Córdoba out and back - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 18, 2019

Córdoba out and back

The day gets off to the shaky start, with a mishap descending the stairs to breakfast.  This is one of those precarious stairwells with a ninety degree bend in the middle but without a platform at the bend.  Instead, the steps taper to a point at the inner end.  Not yet stimulated by my morning coffee I’m only half alert and don’t notice this, and my foot slips off the lip and I collapse onto the stairwell.  Fortunately I have a hand on the rail and can partially catch myself and avoid tumbling down the stairs, but I land hard enough that it’s frightening.  I’m slow to get up, testing whether everything is fine, and worry especially about my troublesome knees.  I seem to have survived it okay, but I’m sure it will set me back for walking in the coming days.  Lucky it wasn’t worse.

Which reminds me of an omission from yesterday’s entry.  Rachael fell here too!  It seems innocent enough but we’re apparently lodging in a dangerous hotel.  She slipped in the shower while we were recovering from our cold, wet ride.  The floor of the shower was very slick, maybe residue from the cleaning product.  She came down hard, let out a yelp, scared us both.  She’s more or less fine too, other than a bruised hip and a stiffness and soreness that she’ll feel in the coming days.  Lucky it wasn’t worse.

After breakfast we walk to the Mezquita, arriving about ten minutes before it opens.  A crowd quickly assembles behind us, but we are one of the first to enter and enjoy the luxury of seeing this incomparable monument/mosque/cathedral nearly empty.  I’m going to post a separate photo gallery from this  visit, but in the meantime here’s a small sampling.

in the Mezquita
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In the Mezquita
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Bruce LellmanWow, this is kind of mesmerizing.
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Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanMy reaction too. I don’t know of any other place like this.
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The sun is at just the right angle so that light streaming through the stained glass windows reaches the floor.
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After visiting the Mezquita, the main event for the day is an afternoon ride out into the countryside.  First though, we decide the prudent action is to bike over to the train station to confirm that we can take our bikes on the train from here to Malaga (more background on this later).  It’s about a mile and a half away, a fairly easy ride - like all of the other larger cities we’ve seen in Andalucia, Cordoba is much more bike friendly than when we first visited 15 years ago.  

The train station is bustling, and there’s a short line queued up at the ticket counter.  There’s a number dispenser, and I pick my slot - 93.  Not bad - there are three agents, and they’re currently serving 89.  Five minutes later, they’re still on 89.  It takes 20 minutes until my turn finally arrives, long enough for me to have a nice chat with a couple from Houston that are in the process of moving to the Hill Country west of Austin.  They’re a bit nonplussed when they hear of what Rachael and I are doing with our lives - they’ve never heard of anyone doing anything remotely like this.  The woman bicycles a bit though, and did take one ‘tour’ in her life so she can relate - a two day overnight of about 50 miles, many years ago.

Finally my number is called.  I walk up and pose my question in very broken Spanish (he doesn’t speak English, of course).  As soon as he hears the word bicycle, he shakes his head; then rethinks and pantomimes a wrapping motion.  I ask about the bus, and he points off through the wall behind me somewhere and calls out the next number.  I’m probably there less than a minute before being summarily dismissed.

The bus station, which is adjacent to the train station, is also bustling.  The woman at the information desk does speak a bit of English, is very helpful, and tells us all we need to know.  Yes, we can take bikes, but they’ll cost extra.  Here are tomorrow’s departure times.  Here are the hours when the ticket office (currently closed for lunch) will be open.  We should arrive a half hour early.

Reassured with our new information, we bike back to the hotel for a few last tasks before setting out on our ride.  It’s another out and back, heading east of the city on the same road we followed when we left Córdoba fifteen years ago.  it’s one in the afternoon once we finally start, so we time box ourselves and agree to turn back by around threeish so we won’t have concerns about getting back before sundown.

CO-3024 is a fantastic cycling road. Two miles from town you’re in country like this, with no end of it in sight.
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I have warm memories of this road from our last visit.  We followed it all the way to its end and then continued on to Castro del Rio and finally Baena.  It was earlier in the autumn then, late in September, and the endless rolling fields of grain hadn’t been cut yet.  They’re shorn now, leaving a different but still spectacular look behind.

Riding can’t get any better than this.  Once we leave the outskirts of Cordoba (very easily done in this direction), we really do have the world to ourselves.  We’re passed by a very few cars in the next few miles, but after that none at all until we’ll after we have turned back to town.  I’m pretty sure we biked a solid hour and a half without seeing another soul, on road or off.

One regret from the day: Rachael somehow forgot to reload the SD card into her GoPro, so there’s no video for the ride.  She’ll put a backup in her under bag (along with the spare battery, which is already there) so this doesn’t happen again.

I remember this serpentine! How wonderful to get to ride it again, and this time in both directions.
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This is it for company for the next hour and a half - just myself and my thoughts, and an occasional glimpse of Rachael.
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Step ladder
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Jen GrumbyWow! This looks like a scene from a dream.

The combination of gentle rolling hills and soft shadows is very calming.

Maybe I'll go take a nap now.
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Bruce LellmanReminiscent of the Palouse in southeastern Washington state.
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Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI’ve been saying for years that we need to fit in a tour of the Palouse, but we’re never here at the best times. I’m thinking I might just suck it up and go on my own this summer when it’s too hot.
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Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonBelieve me, after experiencing the humidity we are experiencing right now the Palouse at 100 degrees would be a breeze because there is no humidity there. I say, suck it up Scott.
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Great both directions, and great seeing it again under a different light. When Rachael descended this (she’s gotten a bit ahead of me here), she saw a group of skateboarders walking their way back up to the top for another run.
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The Roman bridge, and the Mezquita.
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I like the way the Guadalquivir is banded here, from the light streaming through the bridge’s arches.
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For dinner we walk past the Mezquita again to another restaurant we spotted last night, Patio Romano.  You never know in a larger, touristy place like this, so we had booked a reservation.  When we enter the nearly empty restaurant we state that we have a reservation, and our greeter/server immediately says ‘Scott’.  We’re his only reservation for the night, and other than the family already seated when we arrived, we are apparently his only customers.  The restaurant is empty when we leave.

Torre Campanario, the bell tower of the Mezquita, is the tallest structure in Córdoba. You can climb its stairs for a presumably awesome view, although we didn’t.
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One of the external doors through the Mezquita walls.
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Ride stats today: 44 miles, 3,100’; for the tour, 1,771 miles, 57,000’

Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 1,771 miles (2,850 km)

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Bruce LellmanYou two be careful from now on!
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3 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyYes! No more falling.

Glad you both bounced back quickly.
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Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyBounced is the right verb, alright.
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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetI'm glad you got off lucky on your stair incident!

Both flights of stairs in our townhouse have corners like that, so I'm very used to them. I also need to carry my bike up and down every time I go for a ride and I've learned that it's way easier if the bike is on the inside of the corner (both for safety and for keeping the walls cleaner).
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI’ve got them down pretty well too, since you see them everywhere over here - along with rough, irregular surfaces. Who knows what happened this time? I blame the fact that I hadn’t had coffee yet, but if you do anything a million times, eventually something misfires. The luck is having it happen without a grim outcome.
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