A year ago I was in Europe and lately I’ve been thinking over some of the places that were the most memorable from that trip. If you read my travelogue posts from back then you already know the details of each place I visited, but I thought I’d do a series of short writing pieces over the next three or so weeks where I give my thoughts on particular cities or regions as a whole. I’m not going to talk about every location; just the ones that have been on my mind. The order that I write about them will be in the approximate chronological order of when I visited and each writing piece will feature two locations with a photo from the trip to accompany each of them. As a bonus, at the end of each writing piece I’ll note where I was, one year ago that day.
My time in Granada was something of a second chance for the city. In 2012 I was there, but only for a very short period, so I didn’t see much beyond the Alhambra and a few other sights. In 2015 I came back and had the time to experience more of the city. Granada has become my favorite city in Andalusia, with a nice balance of history and modernity. Everything you could want in a modern city is there for you, and right within it are enough sightseeing attractions to keep you busy all day long. The crown jewel of Granada is, of course, the Alhambra, which is a monument to the last flourish of Moorish culture in Spain before 1492, when the Spanish retook the city. I visited the Alhambra both last year and in 2012, and I personally think it’s better than the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. You could spend half your day up there, and when you come down there’s a vibrant city waiting for you. Whereas Seville has an older, dignified feel to it, Granada’s vibe felt younger and trendier, at least in the central part of the city where I spent most of my time.
Oh, poor Cordoba, you can’t catch a break. Cordoba feels like the least of the trio of larger cities in Andalusia, even though it’s actually bigger than Granada, and gets passed over by a lot of people. I myself only spent two nights there, and when I left I didn’t feel like I had missed out on much. The alcazar of Cordoba isn’t much compared to the one in Seville, or the Alhambra in Granada, and there’s much less to see and do in Cordoba than its sister cities. What Cordoba can claim to its credit is the Mesquita, a former Visigothic church that was turned into a mosque by the Moors, and then turned back into a church when the Spanish reconquered the city. Inside is a forest of columns and arches, which seem to stretch out to infinity. Near the Mesquita you can cross the old bridge and climb a small tower for a good view of the old city. I spent a little while up on that tower, staring back at the Mesquita, the alcazar, and the rest of Cordoba. Long ago it was the foremost city in all of Europe, but today it is a quieter town, and I suspect Cordoba is just fine with that.
On this day, one year ago, I flew from Istanbul to Madrid. Before leaving I acquired the legendary Umbrella of Constantine, and upon arrival in Madrid my first meal was a delicious serving of chocolate con churros. That night I also finally got to see Picasso’s famous Guernica, which I had missed the last time I was in Madrid.