Friday, March 7

Morocco-Andalucia, Day Ten: Deliberate Distractions

This morning we went to what was described to us as an Islamic History Museum hosted at the Torre de la Calahorra. We went under the advice of our friend from last night since it wasn't to be found in any guidebook or anything. This wasn't too surprising once we got it: to be frank it was a bit of a Muslim, One-Love, Peace and Harmony puff-piece than museum. That's not to say that it wasn't interesting; it's definitely worth a visit and I heartily recommend it.

We had a good few hours before Jummah so we grabbed the opportunity to get back to the Fiat garage in order to finally fix that accursed mirror. It was a relief to finally get it sorted - in fact I'm quite proud that we had the initiative and ability to have gotten it done at all under the circumstances.

Jummah was a strange affair. I mean the prayer itself was as normal (well apart from the Spanish khutba) but the mosque itself was not much bigger than a bedroom - I've seen company prayer rooms larger than this place. Oh and just in case anyone is looking for a place in which to pray Jummah as a Muslim in Cordoba then head over to Plaza de Colon and look for the mosque therein.

Before we headed out of Cordoba proper we managed to squeeze in a good 45 minutes in the Medina Azahara, a tenth century Islamic capital a few miles away. It was closing so we didn't get to see it in as much detail as we would have liked, although we had fun playing hide and seek with the guards trying to chuck us out.

It was finally time to leave for Granada. We chose the country road over the motorway even though the latter was supposed to be the faster route. This turned out to be the right decision: not only were the roads more fun and views more interesting but we also ended up making an unscheduled stop.

Around half way on the road to Granada we saw a picturesque town situated on a hilltop, a magnificent castle in the middle. It really was something from a fairytale and there was no way we could carry on without making a quick stop; after all we were over an hour ahead of schedule.

It turned out that the name of the place was Alcaudete. The castle and adjoining church were as impressive close up as they were from afar, but the real treat and deal maker was the young band practising nearby for an Easter performance. We spent a few minutes just chilling and enjoying the music without a care in the world. I think we distracted them more than anything else; I wonder how many Pakistanis they get sitting in on one of their practise sessions.

Getting out was harder than getting in, with some of the narrowest streets I've ever had to drive on. Were talking the scary stuff where you have to fold your mirrors in because the walls either side are the width of your car apart and a wrong turn meant reversing a few minutes because you can't turn around. Still, the whole visit was a wonderful and unique experience, well off the beaten path.

We finally made it to Granada airport, almost an hour late. The hotel was more difficult to find than we thought considering it was placed opposite the Alhumbra itself. After yet another late dinner we hit the sack: tomorrow will need a super early start as we try our luck in the Alhumbra ticket office queue. I'm still worried that we might miss out so I'm doing all I can to avoid the disappointment - even if it means hitting the queue at 6:30am.

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