Monday, October 3, 2011

Córdoba - The 2011 Version

This past weekend, I traveled to Córdoba with BU.  The entire program went together, and the trip is included in the students' tuition.  Obviously, I don't pay tuition because I'm not here as a student, but they brought me with anyways, you know, to work, which was superfabuloso.

Flower Pots on Walls
This is the second time I have been to Córdoba - the first was when I was a student in this program back in 2009.  I would like to thank BU for this trip to Córdoba - AVE tickets, hotel, meals, flamenco ticket, monument entry tickets, etc.

Like last time, we traveled to Córdoba on the AVE, the high speed train.  According to the internet, the AVE goes about 186 mph, so we got there in about 1.5 hours.  It's like a 5 or 6 hour bus ride.  I'm a big fan of the AVE.

One unique feature of Córdoba is that it's normal to hang flower pots on the walls.  I remembered seeing this last time I was in Córdoba, and seeing it again made me smile.

La Mezquita de Córdoba
Juxtaposition of the Muslim and Christian parts of La Mezquita
Upon arrival, the first thing we did was get a tour of La Mezquita, a mosque with a Christian mini-cathedral hidden in the middle.  The Muslim part of the Mezquita is filled with red and white-ish striped arches; the view is really unique and fascinating.  Even more surprising, is when you happen onto the mini-cathedral stashed in the middle of it all.  Suddenly, the style completely changes from red striped arches to church-styled luxury, lots of white, and lots of decoration.

La Sinagoga

Our next stop was la Sinagoga, the last remaining Jewish temple in Córdoba, and possibly all of Andalucia.  FYI, the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, along with anyone else who wasn´t Christian/Catholic.  The temple is very tiny, and coming apart, but we were told that it is still a popular place for small weddings because of its history.  It is different then any temple I´ve seen, and it almost doesn´t feel like a temple at all, except for the writing in Hebrew on the walls.

El Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

After the group left the temple, we went to el Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.  You know, we had to balance all the religious visits as evenly as we could.  Well actually, BU is a private university, so I guess we didn´t have to do that.  But it´s still nice to try.  The funny thing about the Alcázar was that I walked up to it, and immediately recognized the view I´d taken a picture of two years earlier.  It hadn´t changed a bit.  All throughout this trip, I would turn a corner and see another sight from one of my photos.  It was really amusing.

For lunch, we went to El Caballo Rojo and tried a cold soup, similar to gazpacho, called salmorejo.  It´s very thick, and usually served with bits of bacon and hard boiled eggs on top.  I think it is a bit lighter in color than gazpacho, and made with more bread.  Salmorejo is a specialty food in Córdoba.  We also ordered a plate of berenjenas fritas, fried eggplant sticks with a dark honey sauce, another specialty item in Córdoba.
El Salmorejo
Shaded Streets
In the evening, I went with Chloe and Julie to explore the more modern part of Córdoba.  We "needed" ice cream, and figured there would be a bunch of heladerías around.  While strolling the lovely shaded streets of Córdoba, we of course did some window shopping.  The streets have shades to keep people cooler because it´s so sunny here.  I was excited to find a Desigual store, and even more excited to find an entire display of pink watches just like the one my mom had bought for me several months earlier.

Fashionable, as Always
For dinner, we ate at El Churrasco.  Rabo de toro, "bull's tail" which is another speciality food in Córdoba was ordered.  I was torn between the gross thought of eating a bull´s tail and the need to try new things when traveling in new places.  In the end, I decided to try eating the smallest bite you´ve ever seen.  The flavor was fine, but I just couldn´t get over the thought of eating a bull´s tail.  I was interested to learn at dinner that the spine continues into the tail.  I had mistakenly thought that the tail was mostly muscle, but it looked like it was really mostly bone.  Yes, for all you vegetarians who are going to complain to me about eating hamburgers and thinking of cows, I am going to continue eating hamburgers, since life just wouldn´t be the same without them.

El Churrasco
Ham/pork/bacon is really a way of life here.  I ordered croquetas at a restaurant when a waiter told me they were filled with chicken.  Turned out they were filled with chicken and bits of bacon.  Even soups come topped with bacon.  When I was sick last week, the pharmacist told me to eat something easy on the stomach and suggested ham.  I went with rice instead.  I´m really not accustomed to eating ham, or pork, or pigs in general, but I suppose I can embrace it while I´m here.

Flamenco Dancers
That evening, BU took us to a flamenco concert at Tablao El Cardenal.  We were really lucky to have the opportunity to see two of the dancers who had won the national prize in flamenco dancing.  Flamenco dancing is so intense - you have to move your feet in these intricate patterns really, really quickly and forcefully.  The technique radiates pride.  Sometimes the look on a dancer´s face is so intense that when he/she stops suddenly and stares at you it feels like a ninja just landed in front of you.

The dancers displayed several different styles of flamenco - dances in groups, dances with shawls, partner dances, solos etc.  No one used a fan this year though.  Their dresses are so long that I always think they´re going to trip, but they never do.  I really enjoy the guitar part of the flamenco music that accompanies the dancers, but I honestly find the singers hard to listen to.  Their voices really punch the accents, and I´m always startled when they suddenly hit all these really loud, strained sounding notes.

Nice courtyard, right?
The next day we went to the Palacio de Viana, a noble family´s "house."  The guide explained that there were contests over who had the best terrace, and this house had many lavish terraces that would be likely to win.  Most of these terraces had stone designs on the ground that were beautiful, albeit painful to walk on, and many also had fountains.  From there, we checked out the Puente Romano, a bridge that flows over the Guadalquivir River, and departed for Madrid.

Patterns of Stone on the Terrance/Courtyard


  1. Very fun to read! Great photos as always.

  2. Great photos and blog, as always!