Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cycling Europe 2019 Day 13: Seville To Córdoba - Of Roman Temples & Bridges

                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Europe 2019 Day 13: Seville To Córdoba - Of Roman Temples & Bridges
Portugal, Spain & France: Day 13 Friday, 8th November - Seville to Córdoba
This is part of a cycling tour of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain), covering some cycling in Seville & Córdoba:
Cycling Distance: 16 km.     Level: Easy
Time : 9:20am to 8:45pm
Time Taken : 11hrs. 25mins. (including train ride, lunch, dinner, visiting attractions, & lots of photo opps.)

This is page 11 of a 20-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D12 Seville 2          |          Go To Other Days         |         Go to D14 Zuheros >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    In the morning it was a short ride at Seville to to visit the Plaza de España followed by a ride to the Santa Justa Train Station to take the Renfe Ave Seville-Jaen Train to Córdoba.
On arriving at the Estación de Córdoba Adif it was a short ride to the home-stay and then to the Templo romano de Córdoba (Roman temple ruins of Córdoba), the Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba & the Puente romano de Córdoba (Roman bridge of Cordoba that spans over the Guadalquivir River. The route was relatively flat in Seville, while in Córdoba there was a bit of climb.
3. Weather
    Morning temperatures aSeville averaged 14°C. In Córdoba afternoon and evening temperatures averaged 25°C & 21°respectively. It was a bright, sunny day with blue skies.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather, and for more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Bringing Bikes Onto European Trains, Buses & Trams
    Both in Portugal & Spain, full size bikes and folding bikes (there is no necessity to fold them) can bet taken into inter-city trains, metros and trams for free and without bagging. Do note that bikes may not be allowed during peak hours.
    For regulations regarding bringing bicycles onto different Spanish trains, click here. For regulations regarding Barcelona, Click here and click here.
    We took 1:30pm Renfe Ave Seville-Jaen Train to Córdoba and bought the train tickets at the Santa Justa Train Station. The train journey took 1 hr. 20 min. & fare was €14-00 per pax.; there was no charges for our bicycle which we had folded and bagged.

5. Places of Interest
    Along this route were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:

Morning cycling at Seville Guadalquivir River riverside
  1. Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (Maestranza Seville) (GPS: 37.38599, -5.99840), a bullfighting ring.
  2. Palacio de San Telmo (San Telmo Palace) (GPS: 37.38024, -5.99362).
  3. Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park(GPS: 37.37898, -5.98920).
  4. Plaza de España (GPS: 37.37745, -5.98619).
  5. Teatro Lope de Vega (Lope de Vega Theater(GPS: 37.37843, -5.99100).
  6. Iglesia Santa Maria la Blanca (Saint Mary the White Church(GPS: 37.38642, -5.98732).
  7. Parroquia de San Roque (Saint Roque Parish) (GPS: 37.39101, -5.98380).
  8. Santa Justa Train Station (GPS: 37.39179, -5.97568).
Evening cycling at Córdoba:
  1. Estación de Córdoba Adif (Córdoba Adif Train Station) (GPS: 37.88848, -4.78952).
  2. Jardines de la Agricultura Córdoba (Gardens of Agriculture Córdoba) (GPS: 37.88768, -4.78564).
  3. Iglesia de San Pablo (St. Paul's Church) (37.88534, -4.77589).
  4. Templo romano de Córdoba (Roman temple ruins of Córdoba) (GPS: 37.88483, -4.77643).
  5. Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba) (GPS: 37.8787, -4.78001).
  6. Patio De Los Naranjos (Courtyard of the Orange Trees) (GPS: 37.87946, -4.77985).
  7. Puerta del Puente (Bridge Gate) (GPS: 37.87774, -4.77910)
  8. Triunfo de San Rafael de la Puerta del Puente (Triumph of Saint Raphael at the Bridge Gate) (GPS: 37.87788, -4.77959).
  9. Estrella de los deseos (37.87814, -4.77966) external views of Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba along Calle Torrijos.
  10. Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Alcázar of Córdoba, Alcazar of the Christian Kings) (GPS: 37.87588, -4.78207)
  11. Puente romano de Córdoba (Roman bridge of Cordoba over the Rio Guadalquivir) (GPS: 37.87699, -4.77835).
  12. Shrine of San Rafael (GPS: 37.87645, -4.77768) on the Roman bridge of Cordoba.
  13. Torre De Calahorra (Calahorra Tower) (GPS: 37.87564, -4.77661).
  14. Paseo Fluvial Calahorra (Calahorra River Walk) (GPS: 37.87500, -4.77707).
  15. Parkour Park Córdoba (GPS: 37.87672, -4.77607).

6. Meals
a. Breakfast: Self made at apartment.
b. Morning Tea at 100 Montaditos Gourmet (GPS: 37.39221, -5.97572) at the Santa Justa Train StationSeville. (Small bites cafe, prices are on the expensive side)
c. Dinner: at Bodegas Mezquita Ribera (GPS: 37.87888, -4.77694in Córdoba:
   Orange, almond and cod fish salad; potato omelet, aubergine fritters, Baby squid, meat balls in saffron sauce, lamb with honey and date sauce, oxtail rice on saucepan, & desserts of a pastelle Córdoba selection. 
7. Accommodations
    One night aComo en casa (GPS: 37.88581, -4.77536) in Córdoba which we had pre-booked through, a four-bedrooms for 8 adults (four single beds, two double beds) apartment on the upper floor (with a small lift) at €211.42 per night  (or €13-20 per pax per night). Our bikes were allowed to be brought into the apartment.
    Address: calle San Pablo nº7, Portal B, Planta 2, Puerta 3, 14002 Córdoba, Spain.
    Phone: +34689375072
8. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We bought pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three on-line through Lazada. As some of us stayed for a shorter period, we got two plans with cost ranging from RM30 to RM70 for a 20 days 4G and a 30 days 10G plans respectively. These plans include their "Feel At Home" package which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countries (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

8. Communicating with Locals
    In Spain, except in rural areas, many young locals can speak some basic English and communicating with them shouldn't be a problem. This is especially the case in hotels & restaurants.
    When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour, do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

10. Navigation
     Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
    Kevin was using a Beeline navigation unit that synchronized with pre-planned routes on his phone app. Sin & me were using the Garmin GPS units and had pre-plotted our daily routes into respective GPX maps usable in these units. We had pre-loaded the PortugalSpain & France Maps together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. Do ZOOM out to look for turning points further ahead; and ZOOM in at complicated junctions, otherwise one may make a wrong turn (it did happen to us sometimes).
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
    At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests that were not shown on our GPS units. In Spain, Google Maps does work in Cycling Mode.

11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.


day earlier we bit of riding at the Guadalquivir riverside & joined the Free Historical Walking Tour Sevilla in the afternoon and saw some nice Flamenco dancing too.
This morning was a ride to the Plaza de España in Seville before taking an afternoon train to Córdoba where we did a short ride to visit some attractions there.


Cycling Route: Galera Donkey>Plaza de Toros>Palacio de San Telmo>Parque de María Luisa>Plaza de España>Teatro Lope de Vega>Galera Donkey>Santa Justa Train Station (Seville)>Renfe Ave Train>Estación de Córdoba Adif (Córdoba)>Jardines de la Agricultura Córdoba>Como en casa>Templo romano de Córdoba>Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba>Puente romano de Córdoba>Como en casa.
This is a short ride at Seville to to visit the Plaza de España followed by a route to the Santa Justa Train Station to take the Renfe Ave Train to Córdoba. On arriving at the Estación de Córdoba Adif it is a short ride to the home-stay and then to the Templo romano de Córdoba (Roman temple ruins of Córdoba), the Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba & the Puente romano de Córdoba (Roman bridge of Cordoba that spans over the Guadalquivir River. The route is relatively flat in Seville, while in Córdoba there is a bit of climb.
Cycling Distance: 16 km.     Level: Easy
(Zoom in to see cycling routes in Seville & Córdoba)

We kicked off the day with a short ride, this time it will not be along the Rio Guadalquivir riverside but along inner roads and lanes leading to another beautiful attraction. As usual we used our favorite shortcut that cuts through the Plaza de toros de Sevilla, it's a good short-cut, quite and almost devoid of traffic.

Along the way a quick stop at the Palacio de San Telmo (San Telmo Palace), it's really a quick stop just for photos. This historical place was formerly the Universidad de Mareantes (University of Navigators)a university for navigators and a school to educate orphaned children and train them as sailors). It is now the seat of the presidency of the Andalusian Autonomous Government. San Telmo (Saint Elmo) was the patron saint of sailors. Let's pray that he will guide us cyclists too, after all we are also adventurers of a sort.

In a matter of twenty minutes, we were at our destination - the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park)Most of the grounds that were used for the park were formerly the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo. They were donated to the city of Seville in 1893 by the Infanta Luisa Fernanda, Duchess of Montpensier, for use as a public park. Starting in 1911, Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier rearranged the gardens into their present shapes.
Within this garden lies a destination not to be missed when in Seville - the Plaza de España.
This is really a beautiful place with a stately building that curves in a semicircle (see top-most photo which show half the semicircle) and ends with a tall tower at each side.
It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque RevivalRenaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture.

From the central compound, we carried our bicycles across a bridge spanning over a moat to reach the semicircular building. At the foot of the building, spreading across the arc were many niches which were decorated with bright Spanish Azulejo tiles. Each niche represents a city in Spain and has a tiled mural painting of some past building or important culture of that respective city. The above is one representing Córdoba. On each side of the colorful main mural are blue Azulejo tiles of a couple of important buildings in Córdoba.

We lingered a while, admiring the place and it's beautiful mixed architecture of buildings built with stately red sandstone. At the center of the main building was this series of beautiful arches.

And at center of the courtyard is a large circular fountain. Today the weather was very much better than yesterday's moody and rainy one. Today it's a sunny day with bright blue skies, and the sun's ray made a beautiful rainbow in the misty spray of the fountain. Yes, it's going to be a wonderful day!

After forty minutes of fun, it was time to leave - we have a train to catch! Our route took us cycling on five-foot ways running next to the Parque de María Luisa park .....

..... and took us pass the Teatro Lope de Vega (Lope de Vega Theater), is a small Baroque Revival theater that was also built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and is also located in the Maria Luisa Park. The theater is named after the famous 16th-century Spanish playwright Lope de Vega. Since then the building has been used as a hospital and as a trade show venue. Following its most recent renovation the theater has become one of Seville's most important centers for cultural events.

11:30am - We checked out from our apartment to head for the Santa Justa Train Station. As we say goodbye to the city, it seems to know it and had posted police on horseback to send us off! (Just joking here, actually some big shot (which was definitely not us) was visiting the area and they had cordoned the area off from motorized traffic).

Sin was leading us, and as usual he took us on an interesting route that avoided as much as the main roads and onto narrow side roads and quiet back alleys .....

..... and passed by cute pastel pink churches like the Iglesia Santa Maria la Blanca (Saint Mary the White Churchabove. It's a church that has been lavishly decorated in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

Train platforms at Seville's Santa Justa train statinon.
Our original plan was to take a train to Palma del Rio, a small town that's renown for the orange trees that line its street. From there we were to cycle 50+ km (see route on above map) to Córdoba and then onwards Granada with a night each at Zuheros and Alcalá la Real along the Via Verde trails . But our earlier experience of rain and cold headwind in Portugal showed us that we took more time than anticipated to cycle even those short daily distances as we had to stop frequently at cafe for coffee to warm up 😄. Even worse was that the the route here will be into the hilly areas of the region. So from here onwards, we made a change of plans and decided not to cycle from city to city but instead take the train or bus in between cities so that we would have more time to cycle-explore the cities.
So with that, at the Santa Justa Train Station we bought tickets for the 1:30pm Renfe Ave Seville-Jaen Train to CórdobaThe fare was €14-00 per pax.; there was no charges for our bicycle which we had folded and bagged.

It's adiós Seville and we bagged our bikes into Dimpa bags and got ready to board the train. The station waiting area is a floor above the train platforms, with individual ramps leading down to the respective platforms. One last tip here - oddly announcements on which platform to board the train were only made 5 minutes before boarding, so be ready to make a mad rush to board while carrying a heavy Dimpa-ful of bike!

When we arrived a the Estación de Córdoba Adif (Cordoba Adif Station) an hour and twenty minutes later, and met a fellow Bromptoneer, Carlos. He commutes with his Brompton from Córdoba to Seville & for work.
At the station too we bought our bus tickets to our next destination, Zuheros.

Riding out from the station onto cycling lanes we cut through the shady Jardines de la Agricultura Córdoba (Gardens of Agriculture Córdoba).

But it was not all a "ride in the park" as often from the cycling lanes we detoured onto narrow pavements, some of which cut through busy alfresco restaurants.

3:30pm - We arrived at our stay for the night the Como en casa, it's an apartment located on the first floor of an residential complex. Like most European apartments it was served by only a small lift that could only fit one pax and two folded bikes. But no worries here, Frederico, our host was a strong fellow and he helped carry some our bikes up to the apartment.

Not wanting to lose out on the daylight hours, we quickly headed out to visit the city's attractions starting with the Templo romano de Córdoba (Roman temple ruins of Córdoba). These remains of a Roman temple was discovered in the 1950s during the expansion of City Hall. Its construction began during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) and ended some forty years later, during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE).

Next was a place not to be missed when in Cordoba - the Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba) or more commonly called La Mezquita (The Great Mosque). "According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on this site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236 during the Reconquista, and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century".

In the sunset, the Bell Tower stood out in a bright orange!

Although now a cathedral, many of the Moorish architecture has been retained like this beautiful archway.
We didn't climb up the tower but instead just relaxed at the garden grounds of the complex, this garden is called the Patio De Los Naranjos (Courtyard of the Orange Trees) because Rodrigo Caro wrote in the 16th century, “there are orange trees from many centuries ago there, with some palms and cypresses.”

We left the La Mezquita and headed for the riverside making our next stop at the Puerta del Puente (Bridge Gate). This was the Renaissance gate of the city which was built in the sixteenth century, to improve and replace a deteriorated existing gate.

That's us standing tall with a cyclist from China at the tall columns of the Bridge Gate.

And inside the gate a bridal couple was having their wedding photo shoot, how romantic!

Nearby, standing high above on top of the Triunfo de San Rafael de la Puerta del Puente was the guardian archangel Raphael, looking afar and guarding the city. The Archangel Raphael is said to have appeared in Cordova during the 16th century; in response to the city's appeal. As such the locals pray to him as the city's patron saint and guardian angel.

A beautiful pose by Anne & Fenn at the Estrella de los deseos, much of La Mezquita intricate external features like this can be seen along Calle Torrijos.

The setting sun also "lit" up the Puente romano de Córdoba. It is the Roman bridge of Cordoba which spans over the Rio Guadalquivir (yes, it's the same river that we cycled along at Seville a day before). It's bright orange-ish hue drew us to it, inviting us to walk across.

Onto the bridge it was an easy walk, although they were many people around, being a week-day it was not overly crowded and we could slowly pedal across, but stopped ever so often to take photos.
Just for note, the bridge was used in a scene in the movie series The Game of Thrones, it was the Long Bridge of Volantis.

Midway we met the bridal couple again, perhaps they were going to say some prayers at the Shrine of San Rafael located at the center of the bridge.

 With a total length of 247 meters and a width of  around 9 meters. it was muilt in the early 1st century BC. It has been reconstructed at various times since, most of the present structure dates from the Moorish reconstruction in the 8th century.

As the sun set in, La Mezquita cast a mystic reflection onto the river water, making one wonder the flow of history that must have gone through its corridors.

Even at dusk, the bridge was busy, and in the setting sun's light, the angel Raphael shone brightly in a quiet promise to guard the city. Not far away a flock of ducks quietly flew in a V-flight home.

That's us getting ready to enjoy our dinner at the Bodegas Mezquita Ribera. located just a stone's throw away from the bridge. It's slightly pricey but served very good food in a very cozy atmosphere; the best thing is that they allowed us to bring in our precious folded bikes.

Some photos of our meal, clock wise from top left: orange, almond and cod fish salad; aubergine fritters, a cask of their house wine, & lamb with honey and date sauce.

More photos of our meal, clock wise from top left: a bottle of their house wine, potato omelet, oxtail rice on saucepan, & meat balls in saffron sauce.
The bottle of wine came with a label stating: "El mejor vino es el que se comparte!" which meant, "The best wine is the one that is shared!" How true, in our cycling here together, we had shared many good wine, including this one.

One of their better dishes: Lightly grilled baby squid one that was tender to bite into has a real good burnt flavor and aroma.

 Desserts consisted of a platter of Córdoba pastelle selection.

We had posters of Flamenco dancers surrounding us while we ate.... this was definitely more cozy than a bull's head overlooking us just like at the previous restaurants we ate in.

Our room overlook the street and was just opposite the side gate of the Iglesia de San Pablo (St. Paul's Church). We indeed felt very safe in Córdoba, after all we had the archangel Raphael and now St. Paul taking care of us .....

This is page 11 of a 20-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D12 Seville 2          |         Go To Other Days         |         Go to D14 Zuheros > 

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