Cordoba & Seville Trip
39 members of the U3A Vall del Pop left Xalo promptly at 10am, for Cordoba on Tuesday, May 9th. Salvador, from Viajes MCO, Pego, accompanied us all the way, and of course, our DeniBus coach driver, Antonio, was in charge so the rest of us chatted, relaxed and took in the changes of scenery as our journey progressed. We arrived in Cordoba to the Hotel Cordoba Center, for the early evening and we were soon comfortably in our allocated rooms. The next decision was where to eat, thankfully, there were bars and restaurants close by.
Thursday 10th May we were ready to explore some of the city with a guided tour of the Mezquita - Cathedral de Cordoba. We had a really enthusiastic guide, with great knowledge and passion for her subject. The red and white Arches of the Mosque seemed to keep appearing in all directions, and we were informed that upcycling and recycling is not a new concept. Many pillars and columns were reused from Roman times. Just when you think it can’t offer any more, you find yourself in The Basilica, with vaulted ceiling, carved mahogany walls and seats, frescos and golden alter. In all a beautiful and interesting building, offering textures and decorations that blend the Muslim and Christian places of worship.
Cordoba is known for its colourful floral patio displays in May each year, and this was an important part of our itinerary. An evening guided walking tour was arranged through some of the tiny streets. There were patios of all sizes, with an array of pots and containers of carnations, geraniums, begonias, and foliage plants in niches and hanging from the balconies and walls, in a rainbow of colours, looking splendid in the evening sunshine. Most of us didn’t fancy doing all the watering.! It’s all part of a huge competition throughout the city and we only managed to see a fraction of them. It would take a week to see them in their entirety, without all the tours of the monuments.
Thursday, 11th May, onwards heading to Seville passing the stork nests on the pylons and the beautiful sunflower fields on the way. We arrived at the Hotel Abadas Benacazon, some 25km outside the city of Seville and took lunch at the patio bar before an evening trip into Seville. We started at the Plaza de Espana, and what an experience and marvel. Surprisingly, not an ancient monument, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque, Renaissance, and Moorish Revival styles of Spanish architecture.
We finished on the coach for a taster tour of the city, finishing at the quayside, where we embarked on a cruise with commentary of the River Guadalquivir, a pleasant end to our day.
Friday 12th May, we went into Seville, split into two groups with our guides, setting off for the Reales Alcazares, to enjoy the history, spectacle and context of the oldest Royal palace in Europe, built for King Pedro ( the cruel) of Castile by Castilian Christians on the site of an Abbadid Muslim alcazar, or residential fortress. The palace is an example of the Mudejar style of the Iberian Peninsula. Rooms and courtyards decorated with arabesque tiles and friezes of interlacing semi-circular arches. Peacocks roam in the palace gardens.
Our tour then moved to the Cathedral. The most noticeable features are the choir loft, and the Gothic devotional retablo of carved scenes of the life of Christ. The alter is a masterpiece, the work of Pierre Dancart, lots of gold. For the fit and brave, there was the opportunity to climb ‘La Giralda’ bell tower.
Later that day, some members headed for the Lagoh shopping centre, including Primark, usual Spanish chain stores together with some individual boutiques and a decent art shop.
Saturday, 13th May, a changed schedula found us in a small town, El Rocio, on the edge of the Donana National Park with lakes, flamingos and birds of prey. The town is rather Mexican in style, with a central Church and various shops and restaurants surrounding it. With roads of sand, horses and carriages are an attractive diversion for tourists, as well as a sensible option for the few residents of the town. We just happened to get ‘invited’ to a wedding too. There was a decorated carriage, set of four horses and two handsome caballeros in attendance. The ceremony culminated with the newly-weds’ first dance on the steps of the Church.
Getting back to our hotel, huge celebrations were in full flow for the Primera Communions. Hats Off, to the hotel, there must have been six full banquet rooms or marquees they were catering and serving to all day. In the circumstances, the only option for us was to join in with the dancing and singing and try to get served at the bar.!
All good things have to come to an end, and Sunday 14th May it was time to head back to Xalo.
[Article written by Sally Ellis]
[Photos from U3A members]