Monday, November 30, 2009

Córdoba: a voice thief

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.

Aaaaand that was our whirlwind visit to Córdoba.

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