The bus Saturday morning was scheduled to leave at 8am. This has been drilled into our heads. The final e-mail we received the day before the trip had three reminders, the first of which read:
Be punctual, we will leave at 8:00. Unlike in the army, soldiers will be left behind.
Hah. Izzy and I unexpectedly got to the Córdobus (haha?) at 7:35, to find that Michael and our program director, Juan, were earlybirds as well. Needless to say, not everyone was there by 8. And of course we did not leave them behind. I don't remember what time we actually left..8:15? 8:30? I was tired and trying to sleep while we sat there waiting.
Had one pit-stop halfway there, and arrived in Córdoba around 1pm. This is where we got dropped off:
After checking in to the hostel and dropping our stuff off, we had about an hour and a half to go find lunch before our first item on the agenda began. Being thrifty and smart, myself and four others walked to Eroski, a grocery store, to buy lunch. Baguette, 2 apples, a few slices of ham, and a bar of chocolate: around 3 euro. We had a picnic outside - it was a gorgeous day.
Our tour began with the famous Mezquita de Córdoba, which has an interesting history. Briefly, it began as a Christian Visigothic church, was rebuilt into a mosque, more reforms, more naves, was at one point the second largest mosque in the world, then Córdoba was recaptured by King Ferdinand III and the mosque was changed into a Christian church with the addition of two chapels as well as more naves.
So it's huge. Pictures really don't do it justice, but here are a few:
Then we walked around more of the town. Charming, little walkways; cobblestone streets - often impossible for cars to fit.
We had dinner at the hostel's restaurant that night, which was included with the trip. Yummy. First plate: Tortilla de patatas. Second plate: vegetable paella with salad. And some ice cream for desert, which I couldn't help but to have a bit...
Here's an after dinner pic from later that night:
While we were out later that night, my voice started to get a bit rocky. Woke up the next morning without much of one. It was raining hard when we woke up, not any of that sissy rain we'd had in Madrid. I reeeally wanted to stay in bed and catch up on sleep. But alas, there was breakfast to be eaten and a bus to catch! After breakfast we climbed on the bus with our tour guide and went to the arqueological site of Madinat al-Zahra.
So it's raining out. We're all soaked from the initial walk to the bus from our hostel. And I really didn't listen to much of our tour guide on the bus ride to Madinat al-Zahra. She kept mentioning some movie... we were going to watch a movie about this place. Then we arrive. And here's where I made the worst decision of the day: grabbed my purse instead of my umbrella. I only have lack of sleep and clear thoughts to blame for this one.
We left our bus only to get on another, a city bus, that took us to the actual site. So while I'm expecting some museum type thing or a movie, we then spend over an hour walking aroun through the actual site. Outside. In the cold rain. Did I mention I left my umbrella on the first bus in the parking lot, and instead was lugging around my purse, which had things I didn't want to be wet? Anyway... so that part was all a blur. Was just focusing on not stepping in the huge puddles, as my shoes/socks were soaked enough. It was foggy, grey, and you couldn't see much. A shame, because I'm sure I would have been 20x more interested on a sunny day after a full night of sleep.
Then the city bus took us back to the first parking lot. And we head in to a lil museum. And finally watch that movie I had heard so much about earlier. It was a lil 15 minute film. Then we bus back to Córdoba. We were scheduled to have 2-3 more hours of free time in Córdoba, and then head back to Madrid. However, since Juan is the coolest prof ever, he told us on the ride back to Córdoba: "I realize the itinerary says we're here until 3:30... but I think we've all seen enough of Córdoba. We're cold and wet... so if nobody strongly opposes, I think we'll have an hour in Córdoba to find something to eat, and then head home at 2." Everyone was happy with this.