May 11-12, 2023 Prince Charming and his Quests!!

Yes, we are alive! Dave has mostly fully recovered! Kathy had a bad bout of indigestion, but minor in comparison to what he went through. We though didn’t let it stop us from our appointed “rounds”… okay we are not mail carriers, but we soldiered on. Thursday saw us leaving early from Granada to head towards Cordoba where we had a tour scheduled for 10:30 in the morning.  Cordoba was once the richest city in the world and the mosque (turned into a cathedral now), the synagogue and the alcazar (Moorish castle) pay tribute to that wealth.  The mixture of so many cultures has really been the highlight of this trip.

Dave, getting into the groove of driving in Spain, managed to get us there with time to spare and very few “Please do a legal U-turn” requests from the GPS (and only one, “You’re going the wrong way down a one-way street!” shout, which was incorrect.)  We soon were on our way to visit an old Moorish building that up until the 20th century housed a prison and had the dubious history of being the home of the Spanish Inquisition. Next stop was the Jewish quarter which was small, but still had some remnants of the past pockets of Jewish population. Last stop on the tour was the large church which was formally a mosque and now a catholic cathedral. Like a lot of history in Spain, the Catholic church converted the building from a Muslim place of worship to a Catholic one. Kathy had a hard time seeing any remnants of the former Muslim tenants, but luckily our guide pointed them out to us. (We will have to take her word for it!)

Next stop was something to eat. Well past our noon lunch hour, and getting closer to 2 pm, we finally found a spot where we chatted with a foursome from the States. Dave had potatoes in a cream sauce and Kathy tried a local dish. Both were excellent and the potatoes were a benign meal for Dave’s still recovering tummy. We soon meandered through the labyrinth of streets to find our hotel. Checking in, we chatted with the desk clerk and decided to leave our car in the parking garage next to the mosque.  We then hoofed it to get our luggage so that we could begin our explorations.  This was where having backpacks for luggage paid off.  Not having to drag wheeled luggage over cobblestone and dirt streets was the advantage of putting them on our backs.  After chilling for a bit at the hotel we headed off on our first quest a visit to the Festival of the Patios, a local tradition where the residents decorate their indoor courtyards, or “patios”, with a festival of plants and decorations. It was a highlight of the day. The gardens were amazing and we were astounded with the amount of work each gardener put into creating a perfect paradise in their homes.  Dinner and bed were all that were left to accomplish that day and soon we were nestled in our bed. Well that sounds more positive than it actually was, but at least we had a bed (or what passed as a bed).

Gratefully, the next morning we climbed out of bed and headed towards the small village of Consuegra to “tilt” at a few windmills. One of the world’s most iconic books, and one of Dave’s favorites, is Miguel de Cervantes’ book from the early 1600’s, “Don Quixote – Man of La Mancha” in which the characters’ adventures take place in a setting very much like Consuegra. We found the time-period windmills, of which 5 are still working, and a large castle currently in restoration. We wandered around the area and thoroughly enjoyed reliving some of the best moments from the book. Dave managed to joust the windmill with a “sword” and then tilted at it – like Don Quixote, no obstacle was too big!  We could not linger as we needed to be off to locate our next hotel in Cuenca, Spain.

Cuenca is a beautiful area rock-walled area and the hotel is a converted convent. It sits high atop a hill with buildings perched on top of the cliff walls that surround a deep gorge. After having jousted with a windmill, Dave had worked up an appetite. Walking over a large pedestrian span of the bridge that links the convent/hotel with the town, we set out on our next quest – find dinner. Kathy was still feeling a tad bit under the weaver from acid reflux, so she opted for a gently grilled ham and cheese sandwich (without the ham, please) while Dave tried a local sandwich. Heading back, we were treated to seeing quite a few local eagles called Booted Eagles.  Entranced, we watched them for a bit while standing in the middle of the bridge. We then headed back to the hotel where Kathy promptly fell asleep at the unseemly hour of 8:30 pm, leaving Dave to fend for himself.  Well, tomorrow was another day.

Morning arrive, but not much was accomplished. We managed to leave the hotel early in order to return our rental car in Madrid, normally a simple process.  We arrived 40 minutes prior to our shuttle pickup.  Unfortunately, just dropping off the car keys took more than an hour to accomplish! This left our shuttle driver, who was waiting to take us into Madrid, cooling his heels longer than he wanted. Finally finding our hotel, we deposited our luggage and set out to discover Madrid. Just down form the hotel is the famous Puerta del Sol, a thriving open plaza that has street entertainers, lots of food, and of course shops on every corner. Deciding on a late lunch we had some chicken fingers and quesadilla, just small bites for Kathy. Still feeling the effects of the reflux we went back to the hotel where Kathy chilled and Dave went out looking for some tums.  Along the way, he found the Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Spain. The third and final quest, like all the others was successful!  The Spanish version of tums will hopefully do the trick!!

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