We’re well and truly back in Spain now, and it looks like we’re set to stay for awhile. Now, we’ve just got to get used to these Andalusian accents!

Monday 12/11: All I wanted to do in the morning was publish the travel diary, but there was something wrong with the server and I couldn’t upload the photos. After much wasting of time and gnashing of teeth, we cut our losses and headed out for the day. We did at least manage to record the podcast before we went.

Diorama inside the museum in Córdoba.
As we walked out of the restaurant where we’d had lunch, I noticed a phone box and decided to make the phone call I’d been dreading — to Jazztel, which was our internet provider in A Coruna. I’d tried to pay the final balance before we left Spain but they’d said I couldn’t… And I couldn’t call from any other country later on because Skype has blocked their number and I refuse to pay international rates to pay a bill. Surprisingly, though, this last call went very smoothly: a pleasant call centre operator took the credit card details and the payment went through without problems. When I hung up the phone I felt light and free, like a huge weight was off my shoulders — honestly, it brightened my entire day. I don’t really want to think about the fact that we’ll probably be starting the whole process all over again in a week or so.

Our couchsurfing host Luis had recommended we visit la Calahorra tower, so we walked across the Roman bridge to check it out. It was very interesting, a well-curated small museum with lots of audio commentary, with a focus on 11th century Cordoba.

Next, we headed to the Alcázar, Córdoba’s main tourist attraction. We wandered through the palace’s corridors, checked out the view from the top of the tower, and explored the gardens — it was all very impressive.

Gardens at the Alcázar, Córdoba.

We’d arranged to meet Luis at 7.30 to attend a lecture about something, but Craig needed to edit the podcast. So we dropped home and picked up the laptop and he sat at the back of the lecture hall while I tried to accustom myself to the Andalusian accents of the speakers — historians introducing the new edition of a magazine, which focused on the middle ages.

After a cup of tea in an Arabic teahouse, Luis cycled off to visit a couple of exhibitions, and Craig and I walked back to the Alcázar. Our entrance ticket also gave us access to a night show, which featured two cinematic presentations on different walls of the complex as well as three or four light-and-water displays in the fountains.

Luis and his girlfriend Shaira met up with us after the show ended and we spent a couple of hours eating tapas, drinking wine, and chatting.

Tuesday 13/11: We’d planned to get up early and visit the cathedral before we left Córdoba, but we kept hitting snooze on the alarms and actually ended up having to rush to get to the train station.

Oddly, we had to pass through a security check and display our tickets before being allowed on the platform — it was a good thing we arrived with a few minutes to spare. We had to do the same for our journey from Zaragoza to Córdoba, I wonder if it’s just for the long-distance trains or if they’re rolling it out for all rail journeys.

The ceiling of the Alhambra, Granada.
We were well looked after on the train, the compartment was almost empty and we were served a snack, coffee and drinks. The journey was smooth and uneventful and we soon found ourselves in Granada.

We’d decided to stay in a hotel in the city centre after two accommodation offers had fallen through, but we hadn’t made a reservation. Although there were rooms available, the receptionist couldn’t offer us the same rate we’d seen on booking.com, but she was quite happy for us to sit in the lounge to make the booking online. So we did.

Our room was small but clean and quiet, and we had a private bathroom too — excellent value for €20. Lunch was a delicious medio menu at a nearby bar, after which we wandered around town for awhile, stopping at a supermarket to pick up supplies. We spent the evening in, watching Spanish TV (I love Ahora Caigo!).

Wednesday 14/11: Since the entire city was closed for the general strike, and because we were very tired, we decided to have a day off as well — a virtual Sunday. We stayed in bed until late then set off to find an open restaurant for lunch, which ended up being more expensive and not as tasty as we’d hoped. In the afternoon I replied to all the emails in my inbox, which had been piling up, while Craig got a bit of work done.

For dinner, we’d seen a sign advertising all-you-can-eat tapas for €3, which seemed like a great deal — but it wasn’t. The tapas were mostly small rolls made with slightly stale bread and the drinks were expensive.

Thursday 15/11: The one thing you HAVE to do in Granada is visit the Alhambra. This complex of palaces, fortress and gardens is perched on the top of a hill just behind the town, and deserves its reputation. We dragged ourselves out of bed early and walked through the palace forest up to the ticket office, and luckily managed to get morning tickets — if we’d got afternoon ones we’d have had to wait until 2pm.

Inside the Alhambra.

The Alhambra consists of four areas which you need a ticket to enter, and one which is free to explore. We tried to plan our time carefully so we that we’d enter the last place just before 2pm when our tickets expired, and we did quite well. The buildings were amazing, full of history and excellent views, and the gardens were well laid out and pleasant to stroll through. In the museum, we were taken under the wing of a member of staff, who was enchanted by the idea that we were Kiwis and amazed that we spoke Spanish. He showed us around a couple of the rooms in the museum, which was good because there was a supreme lack of information panels.

We had lunch back at Ungrit, where we ate on Tuesday, where the food was awesome but the service was spectacularly bad.

At 4pm we met Martina, who’d had to take back her offer to host us when the spare bedroom flooded. She took us for a walk around the Albaycin and Sacremonte, showing us her favourite places and telling us a bit of history — it was great.

We stopped in a bar for a drink and a tapa, then dropped by Martina’s place to pick up her boyfriend Rob (and to see the mattress-sponge in the hallway), then had more drinks, tapas, and conversation in a different bar.

Last train of IndieRail!
Friday 16/11: Our train to Jerez left at 11.20, so we slept in, before checking out and making our way to the station. We both got a lot of work done on the first leg, to Dos Hermanas, but unfortunately the train was delayed so we had less time for lunch than we would have liked.

We arrived at the house of our couchsurfing hosts Ana and Diego at around 5.30; they welcomed us with freshly baked magdalenas that Ana had made just for us. We chatted for a while then headed out to a language exchange and then to a tapa dinner in a fantastic restaurant in the centre of Jerez.

Saturday 17/11: Craig and I had arranged to meet Isabel, our prospective landlady, at 11am — but we’d made an erroneous assumption about the frequency of buses: we had to walk. So Isabel met us at 11.30 and showed us not only around the apartment, but also around the building and the surrounding area — and she’d also prepared two packs of information about Cadiz province (one in English, one in Spanish). We were convinced, and we’ve arranged to move in on Tuesday.

After a bit of a wander around the city, we had a tasty menu del día then visited the market and supermarket to pick up a few supplies.

Back home, we chatted with Diego and Ana for several hours, then had a light dinner of pebre, asparagus and mushrooms, then settled in for an evening of Monopoly Deal.

Sunday 18/11: It was Sunday, so we all slept in quite late, then sat around on our various devices (all Apple), listening to music and occasionally talking. They put together a delicious lunch and we spent the afternoon playing Monopoly Deal and Yahtzee.

Unfortunately, in the evening we discovered that the site was down. Craig looked into it but decided he’d be better off trying to fix it in the morning — but the problem was a lot bigger than he thought. Which is why I’m posting this travel diary two weeks late!

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