be lining up to go to Ghana). The freeways were insanely overlapping and my GPS was in overdrive trying to keep me in the right lane. I think this was the worst part of the drive as taking a wrong turn could cost precious minutes and European drivers seem to all drive with the traffic flow, so if you hesitate or hog the fast lane momentarily then you’re out of sync and could end up stuck in the wrong lane. Amazingly I don’t recall being honked at for this part of the drive (don’t worry, I got more than my fair share in other places). All up I drove 1,244.3 km in these 7 days and made it to my flight with even enough time to get some duty free booze.

The flight back was half full and great to just have 5.5 hrs and be back in Accra and pretty much the same timezone (2 hrs diff). Makes a big difference not having to adjust and not having to sleep on a flight. Landing about 8pm and there was no one to pick me up. They thought I was coming in yesterday. First time this has happened to me in 2.5 yrs so I wasn’t that pissed off and luckily had the drivers number to call and he was there in 15 mins. The next day back at work we had a bunch of Corporate Office visitors and the new boss of Environment globally. What a way to return. 
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MG on

Good final blog for your trip. Glad you seemed to have a great time in Spain. I hope I get back there one day soon, luv it!

travellingross on

Gracias! Would've been better with someone else in time we run with the bulls and then chill in Ibiza.

MG on

Yes, that sounds like a winning idea! I'm so in!

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