Despite having been camped in a car park all night in a busy area of town, we had enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep. This was disturbed by the alarm clock going off at 06:30. Plan 'A' was about to swing in to action. Up, scrubbed and fed we were heading for the Mezquita at 08:00, the theory being that we would beat most of the tourists there. Today being Sunday the opening hours for us tourists had changed because of hugely disruptive things like church services. The first opening hours today were 08:30-11:00, and then a much longer session in the afternoon, but by then we figured it would be far too hot and much, much too crowded.
It was a lovely cool, peaceful walk at that time of day. We arrived there at 08:20, ten minutes before opening. There were about eight people ahead of us, in what wasn't actually a queue. In those short ten minutes lots more people turned up. I felt as if there was an atmosphere like the January sales, with people being polite, although there is only one sixty inch HD telly in the sale for just £299, and you want it, but maybe so do they. People were keeping an eye on each other. Once the doors openned it would be war.
Typically when the large gates opened late (this is Spain) the ugly bird who had been casually inching her way up the mass suddenly made a dash across the quadrangle to the ticket office. Where are the bolts of lightning when you want one?
Two tickets purchased, we walked across to the entrance to the Mezquita, the Great Mosque. It dates back twelve centuries, and embodied the power of Islam on the Iberian Peninsula. The building evolved over the centuries, blending many architectural forms. In the 10th century al Hakam II made some of the most lavish additions, including the elaborate mihrab (prayer niche) and the maqsura (caliiph's enclosure). During the 16th century part of the mosque was destroyed to make space for an included cathedral.
Because we were so early the first part of our tour was very peaceful. There were photo opportunities everywhere you looked. It really was a magnificent building.
We were in there for about two and a half hours with nobody bothering us to buy clothes pegs or lucky white heather.
That done we wandered back to the motorhome to find there was a Sunday market being staged on the massive Cordoba Football Club car park. This meant that the local junk-hunters were parking on our car park in order to attend it. We were slowly getting hemmed in, and so we decided to break camp quickly and make for Toledo, our next port of call. It was two hundred miles to get there, give or take, and I thought that even if we did a big chunk of the journey today it would be a big help. Off we went. The scenery was very interesting, comprising of zillions of olive trees, spread over squillions of acres of farmland. It was almost no-stop olive groves between Cordoba and Toledo, with the addition of vineyards at many locations. It makes you appreciate just how big this country is. We saw huge fertile plains with 'mountains' as backdrops. Huge areas of flatland just like The Fens back home, Mile after mile of crops disappearing in to the far distance. Never mind Germany, this country is so vast it could easily take a million economic migrants, just give them each an olive tree to hide behind and you'd never know they were there. The Chef made best effort to capture the vastness of it all with the camera, but crash barriers, road signs and blurred trees just don't do it justice.
Lunch was spent in a Truck-Stop having topped up the fuel tank (about £1 a litre).
During lunch I spotted a car wash facility just down the road, and once fed we took the vehicle down there where a DIY wash and rinse was four euro's. Money well spent as we'd managed to get about nine weeks of dust and muck off.
Onward we went until we had cracked the whole journey. We had two options, a campsite or a car park down by the train station. We were getting a bit fed up with car parks and so opted for the campsite. It is www.campingelgreco.es very nice indeed, but very expensive. I may need to put The Chef out on the streets to pay for it.
So it's been a long day. We now plan an early night followed by an early rising to get stuck in to the joys of Toledo.
Due to the high content on this section of the blog I have renamed it 'Gibraltar- Toledo'. The next section will be 'Toledo - Pamplona'.