There are a few more memories of Granada I should mention before moving on - the tagine we ate in a little Moroccan restaurant hidden in the alleys of the Albaicín district, the famous Cassata wedge-of-ice-cream from the Los Italianos Heladería, walking up the hills at night and stumbling on wide plazas overlooking the Alhambra. Honestly though, mostly I think about the tagine - it was maybe in my top five best foods I've ever had in my life. And it was our final send-off meal before we took a mid-morning train the next day to Córdoba, our last stop in Andalusia.
Typically, Paul and I alternate years for our anniversaries. Spain was "my year" so I had made a special effort in my planning to make sure our one night in Córdoba would be super romantic. I decided to go all in and found us the nicest hotel close to the Mezquita - the Balcón de Córdoba - and because it was the nicest hotel close to the Mezquita, I reserved the very tiniest room. For extra fancy to offset the tiny, I added a couple of their little "extras" (mostly because I'd never done that kind of thing before). So I ordered some rose petals (romaaaaaantico) and a piece of cake (...pregnant...) to be there when we arrived.
Feeling a little silly about it all, I wrote a long note in the comments box trying to explain how it was our anniversary and the last one we were having before I was having a baby and I was really pregnant (so...cake) and it's okay if you don't have rose petals and we'll be there around 3pm and is there a chance this room possibly has a bathtub instead of just a shower and I'm only asking because in Denmark there are no bathtubs and we miss taking nice baths and rambling rambling self-conscious ramble. I hit Send and didn't think much about it after that.
Fast forward to our train arriving in Córdoba.
We picked up our trusty orange backpacks and set off down the greenway for our thirty minute walk into the old city, reading through our Rick Steve's guide to Spain and the Córdoba city tour along the way. With all the hype I'd put around Granada, I hadn't realized how interesting Córdoba was going to be! It was where we first starting reading about the emperor Hadrian and how he had been born very nearby - it's no coincidence that our lovely and fascinating short time in Córdoba led to us later name our little traveling fetus Hadrian three months later.
The old city walls were such a surprise and particularly impressive - dating back to 200 B.C. - and were the second oldest structure we saw in all our Euro travels!
Once we made it into the historic city, we could see so many layers of history and religion - wandering through Jewish, Arabic, Christian, and Roman streets and eras and buildings and art just like it was the most normal thing in the world.
But all of that detail is for another post. The real story here is about the Balcón de Córdoba of course!
We found the entrance just around the corner from the Mezquita complex - a modern glass door that looked hewn out of a stone wall. Three steps in and we were in an open courtyard with a beautiful orange tree shading a garden and fountain. Three more steps in and we were practically run-over by the most kind and polite person I've ever encountered at any moment in my life for any service or transaction or anything.
The first words out of his mouth, in perfect English, were "We've been waiting for youuuuuuu!" And in seconds Paul and I, looking a little silly with our utilitarian neon-orange backpacks and regular-person clothes in such a fancy place, were simply wrapped up in ultra-hospitality. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a cushy chair at his check-in desk, holding a goblet of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and our backpacks had been whisked away.
He (I wish I remembered his name! I'm going to call him Julio.)...Julio made all the usually boring parts of checking in fly by in a second and then stood up with a huge smile and said, "We've all been so excited for your surprise!" (I hope it's not...an expensive...surprise...I thought.) As we walked up the stairs, Julio talked about the history of the building, the Roman artifacts just casually sitting in corners. Since I always do my research, I knew the names of the little rooms, but we kept passing one and then another. Julio, being Julio, could probably see that I was getting confused/nervous, and he gave us a huge grin and told us how the staff had read my note about me being pregnant and it being our anniversary and all, and they had decided to upgrade us to their nicest room as a congratulations present!
And guys, it was a really....reaaaally nice room. It was basically the penthouse. And they had even remembered the rose petals and cake.
They had given us the room that was THE Balcón of the Balcón de Córdoba - with even an outdoor bed overlooking the mosque and the old city below. In the early morning, before dawn, I woke up from our indoor bed, wrapped a thin blanket around me, and went out to look up at the stars. Before I knew it, I'd fallen asleep and woke up to the sound of a beautiful call to prayer as the sun was just beginning to rise.
We ate our breakfast in the courtyard garden and then came back up to our suite for the rest of the morning, maxing out our pre-check-out time on our two balconies.
And, of course, taking a couple relaxing jacuzzi baths.