Cordoba Roman bridge

This is Day 3 of my Portu-Spain Adventure travel blog series through southern Spain and Portugal where I share my travel experiences along the way. Join me three days in as we begin exploring Valdepeñas and Cordoba Spain, the food, culture, history, and architecture. To start from the beginning of our trip with days 1-2 in Madrid go here.

Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Blog Day 3

On day 3 of our trip we had an enjoyable bus drive through the Andalusia region of southern Spain. As we left the city of Madrid and headed south, we witnessed miles and miles of agricultural landscapes, scenic mountains, and rolling valleys. From our window seats, we admired the fields of verdant olive trees, fruit trees, sunflowers, and vineyards etched perfectly through the terrain. 

About 3 hours into our trip we took a detour and stopped in a charming little town called Valdepeñas, located in the center of a grape-growing district well known throughout Spain for its wine. Aside from the wineries, Valdapeñas has a rich history and culture. The town is home to several museums, including the Museum of Wine and the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Plaza Espana downtown Valdepenas Spain
The Plaza Espana in downtown Valdepenas, Spain

Exploring Valdepeñas

Our bus drove down the narrow streets with only inches between the old buildings before stopping at the entrance of the La Bodega Las Estrellas Winery. This 5th-generation family-owned 200-year-old organic winery is located in what is known as the Castilla La Mancha wine region, the home to Don Quijote. The owners, Karina and Dionisio produce wines naturally without additives or sulfites. 

Dionisio de Nova Garcia and wine guide,  La Bodega Las Estrellas Winery
Wine guide and owner Dionisio de Nova Garcia of the La Bodega Las Estrellas Winery

We toured the winery, and the cellar and sampled their red, white, and rose wines along with a small sample of fresh bread with some sort of topping said to be something Don Quixote enjoyed in the book. The host was very kind, the wine was tasty, and the tour was delightful. From there we explored the streets around the winery taking in the beautiful Spanish architecture. 

Don Quixote snack
The La Bodega Las Estrellas wine cellar

While exploring Valdepeñas we walked towards the downtown square called Plaza de España above the C. Juan Alcaide area there were colorful umbrellas hung high above the street with cables offering shade as we walked. It was beautiful witnessing the shimmering colors under the bright sunlight. Each cast fascinating geometric shadows onto the brick facade as we passed by the local shops and cafes. 

hanging umbrellas Valdepenas Spain
Hundreds of umbrellas hung above C. Juan Alcaide Street

The Plaza de España is a beautiful square surrounded by historic buildings. There we found a table outside one of the many cafes and the server brought us some small complimentary bites of fried fish in a basket that were seasoned perfectly. Jose, being the perfect host ordered some traditional tapas that included roasted potatoes with tomato, croquettes, and manchego cheese all of which were delish!  I enjoyed a cold Spanish beer called Alhambra while relaxing under the shade of an umbrella in the summer heat.

Assumption Church of Our Lady, Plaza Espana, Valdepenas, Spain
The Assumption Church of Our Lady in the Plaza Espana
Roasted potatoes with tomato
Roasted potatoes with tomato

We all got back on the bus and headed off to our next destination to Cordoba about 125 miles south. The terrain showcased more of the same, olive trees, sunflower fields, and beautiful white-washed buildings characteristic of the region’s Arab and Roman influences.

The City Of Cordoba

Cordoba Roman Bridge with town in the distance

We checked in to the Hotel Eurostars Palace a 5* hotel within walking distance to the historic Mosque–Cathedral, La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating back to 784 A.D.. This charming 2000+ year-old city hosts beautiful flowers, gardens, mid-evil castles, and moats. I captured a photo of the beautiful Roman bridge, Puente Romano crosses over the Guadalquivir River, in Cordoba. The river is the fifth-longest in the Iberian Peninsula and the only major navigable river in Spain.

moats outside the medieval city gate Cordoba Spain
Moats outside of the medieval city gate
White washed Cordoba buildings
Barberia peluqueria puerta de Almodovar, medieval city gate
Barberia peluqueria puerta de Almodovar, medieval city gate from the 14th century
bike chained to a pole on the cobblestone sidewalk
Building with pink flowers in Cordoba, Spain

We took a few hours to tour the Mosque-Cathedral and its stunning Islamic architecture. The building was originally a mosque, but after the Christian conquest of Cordoba, it was converted into a cathedral. Our tour guide shared the many historic milestones as well as the art that was beautifully displayed throughout. I was awe-struck by the intricate details of the arches, domes, and columns. The complex mosaics magically captured the light from above while leaving me to contemplate the mystery of its holiness.

Mosque of Abd al-Rahman I in the Mosque-Cathedral Cordoba Spain
The original Mosque of Abd al-Rahman I in the Mosque-Cathedral
Main Chapel ceilings, Transept Choir, Mosque-Cathedral Cordoba
The Main Chapel, Transept, and Choir
art, ceilings, Mosque-Cathedral Chapel of Our Lady of Conception
Chapel of Our Lady of Conception

We headed back to the hotel to freshen up before going to dinner at a small quaint restaurant. It was late when we finished eating but Jose had a surprise for us. We found ourselves rushing towards the Alcázar Palace of the Christian Kings before it closed. As the last to get in through the front gate, we walked through the palace out back into a brilliant light show infused with music known as the Magic Nights at the Alcazar.

Cordoba, Spain, Alcazar Palace night Lights and fountains
Alcazar night lights and fountains

All throughout the area, under the moonlight, music synced to colorful light projections on the ponds, fountains, gardens, and architectural structures. It was an enchanting experience of wonder and amazement for our entire group that lasted more than an hour.

Only three days in, I was feeling overwhelmed by the history and beauty of our trip so far and the experience was full of wonderful memories with my friends. Each day so far we have traveled hundreds of miles by bus and walked 6-7 miles by foot. As I closed my eyes after our third day, I had no problems falling asleep despite being even more excited about what was ahead. 

Worlds of Spain Group Photo

The Creative Push Vlog on YouTube

You can watch the Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Vlog Day 3 in this video.

The Creative Push Podcast

You can listen to the Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Blog Day 3 here or on The Creative Push Podcast!

Thank you for reading, if you liked this story please share it with others and stay tuned for the remaining 9 days ahead. If you are interested in booking this southern Spain and Portugal trip feel free to check out my friend Jose Aznar’s site Worlds of Spain!

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To read artists’ interview stories visit The Creative Push blog!

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To see my photography visit Sheri Oneal Photography!

There are more stories on the way!!

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