nancy camino

Fulfilling a 40 year Camino de Santiago Dream

An interview with Nancy of WalkSit.com.

Nancy felt pretty unfit, and wondered if she could I actually walk nearly one thousand kilometres at the age of 56. Her Camino de Santiago dream began 40 years ago, but like many of us, life got in the way. She recently decided to wait no longer, bought her ticket to Spain and completed her first Camino! Nancy’s story caught my attention as completing a long-distance walk like the Camino is a goal of mine too, and I could relate to her age/fitness concerns. I’m delighted Nancy agreed to answer a few questions about her journey.

 

The Via de la Plata Camino Route

The Via de la Plata Camino Route

Q: What made you take the plunge and fulfill your 40-year dream?

Nancy: I’d gone through a bad workplace experience at the beginning of the year that sort of topped off an arduous 12 months the year before. So I decided to “retire” as I’d reached my Super’s preservation age [in Australia, early retirement – Ed.] and access most of my Super to renovate my house, take a sabbatical to recoup, and to fulfil my dream. Until I’d bought the ticket ($3K) I didn’t actually believe I was going to walk the Camino after all these years.

Q: Why did you choose the Via de la Plata Camino route (Seville to Santiago de Compostela) instead of the more popular Way of St. James route?

Nancy before the Camino, at the airport in Australia.

Nancy before the Camino, at the airport in Australia.

Nancy: My answer probably says more about me than anything else. OK – since I’d taken the plunge and accessed my Super, I thought I’ll do this Camino thing, then I thought I can’t be bothered with crowds of people (the Camino Frances is very populated) and I certainly didn’t want to be competing for beds every day SO I picked one of the hardest and least travelled routes. The Granada route sounded too hard (see Sinning Across Spain by Ms Piper) so the Via de la Plata was my first choice. Veteran pilgrims I met along the way said they’d rarely heard of any newbie tackling the Via de la Plata as their first Camino.

But my attitude was just to do it – I didn’t know what to expect really so I went in naïve and ready for anything.

Q: Did you do a lot of physical preparation for the walk?

Nancy: I thought I was “heroic” walking 8 kilometres every few days for about 4 weeks! Ha! When it came to practising with a loaded rucksack, as they suggest you do, I put that off for weeks as I didn’t want to find out that my back with its severe arthritis couldn’t manage it. Talk about avoidance and procrastination!

Q: Along the way, were your biggest challenges mental or physical? What did you learn about your body’s physical abilities?

Nancy: My biggest challenges, as a new pilgrim, included not being too clingy and dependent on more experienced peregrinos. I spent a lot of my first 2 weeks strongly doubting my own capabilities to get out of the village and manage the distance and get into the next village and find accommodation.

Once I figured out that I could do that, I stopped having expectations of other pilgrims. That eased the mental load.

Physically, the distances took their toll on the soles of my feet more than anything. I managed to inflict blisters on myself through stubbornness, but once they cleared up I was fine. Plus your pain threshold rises so you get to a place where you can cope with whatever your body is screaming and just keep walking. You know that you will get there in one piece!

What I learned about our ageing bodies is that we are actually designed to be work-horses. We/I spend so much time being sedentary it’s no wonder we are prone to disease and decay. We are meant to be out using our bodies to their optimum level each day. Mine thrived on walking 15 to 20 ks a day! And I learned that we don’t need all the food we eat in our sedentary lives. I was one of the youngest ones out there at age 56! The oldest I met was 86 and someone met another person aged 94.

Q: Gear – Is there any must-have item that made your walk easier or more enjoyable. Are there any items you wished you brought?

Towards the end of the Camino, Nancy is looking strong and energized.

Towards the end of the Camino, Nancy is looking strong and energized.

Nancy: I positively couldn’t have managed the walk without my walking sticks. I picked up a pair in the local sport shop and had never used sticks before. In fact I’d never walked more than maybe 10 ks in my whole life before! Walking sticks kept me balanced on muddy ground, through longish grass, on bitumen, up hills and mountains, down as well, through all sorts of terrain. They were a support and became my friends. You hear the pilgrims tap tapping out of any village from around 6am onwards on the cobbled roads.

I wish that I had not thrown out my Tiger Balm! And I strongly recommend buying a pair or two of those little shoe skirts that you can get in supermarkets – tradies buy them to keep dirt or sparks etc out of their shoes. Gravel and sand etc on the Camino can do your head in. Shaking out your boots on the Way involves finding somewhere to sit, unloading your rucksack, undoing your laces, etc etc. Those little shoe skirts would have been wonderful. I would take a pair next time.

Q: Food is usually a big part of travel. Was that still true on the Camino? Did you pack food for along the way or eat at restaurants?

Nancy: I was looking forward to what I thought was Spanish food – tortilla, chilli con carne, very spicy food, as I love heat, spice and more spice. But Spanish food in rural Spain is quite plain – after all they are farmers and crop growers. So the food was quite mundane but still very delicious. I did get sick of Menu del Dia but then I ate around 60 of them – grilled meat of some sort and chips.

A few times early on, I made up a big sandwich for the road – as I thought I might be starving to death with all this walking. But eventually, a couple of pieces of fruit were more than adequate for the walk with a light brekkie to start with and as much as you can eat that night in the next town.

I ate at restaurants each night or bar/cafes – but it’s easy to stock up at the supermarket in each village for supplies for the budget-conscious. Just finding out the opening hours is the thing – Spain closes from 1pm to around 5pm every afternoon. (and remember, due to my super money, this was an adventure of a lifetime – I treated myself to whatever I wanted for the first and only time in my life – money was not going to be an issue on this walk!)

Q: While traveling I’m much more active, and love the feeling of getting stronger. But somehow when I get home it’s too easy to slip into old habits. Have the Camino habits carried over into your post-Camino world?

Nancy arriving at the Cathedral of Santiago – triumphant!

Nancy arriving at the Cathedral of Santiago – triumphant!

Nancy: Funny you should ask that as just today I wrote a post about having become a couch potato. For the first couple of weeks since I got back, in October last year, I righteously walked every couple of days. I didn’t want to lose all my excellent muscle definition and tone and feelings of being in top condition. But then the extreme summer heat AND the Christmas season struck so I spent a lot of time indoors. Even now, nearing the end of March, I’m still sedentary.

When you’re out on the Camino, that’s like your job. That’s what you do each day – walk walk walk. There are no pressing issues of real life stressing you out and life is clean and simple and basic. Uncomplicated. Back home, it’s quite different. Same old streets, more of a chore, whatever.

But I’m happy to think that it’s a stage I’m going through and that with the onset of our southern hemisphere winter, I will get back out into walking mode. I believe walking is the best thing because it’s not stressful like jogging on our ageing bodies and it’s free and scenic and flexible.

Q: Any advice for fellow boomers considering this challenge?

Nancy: My biggest realisation is that ageing is made out to be a disease. A complete negative. The media and the culture we occupy are complicit in this. I learnt that we are ageing, yes, but we are strong and vital. No need to think about the nursing home at all ever! If some 94 year old pilgrim is out there walking the Via de la Plata then that says a lot more than I could ever write about how we are capable of a lot more than this culture/society gives us credit for.

My advice? Just do it! If it’s still nagging at you, then that’s a glorious part inside you that is telling you a dream is about to unfold. Make it come true!

Nancy is on a mission to show that we are all more capable of achieving our dreams than we think we are. Please check out her website Walk Sit for walking resources and stories about her Camino journey, and keep up to date with her on Twitter at @walkingsitting or Facebook at walksitcarrywater. Photos are courtesy of Walksit.com.

Are you up for a challenge?

 

sagrada familia cypress

La Sagrada Família

“My client is not in a hurry.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

The highlight of our Spanish road trip to Barcelona was our visit to Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Basilica De La Sagrada Família. Probably the world’s most famous construction site, the church was begun in 1882, and is expected to be completed for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 2026.

Today it is unusual for even major buildings to take more than a few years to complete. Technology has sped up the building process, but fine craftsmanship and details take time, and that type of work is rarely found in modern buildings.

Seeing the church both inside and out was awe inspiring. It is unique among churches, cathedrals, and architecture in general. We were there for several hours and could have stayed longer to appreciate all the details and symbolism. If you go, the audio guide is excellent, and make sure to visit the on-site museum to learn more about Gaudi and his work.

The Nativity Façade celebrates the birth of Jesus the Messiah, and represents life and joy.

About La Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família was begun on March 19, 1882, from a project by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. At the end of 1883, Antonio Gaudí was commissioned to take on the project, which he continued until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work, following the guidelines set out by Antoni Gaudí. From its start, the church has been funded through donations and today also ticket sales from visitors.

When the church is finished it will have 18 towers: the highest adorned with a large cross representing Christ, one to Mary, 12 dedicated to the apostles, and 4 to the evangelists. It can hold 15,000 people, and a choir of 1000.

“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

Detail of the Nativity Façade

“Because of this, originality consists in returning to the origin.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

“Nothing is invented, for it’s written in nature first.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

“Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

Ceiling detail.

“Glory is light, light gives joy and joy is the happiness of the spirit.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

“The amount of light should be just right, not too much, not too little, since having too much or too little light can both cause blindness.”

~ Antoni Gaudi

Part of the joy was watching other people’s reactions as they entered the church.

Its doors at the main entrance are printed with words from the Bible in various languages including Catalan.

The nearly completed Passion Façade, in contrast to the Nativity Façade, is stark with bone-like pillars. Fitting, as it represents the suffering and crucifixion of Christ.

The Glory Façade, which is the main façade, will be the last to be finished.

About Gaudi

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) was a Catalan, born in Reus, a small town south of Barcelona. He went to Barcelona to study architecture, and upon completion of his studies, the director of the school commented “Today we have given an architecture degree to a madman or to a genius”.

Entrepreneur Eusebi Güell met Gaudi after seeing his work at the Spanish Pavilion at the 1878 World Fair’s in Paris. He became one of Gaudi’s best friends and clients, allowing him to develop his style on projects without interference, including Park Güell.   

Gaudi took on the Sagrada Família project at the age of 31. He was one of the world’s most outstanding architects and one of the Barcelona’s most well known residents. Seven properties built by Gaudí in or near Barcelona are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and his work is one of the city’s main cultural attractions.

The workshop at La Sagrada Família

Gaudí’s work is exceptionally creative, and he furthered the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gaudi was inspired first by nature, but also by art nouveau, gothicism, surrealism and modernist styles.

Gaudí was a devout man, attending church twice a day, and believed his architectural ability was a gift from God.

Gaudi’s room, in the house where he lived in Park Güell – today the Gaudí House Museum. Even though he created buildings and objects of beauty, he lived a simple life with few possessions.

On June 7, 1926, Gaudí was knocked down by a tram and seriously injured. He died three days later, and his body was buried on June 12 in the crypt of La Sagrada Família. His last words were “Amen. My God! My God!”

A view of the Sagrada Família from Parc Güell, over-looking the Mediterranean Sea.

The design of the Sagrada Família is challenging and still somewhat controversial. What’s your opinion?

The Vibrant Street Art of Valencia, Spain

Valencia was the first stop of our Spanish road trip, and we didn’t really have any preconceived ideas about the city beyond oranges and paella. What we found was a very unique medieval and modern city, with an abundance of street art that gives a fresh twist to exploring its old town.

Overshadowed by Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain with a population of about 800,000. It has a fascinating historical center with a labyrinthe of cobbled streets that is very walkable or great to tour by bike. You will notice  that Valencia was hit hard by war, and next to intact or restored buildings are ruins and vacant spots often walled off for future development or restoration. These blank walls have become a canvas for a variety of street artists, and the combination of their art with historical architecture leads to a surprise around every corner.

A Sample of the Street Art of Valencia

Valencia is a city of contrast.

I think he looks like Picasso surveying the scene.

Picasso keeping watch.

Winston’s favorite.

Poor kitty!

Street art – love it or hate it? Which is your favorite?

Winston Goes to Spain

“Who will look after my dog?” is a common dilemma when going on vacation.  Our solution was to bring our Yorkshire Terrier, Winston, along with us for a six week trip to Spain.

Winston has travelled with us on several road trips in western Canada and the US, but we have never taken a pet on a transAtlantic flight. If we were taking a shorter trip or one with multiple stops, we wouldn’t take our dog as it wouldn’t be worth the expense, red tape, or the stress on our dog. The experience turned out to be a great one for us as well as Winston.

I'm ready. Let's go!

“I’m ready…let’s go!”

I love the warm Spanish sun on my face.

“I love the warm Spanish sun on my face.”

WINSTON AT THE NERJA FERIA

WINSTON AT THE NERJA FERIA

Why we decided to take Winston on this trip:

  • Our stay was long enough to make the effort and expense worthwhile.
  • Winston is small enough to fly in the cabin with us.
  • We were planning to stay at one location, rather than moving a lot from place to place as we have on other trips.
  • There is no quarantine period for pets entering the EU from Canada.

Pet Travel

Click here for more details on this trip and how you can travel with your pet.

Winston’s Big Adventure

Follow TouristSite’s board Winston’s Big Adventure on Pinterest.

Why I love Nerja Spain

I love Nerja! This lovely Spanish town is surrounded by the Mediteranean sea, the Sierra Almijara mountains, flowers and orange trees. Although Nerja is visited by lots of tourists and is a favored spot for British expats, it still maintains its authentic Spanish flavor more than most beach towns along the Costa del Sol.


In the centre of the old town is The Balcón de Europa (Balcony of Europe), which gives stunning views across the sea and of the beaches and coastlines. King Alfonso XII visited the area in 1885 after a devastating earthquake, and declared “This is the Balcony of Europe”.


Weather

Nerja enjoys what many consider the best weather in Europe, with at least 300 sunny days per year. Little more than a light jacket is ever needed, even in January, and the Mediteranean provides a place to cool off in the summer.

Friendly people of Spain

One of the best things about Spain in general is the friendly, fun-loving and family-oriented Spanish people. They are very welcoming, and when I have attempted to use a few words of my limited Spanish, they have been patient and helpful.

We also enjoyed the British and Irish expats we met.  Although we were taking Spanish lessons during our last stay, sometimes it was great to be able to talk easily with people in your own language. “Oh, you speak English too?” Instant friends.

Location

Nerja is about 50km east of Malaga and 90km southwest of Granada, in the Andalucian region of southern Spain. With Nerja as a home base, Granada, Cordoba, Seville and Gibraltar are all within a couple hours drive, as are many interesting hill towns. Short flights anywhere in Europe are possible from Malaga, and on a clear day you can even see Morocco across the sea.

Nerja Beaches

There are 13km of beaches in Nerja. Burriana Beach has the most facilites, restaurants, etc, while others are quieter.

Plazas

Nerja has a variety of plazas, some bustling and some quiet. They are often lined with cafe’s, and great places to people watch.

Caves of Nerja (Cueva de Nerja)

The Caves of Nerja are one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and stretch for almost 5 kilometres. In the summer you can even attend a concert in one of the chambers, which forms a natural amphitheatre.

Great food

I’ve read there are more than 300 restaurants in Nerja. There is something for everyone – fresh seafood, tapas bars, pubs, Italian, Indian and more –with mostly high quality and great value. Look for the places busy with locals and you can’t go wrong.  Tapas bars are a popular choice and often feature very fresh seafood. Very tasty and inexpensive pizza and pasta can be found Little Italy and La DamaAlthough touristy, a favorite spot for lunch is Ayo’s, located right at Burriana Beach. Paella €6.50, with 1/2 L of Sangria (€6.25).

Value

  • accommodation: plenty of great hotel rooms or holiday apartments available for less than €60/night. Even better value for stays of a week or more.
  • bus to Malaga €5
  • cafe con leche (coffee with milk) €1-€1.50
  • glass of wine/beer €1.50, including tapa
  • sandwich €3
  • menu del dias (set 3 course meal, sometimes including beverage) €8- €10
  • cafe con leche (coffee with milk) €1-€1.50
  • glass of wine/beer €1.50, often including tapas

Pin for later?

Nerja, Spain

Learn more

Lots more local information can be found at Nerja Today and MyNerja.com.

anchovy and tomato on bread

Eating out in Spain – Tapas 101

Tapas are not a particular type of food but a fun and casual style of eating out and socializing in Spain. A tapa is simply a small snack that is served with your drink, and several tapas can make a meal. Bonus – in southern Spain, tapas are usually free with your drink! Often people will visit a few different tapas bars in one night.

At a tapas bar you will usually find:

  • tapas: snack-size portions
  • raciónes: larger portions, good for sharing. (these are not free)
  • media ración: half a raciónes. If this isn’t offered on the menu, you can still ask
  • pintxos: also called pinchos, little open face sandwiches, spiked with a toothpick. (usually not free, but inexpensive)

The cost is generally about €1.50 for drink plus a tapa. The drink doesn’t have to be wine or beer – you can order a water or soft drink with a tapa also. Sometimes we might order a raciónes of one item, then round out the meal with a variety of tapas. To find a good tapas bar, try walking a street or two off the main tourist areas or ask locally for recommendations. The best tapas bars are often the busiest, and may seem intimidating at first, but go for it!  Sometimes it seems that there is no room, but somehow a space opens up eventually. You will find all ages in tapas bars, and they can be a great place to meet locals and fellow travelers.

You usually order your drink at the bar. You might be offered a tapa, but if not just ask. Often at the bar there is a display of food on offer, some of which is served cold, and some will be cooked for you. Some tapas bars specialize in one type of food, such as seafood, ham, or pintxos. You pay at the end when you are ready to go. In the case of pinxtos, the toothpicks will be counted to keep track of the bill.

Below is a sample of popular tapas

  • aceitunas: olives
  • albondigas en salsa: meatballs in sauce
  • almendras: fried almonds
  • almejas: clams
  • anchoas: anchovies
  • boquerones en vinagre: anchovies in vinegar
  • boquerones fritos: deep-fried anchovies
  • bacalao: cod
  • chiperones: fried whole baby squid
  • calamares a la romana: fried squid rings
  • carne con tomate: stewed pork in tomato sauce
  • cazón en adobo: fried marinated dogfish
  • champiñones: mushrooms fried in garlic
  • chorizo = spicy sausage, often served on bread
  • croquetas de jamón: ham croquettes
  • espinacas con garbanzos: spinach and chick peas with olive oil and garlic
  • ensaladilla rusa: russian potato salad
  • escalibada: aubergine (eggplant) and pepper salad
  • garbanzos: chick peas
  • gambas: prawns
  • gambas pil-pil: prawns in garlic and chilli
  • gazpacho: cold tomato and garlic soup
  • habas con jamón: broad beans with ham
  • huevo cocido: hard-boiled egg
  • jamón Serrano: thinly sliced, cured ham
  • jamón Iberico: thinly sliced, cured ham from free-range acorn-fed pigs
  • magro con tomate: pork with tomato
  • mejillones: mussels
  • patatas alioli: potatoes in garlic mayonnaise
  • patatas bravas: fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce
  • pimientos: peppers
  • pinchitos: spicy pork kebabs
  • pisto: ratatouille
  • pulpo: octopus
  • rabo de toro: oxtail stew
  • sardinas: fresh sardines
  • salchicha: sausage
  • sepia: cuttlefish
  • tortilla Española = Spanish potato omelette (served hot or cold)
  • pan: bread
  • pan con tomate: bread with tomato
  • queso Manchego: cured sheep cheese (specifically, cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed)

Spain Fast Facts

spain map

 

 

Fast Facts

  • Area: 505,182 square kilometers
  • Population: 47 million
  • Official Language: Spanish
  • Regional Languages: Catalan, Basque, Galician, Valencian

A Very Brief History

  • Invaders from north Africa made Spain part of the Muslim world in the 8th century. Seven centuries of reconquest ended in 1492.
  • The past century or so Spain suffered the loss of its last major colonies, civil war in the 1930s and forty years of the dictator General  Franco.
  • Franco died in 1975, restoring the monarchy to King Juan Carlos. The young king stayed on as head of a parliamentary monarchy and today Spain is a democracy.

Spain Climate

  • Mild winters, dry and hot summers, and little rainfall in the Mediterranean;
  • Cold winters, mild summers and rainfall throughout the year in Atlantic areas;
  • Rain, cold winters, mild summers and snow in the highest regions;
  • Warm temperatures, little rainfall, strong winds in the Canary Islands.

Siestas and Fiestas

  • The siesta for shops and businesses is from approximately 2pm until 5pm, while bars and restaurants close from about 4pm until about 8 or 9pm. It is common for Spaniards to eat dinner after 10pm.
  • Every city and village has it’s local festivals or ferias throughout the year. Although there will be crowds it’s a great chance to have fun and celebrate as the Spanish do.

24 Hours in Beautiful Cordoba Spain

Mezquita

The courtyard of the Mezquita de Córdoba

If you are traveling in Andelucia, Spain, the UNESCO city of Córdoba is well worth a visit. The famous Mosque-Cathedral and surrounding old town can be explored in a day, and most significant monuments are within walking distance. If you can stay at least one night, there will be fewer tourists and at sunset it looks especially magical.


1

Visit the Great Cathedral and Mosque (Mezquita de Córdoba)

Great Cathedral and Mosque (Mezquita de Córdoba)

Great Cathedral and Mosque (Mezquita de Córdoba)

The Mezquita Cathedral is a significant place for Muslims as well as Christians. The amazing mosque is remarkably well-preserved, and dominates the old town that surrounds it. The interior prayer hall, made up of red and white arches, is so vast that it can take a while to even find the cathedral, which was built inside the mosque.

  • The original Mosque was built over the 6th century Visigothic Basilica. In the 1940s parts of this original Basilica, mainly mosaics and pillars, were discovered in the subfloor of the Cathedral when building work was carried out.
  • The construction of the Mosque began in 786 A.D.
  • Since its beginnings, the Mosque has been the biggest building of its kind in the western Muslim world.
  • The first Eucharistic ceremony of the Dedication of the Cathedral was celebrated in 1236.
  • The construction of Renaissance style Chapel was initiated in 1523.
  • In its heyday, a pilgrimage to the Great Mezquita in Córdoba by a Muslim was said to have equaled a journey to Mecca.

Fee: 8 € Adult

* From Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., it’s possible to visit the Cathedral free, but individually and in silence.

2

Visit the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Palace)

ALCAZAR OF CORDOBA

Alcazar of Cordoba

 

The 13th century Alcázar (castle) of Cordoba is not comparable to the the Alhambra at Granada or Seville’s Alcazar, but it is still worth a visit. The wonderful gardens are the highlight, with ponds and statues providing an oasis of calm in the city.  Climb to the top for impressive views of both the city and gardens.  Don’t miss the Hall of the Mosaics, a small Baroque chapel, where Roman mosaics are displayed on the walls. The exterior of the Alcázar is especially photogenic at sunset.

3Explore the cobblestoned streets of Cordoba’s old town.

Cordoba is very walkable, with the major sights all within close proximity of the Mezquita.  The streets immediately off the Mezquita, while pleasant, are very touristy. But if you venture a couple blocks further you can enjoy a more peaceful walk through the old town, with shady narrow streets, whitewashed walls, colourful doors and flower-filled patios.

4Puerta del Puente (“Gate of the Bridge”)

The 16th century Puerta del Puente is located on the site of previous Roman and Moorish gates, and leads from the city to the Roman Bridge. The square next to gate is a nice place to sit and listen to street musicians.

5Cross the Roman Bridge

Puente Romano – Roman Bridge

Puente Romano – Roman Bridge

This bridge crosses the Guadalquivir River, and was built in the early 1st century BC, during the period of Roman rule, although all of its 16 arches have since been replaced.

6

Visit the Calahorra Tower and Museo Vivo de al-Andalus (“Museum of Andalucia”)

The 14th century Calahorra Tower is located at the south end of the Roman Bridge, and stands on the foundations of an earlier Islamic building. The museum features the Moorish history of Córdoba from the 9th to the 13th centuries, when the city was the cultural and intellectual center of Europe, and with emphasis on this period of peaceful co-existence between the Jewish, Christian and Moslem cultures. The top of the tower has a great view of the city and the river.

Fee: 4,50 € Adult

7

Experience the Arabic baths – Baños Árabes de Córdoba

After a day of exploring, what better way to unwind than to experience a traditional Arab bath and massage. The Cordoba Hammam has recreated these traditional baths with Caliphate architecture-style mosaics, arches, plinths, lattices and columns. In between your bath and massage, you can relax with a green tea with mint. The Hammam is located about a block east of the Cathedral/Mosque.

Prices from 24 €

Reservations required. 15% discount with Cathedral ticket.


 Historical Highlights

  • Prior to the arrival of the Arabs, Cordoba was a prosperous city in Roman times.
  • After the fall of the Romans, the city was taken over by the Visigoths.
  • In about 600 AD it was taken over by the Arabs, who brought scientists, scholars, and philosophers, and generated great prosperity from trade.
  • From the 8th to 11th centuries, Cordoba was an opulent society and center of great learning and culture, while most of Europe stalled in the Dark Ages. With double today’s population of 320,000, Córdoba was the capital of Iberia, and home to Europe’s first university.
  • In 1236, Muslim Andalusia was recaptured by the Christians (The Reconquista). Under various Catholic monarchs, Cordoba went into a decline that lasted for centuries.
  • The historical importance of Córdoba was recognized by UNESCO, and the title of World Heritage Site was given to not only to the Mosque-Cathedral, but also to all the streets and buildings around it.

Eat

There is no shortage of great pastry shops, tapas bars, and restaurants in Cordoba.  Try wandering a bit from the Mezquita for less tourists and better prices. We tried the local specialty, salmorejo, which is a creamy version of gazpacho – yum!


Stay

IMG_1508

Breakfast at Hospederia De El Churrasco

Hospederia De El Churrasco

We loved this hotel, with lots of historical charm and a great location in the old town, on a narrow street near the Mezquita. We received a warm welcome with a glass of wine, and the room was beautiful. The excellent breakfast was included and served in our room.

Hotel Marisa

This is a budget choice hotel, recommended for its excellent location directly opposite the entrance of the Mesquita. The rooms are small and simple, but clean and comfortable.