Today is already Wednesday, and I cannot believe how much we have done in such a short time! I am drafting this post on our four-hour bus ride from Córdoba to Granada, and when you can read it, you will know I made it to a wifi zone at our next hotel, where our AWESOME guide Elena says there is better food, better wifi, and a pool! THANK GOD. It is so hot here, and I haven’t seen a cloud yet. The blue sky makes all the white buildings with colored accents pop, but I would appreciate a nice cool breeze every once in a while.
Yesterday (Tuesday) we had our first and only full day in Córdoba. The morning consisted of hotel breakfast buffet (I had bread and jamón, seedy but super red watermelon, and delicious café con leche), a lesson in Spanish about the imperios ibéricos (hence, “Imperium” seminar) with some religious history of Spain, and free time to walk around the city surrounding our hotel. The immediate area is on the edge of the Jewish Quarter in Central Córdoba, according to my awesome guide book, Rick Steve’s Spain 2013, and after wandering around for a little while with a bigger group (travel note: bad idea to try to explore a city in a group of 12 indecisive people… gave me Disney ’11 flashbacks haha), a smaller group of us ordered a couple slices of pizza and watched a cooking show that was taking place in front of a pool. Qué interesante. (travel note: pizza is understood in every language, take advantage).
In the afternoon, we walked through more labyrinthine streets over riverstone cobbles and I was amazed at how intimate the neighborhood felt. My favorite thing about Spain so far is the thick, whitewashed walls, colorful doors and windows, and narrow streets, while hidden within are manicured patios (if the door is open, it is an invite to look in!) with tiled signs and around every turn there is a tapas bar or tiny souvenir shop! I picked up something for my mom while I was there. She would love it here, so many colores.
We eventually made it to our destination, The Mezquita (or Catedral Córdoba), which is an enormous catedral that was previously a giant mosque and a Christian temple before that, built in 760 AD (And I thought Boston was old…). The most notable structure is a large tower that housed either church bells or the man who called the Muslims for prayer, depending on which religion ruled the area at the time. The juxtaposition of Muslim and Christian architecture is amazing, with a church with angels and statues of saints literally within a mosque, with Muslim architecture and mathematical patterns lining the ceiling. Again, I was amazed at the detail covering every inch of the high ceilings and walls. Outside, there is a giant wall enclosing the area, and there are fountains (FINALLY, AGUA) and palm trees to complete the oasis. Today, the Catedral is under Christian control, and holds mass regularly.
After a quick fro-yo with Ferrero Rocher chocolate topping, Rachel, Hailee, Rhiann, Allison and I took a detour to see the Roman Bridge, and then had to ask an information booth for a map to get back to our hotel. He spoke English and was muy helpful. For dinner we had bread and ham (…again…) and a few other things, but I am definitely missing my mom’s cooking.
After dinner Allison, Rhiann and I hung out in our room, chatted and caught up on the American pop culture we’ve been missing being cut off from modern civilization Twitter and Instagram. I had a little bit of a homesick spell, but after a quick pep talk via Viber and Whatsapp from Addy and Michelle, I was feeling much better. Culture shock is real, but the experience is all too short to be wasted on being sad.
This morning we had another quick lesson (you can probably guess what we had for breakfast) and then we went to see the Sinagoga, which was built in 1315 AD! Again, another example of the tumultuous religious history of Córdoba, but beautiful nonetheless.
This castle sits atop a hill on the way to Granada, and was wonderfully renovated in the 19th century, making it an accurate representation of a fortress-type structure that served as a defense during the religious turmoil. The panoramic views were incredible, and even my awesome Canon camera can’t do it justice. The depth of the stone walls against the whitewashed town below and sprawling countryside was indescribable, so enjoy las fotos.