The second part of my first real trip – Spain on bicycle, which I did 8 years ago, at the age of 19. I hope that you remember from the first and second part (http://flyingpolack.com/en/2015/11/flying-polack-on-bike-through-spain-part-1/ ; http://flyingpolack.com/en/2015/12/flying-polack-on-bike-through-spain-part-2/) that the whole text wasn’t created solely from my memories, but mostly from my travel diary that I was conducting that time. Thus, in many places you’ll read point of view , emotions that I had that time and contemporary, youthful perception of the world surrounding me. Forgive me sometimes the lack of photographs and their quality, but have in mind different type the camera I was using that time and above all lower skills :) Okay, let’s go! :D
August 12th, 11.30 pm, Granada
Finally, I entered to Andalusia and straight to one of its brightest gems, to Granada. Who has not seen Granada, he has seen nothing – Spanish proverb, which admittedly I could argue, keeping in mind how much can offer my beloved homeland :D, but nevertheless, I totally agree.
The city is almost overwhelming with number of monuments and places of historical symbolic. I started the day at the tapas bar. I have to remember to eat, because even though I eat quite a lot, plus Spanish cuisine isn’t fit either, the weight of my body is still falling.
With a full belly, I went to a huge Gothic-Renaissance cathedral (67 x 116 m), where were buried so called Catholic Monarchs – Isabella I Catholic, and her husband, Ferdinand II the Catholic, who in the XV century led troops of Reconquest (war of Christians to kick out from Iberian Peninsula, where today is Spain and Portugal, Muslim Moors).
Iberian Peninsula in the XIII century, was mostly occupied by Arabs who later were gradually ousted by Catholics until 1492 when fall last bastion of Muslims – Granada. The acquisition date keys to the city was immortalized by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz on an amazing painting (at least acc. to me, please have in mind that I know about art as much as about math…) Surrender of Granada.
I was continuing visiting the city until I came to the gypsy district, from where I was quickly drove out by… the locals (as you can see, I was always attracted by strange places;) )
In the afternoon I met with Susan, a couchsurfer, who decided to host me. Susana is a Yoga teacher and without a doubt is made for this. During a conversation with her, by the tone of her voice, manner of speaking, it beats some weird energy that makes me to drift away and relax :)
In the evening, she took me up the hill, which stretched to an amazing view of the city and its main attraction – Alhambra. View of the walls of the palace among of trees and mountains lit by the moon was one the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen (now 8 years later I can still maintain this opinion!).
And all that in the accompaniment of a peaceful Andalusian sounds coming from the instrument, played by the older man sitting a few steps below us.
Afterwards we walked to the tapas bar, where we ordered a beer joined by the free tapas in the form of toast with tuna. During the chat, among others, we were discussing how the great idea is couchsurfing.com. Because how I could reach these magical places, if not taken by the local?
August 13th, 12.00 AM, Granada
The next day was entirely devoted to the castle towering over Granada and its main attraction, which is the Alhambra, which I visited both during the day and after dark.
Alhambra – Moorish Khalif’s fortress is a monument of Arab construction in Europe, and is a monument of the highest class. When in the XIII century in Europe clumsy Romanesque architecture was slowly turning into a little more sophisticated gothic, the Muslims with their architectural style were already 100 years further.
Alhambra simply enchanted me. It was a fortress and because of its role, it had to be be surrounded by solid walls. However, among those walls is hidden light, architectural finesse.
All hand-crafted ornaments, were worked out in detail. But it couldn’t be otherwise, when presenting verses of the holy book of the Muslims – Koran.
When the Catholic Monarchs conquered it, the Vatican ordered to demolish the sanctuary. However, King Ferdinand II, delighted with what he saw firmly forbidden to move anything. As a compromise, in the middle of the fortress, later, a baroque palace was built for King Charles V of Habsburg, which, really beautiful in its ornamentation though, simply doesn’t fit there.
However, Charles V, like his predecessors, was charmed by the Alhambra and whenever was staying in Granada, he always preferred to stay in the Arab chambers, instead of in the brand new baroque palace.
August 14th, 09.30 PM, somewhere between Granada and Cordoba
Yesterday late in the evening, leaving already the Alhambra I saw a young Frenchman, who without any embarrassment was washing in the public fountain. From word to word it turned out that Pierre, also is cycling around Spain, but sleeping in tents and having a bath whenever is possible.
I was so inspired by the French, that also decided to spend one night under the open sky. Considering the fact that the distance to be traveled between Granada and Cordoba is almost 180 km through extremely mountainous region, having the stop in the middle of the tour seemed like a good idea.
Although I have no tent but whatever! In the end climate is almost like in the desert, so it’s incredibly hot!
Ending today pedaling got a text message from my mother, do I already found accommodation in some nice little hotel. I replied that yes, I have found. And cheap! I lied to save my mom nerves of his only child. So I feel justified :)
Then I got the text message from my father, who also demanded greetings. And even though I always had much better contact with my mom, that text from “daddy” really warmed my heart :) Am I beginning to miss home?
August 15th, 07.00 PM, Cordoba
I’m now sitting, already in Cordoba, in the cozy restaurant waiting for gazpacho (a local soup) and pizza. This sleeping in the open air, to put it mildly, wasn’t entirely a good idea… Yes, the night was beautiful. Full of stars, the moon etc. Worse with the sleep itself.
As a bad served me… towel, so I felt literally every pebble that was under him. “I felt”, however, is huge understatement. These damn was digging into my skull, back, ass, hips, heels. Wherever my body had contact with the ground.
I woke up every half hour. Not only from inconvenience but mainly from the cold! Who would have thought that in such Andalusia, where the day temperature in the shade reaches 38 degrees Celsius at night will fall so much that the mouth produces a pair?! (Young and stupid;] )
At 6 in the morning I was already jumping in place to warm up and waited, until the sun comes up from behind the mountains. The sun, which by day I hated, and of which now I prayed for.
Finally, it came up, and I started pedaling. About 12.00 noon the sun began to burn so much that it made me forget about the cold plagued me at night and back started to hate it. About 3 pm, I finally arrived to Cordoba. About 90 km on the mountain done. Satisfied, though slightly worried about a little pain in the knee.
Cordoba is my first stop where most of the time I should be alone. No accommodation with someone, no meetings, no events. Walking, pedaling, partying is a cool thing, but tiring as well. So now useful to me will be some easiness.
August 16th, 09.40 PM, Cordoba
I’m sitting just on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, with views of the Roman bridge connecting both banks and the Mezquita on the other side. Nightfall, also highlighted the ancient structures seem even more beautiful than during the day. Beautiful view, nice breeze, quiet atmosphere, feels good :)
The day started with a main attraction of the city, which is mentioned above, La Mezquita. Dating back to the VIII century Great Mosque, rebuilt later by Spaniards.
Also after winning by the Reconquista Cordoba, the Vatican wanted to demolish the mosque and build cathedral here (before the arrival of the Arabs was a Christian church built by the Visigoths). However, the Catholic Monarchs delighted with what they found here, stated that if will fall even one brick from the tabernacle, then they’ll cut hands not only of the workers, but also of the persons ordering.
Again resorted to one of the methods of conflict resolution – a compromise. Well, in the middle of the mosque they built… small Gothic cathedral. King Charles V of Habsburg said later you have destroyed something that was unique and you put something that can be seen everywhere.
La Mezquita is the largest mosque in Europe (23 thousand square meters) and one of the most beautiful in the world. Thanks largely to the forest of columns, which were designed in such a manner by the architect to cause the impression that the building is greater than in reality.
August 17th, 11.30 PM, Cordoba
Day spent on continuing exploration of Cordoba, where most of the time took me to visit the Alcazar, a castle, built by the Arabs, and in the XIV century, rebuilt on the European style.
Walking among such beautiful gardens and cooling ponds was just perfect in such a hot day.
On the evening I went back to the bench on the banks of the Guadalquivir River with fantastic views of the Mezquita and ancient bridge. I was just sitting and relaxing, and all of a sudden approaches me a Basque (Pais Basco – one of the northern parts of Spain), whom I met in the morning moved into my room (till that time I was alone in a 3 person room in hostel).
He brought a few beers. On the proposal to have a cool drink I happily agreed.
The guy – about 40 something, slightly lower than me, stocky with raven hair. We talked about ETA and the seek of the Basque independence. He assured me that the actions of ETA supports only up to 5% of the community. The rest just wants independence and is strongly against the use of violence for this purpose. His opinion to Madrid he expressed as follows: government in Madrid is fucking us, you know ?! Fucking us! :)
As for its relation to the rest of the Spaniards, of course, not much sympathy has for the people of Castile, about Andalusians bluntly states that they’re so lazy that even words they don’t spell to the end. And indeed, in Andalusia you get the impression that the locals cut off some letters from the end of the words.
As it turned out, he slso worked with the Poles, about which of course he had very good opinion :D Poles are like the Basques. They like to drink, but whenever you have to wake up and go to work to work hard you do it. Nice :)
Ok, it’s time to sleep. Tomorrow wake up at dawn and I’m going to Seville. I feel rested. So to these 120 km I approach optimistically :)