My fingers wrapped around my cup of tea to warm them up from London’s October breeze, I took several sips and stared at my best friend, Google Maps.
My month in the United Kingdom was coming to an end and I booked a flight from Edinburgh to Málaga a few days earlier. Now was the time to prepare the second leg of my journey: Spain.
It took me a long time to decide where to go. In Spain, I mean. I have heard so many great comments about how Barcelona is welcoming, rolls on its own vibe and how friendly the people are, but with the referendum going on, I preferred not to be around I’ll admit.
Disappointed to cross off this apparently-shouldn’t-be-missed city, I wondered where I should go next. Flying to Málaga made my decision a little easier. Long distance rides are more expensive than the short ones and I didn’t want to do roundtrip Málaga-Barcelona knowing that my goal was to reach Portugal.
Why not staying the whole month in Andalusia then? Wonderful weather, spanish culture influenced by the arabian one – which could definitely be interesting -, tapas to eat, beautiful beaches, hikes along the way: it had everything I wanted to experience in Spain.
Before going on my euro-trip, I bought a National Geographic travel book about Spain and, still starring at Google Maps, I was focusing hard to remember all of the places I shouldn’t miss, what to do, how long to stay and all of these informations. Because no, I didn’t bring the book with me, and yes, it was paperback. It would have hardly fit in my 28l backpack, you see.
You know that all of the important cities are hugely pinned on Google Maps, right? Well, Córdoba is one of them. So I figured that I needed to check it out. If I remember correctly, it my Nat-Geo-travel-book-that-I-left-at-home it was recommended to stay four days in Córdoba to enjoy everything and to see around. And, I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to check yet another UNESCO Heritage off the list?
I know what you’re thinking and no, I am not on an infinite quest to see every protected site just to say that I went there. But, hey, it’s another achievement… Right?
Anyway, I finished my cup of tea and wondered in London’s pretty mews thinking about how my month in Andalusia would be different from my beloved United Kingdom.
I had just arrived in Córdoba, feeling sick of my 2 hours bus trip, and dizzy from all those roundabouts. I felt a drop on my shoulder, then another. I looked up, the sky was dangerously turning grey and it was a matter of time before it would start pouring. I had a twenty minutes walk to my hostel, urging myself to walk as fast as I could to avoid being soaked wet but focusing not to throw up in every bin on my way.
I woke up well rested the following morning, ready to start my day and to visit the beautiful city of what was supposed to be Córdoba. Luckily for me, some of the major attractions were free on that evening. Why? I have absolutely no idea and I didn’t bother to ask.
I ate my breakfast rapidly, nearly pushing the cereals down my throat, grabbed my purse, and jumped in the streets, marvelling every few steps at the white houses and the red flowers. That was my impression of Córdoba for the first minutes of my first day. After awhile of random walking, it started to feel as though there wasn’t a lot to do around. The streets were all the same, only being turned to life by the flowers which were all the same color. There was no sign of cozy cafés, and, for a town which felt as small as Córdoba, there were way to many american fast-food – pizza hut, burger king, subway.
Confusion started to fill me. Four days according to National Geographic, four days! And that’s exactly the amount of time that I intended to stay there. Surely, I was missing something. At least, I knew that my evening would result in me running between the free activities so I would not miss any.
When 17:50 arrived, I joined the queue and waited for the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos to open at 18:00. I know that I shouldn’t compare this Alcázar with any other, but I do. And after seeing the Alcázar in Granada, I can’t say that this one stands out. Quite the contrary actually and I was happy to visit it for free, because I don’t know if I would have paid to see it. The gardens were… Okay I guess. Besides, there was practically nothing in the inside which makes it pointless to visit in my opinion.
Next were the Baños del Alcázar Califal. It was interesting, but would have I pay to see ranks of walls for 10 minutes? Absolutely not. It seriously felt as though it was a tourist trap and I’m glad I didn’t waste money on it.
A look at my cellphone told me it took me less than one hour and a half to visit the major attractions. Sigh. I returned at my hostel, saddened by the turning of the event.
My second morning was all about the main reason I decided to come to Córdoba: the UNESCO Heritage, the Mosque-Cathedral. The history of this cathedral is quite impressive and interesting in itself as it was first built by the islamic civilization before the conquest of Spain by the Spanish – and Christian – people. Instead of crashing down the Mosque, they partially transformed it into a church and then into a cathedral. I must admit that the result of their doing in architecture is quite interesting to see. It’s definitely a cathedral like no other with its endless arches, and its shades of brown and beige without any windows to brighten the interior.
Personnally, I think that its history is why it is such an attraction today. Of course, the cathedral has its own personality, but I wouldn’t have pay to see it, I had seen more beautiful cathedrals so far. Knowing that it was a UNESCO Heritage probably increased my expectations about it and it’s probably why I left the Mosque-Cathedral not feeling the excitement of discovering a new city like I usually do. Gaping in awe and starring with widened eyes is normally really common to me, but Córdoba didn’t feel like it was the place to do so.
My lack of photos probably says a lot about my time in Córdoba. At least, I had plenty of time to rest and to catch up with both my blog posts and my Netflix TV shows. Oh, and to eat plenty of chocolate bars. Guilty!
Have you ever been to Córdoba? How was your trip there: interesting… or boring?