Grey Matter Explosion

Trip Start Dec 16, 2009
Trip End Jan 09, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Saturday, January 2, 2010

Off to the bus station, a little over a 30 minute walk from the hostel - this could have either been done by local bus, or via a 15 minute walk followed by a 7 minute tram ride, but it's always good to walk before or after a bus ride to keep your legs feeling good. The walk also gave us the chance to pick up some breakfast before departing, and was also one last chance to see Sevilla's beautiful architecture.

At the station - we saw Michael board the bus, which I wasn't sure was going to happen because when I purchased tickets online last night, there were only a few seats left. I wonder if it's the time of year; I've rarely had trouble walking up and getting tickets for the next bus, but it seems that most of the buses we're taking this trip in Spain are almost fully booked a few days before departure.

We arrived in Cordoba, about a two-hour ride from Sevilla. The opportunity existed to take the high-speed train there which only takes 45 minutes, but is super expensive, something like 30 Euros, whereas our bus was only 10. Our time isn't that valuable, so the train wasn't even considered.  Once there we boarded a local bus for the city centre, and got a bit lost on the way to the Terrace Backpackers Hostel - it's got a fairly cool vibe, a bit artsy, and seems like a cozy place to rest for the night.

Off to sightsee - the first stop was a tiny synagogue, the only remaining synagogue in Andalucia, I believe. The nearby Casa de Sefarada housed exhibits on Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) life in Cordoba, which we skipped. The residents of Cordoba are very proud of their patios, usually leaving an outer door open so that passersby can come in and see them through a metal gate. There is even an annual competition for the best one in the city, and a number of past winners are clustered a few blocks away from synagogue; unfortunately for us, none of them seemed to be on display today.

Up next was La Mezquita, Cordoba's famous hybrid cathedral/mosque - some consider it the only reason to visit Coroba, and I would say it's definitely reason enough to come to this city. I have never, ever seen anything like it in my life - it has a tumultuous history, having changed hands between Muslims and Christians, with each group putting their own stamp on La Mezquita.

The interior of La Mezquita was much cooler than it was outside, so we all had buttoned up our jackets, and whoever had them put on their toques and gloves. After, needing to warm up, we popped over to Plaza Tendillas for coffee and tea. Then it was back to the hostel for some relaxation before heading out for tapas, but I decided to go for a walk and to pick up a few things.

Aside from some tourists in the old city centre, Cordoba seemed a bit quiet today, but I headed north past Plaza Tendillas and over to Plaza Colon, and across one of the main boulevards in town.  It was completely packed with people, bringing back claustrophobic memories of Moroccan medinas.

It took me forever to get into the local branch of El Corte Ingles, Spain's biggest department store chain. While there, I tried confirming the truth about something Spaniards say about Cordoba - that it's home to the most beautiful women in all of Spain, no small statement to make.  Ever since first hearing this "truth" about Cordoba a few years ago, I've wanted to see Cordoba for myself, but haven't managed to make it here.  I was super excited about coming here, but truth be told, this excitement was tempered by some trepidation ... given how incredibly beautiful I find Spanish women, how would I react?  The typical beautiful Spanish senorita makes my heart palpitate, my palms get sweaty, and my pulse quicken, and reduces me to a blubbering fool (even more so than normal).  What would happen if I found even more beautiful Spanish senoritas in Cordoba, would my head explode, splattering grey matter all over La Mezquita?

Earlier today, I had seen quite a few beautiful Spanish women out and about in the old town, but most appeared to be tourists from other parts of the country. At El Corte Ingles, it was mostly locals, and the number of beautiful women was quite a pleasant thing to watch.  Now I can't definitively say that the women of Cordoba are the most beautiful in all of Spain, but I definitely can say that there are very beautiful women here, and that perhaps Cordoba has more of them than some other Spanish cities. I think an in-depth study into this is warranted; perhaps some university in Spain will fund my research?  I don't need much funding - just room, board, and enough money to buy coffee and sit around all day long at outdoor cafes watching the women walk by. 

Back to the hostel to meet Mary and Michael for tapas - we had agreed to meet at 8 PM, but I was definitely going to late, as I hadn't accounted for the incredible pedestrian traffic that was clogging up Cordoba's main arteries.  There was a bit of a Christmas market, complete with an ice skating rink, set up on Avenida de Gran Capitan. I finally made it through the new town and back to the Jewish Quarter in the old town, where I got a bit disoriented in its narrow little streets, and ended up taking the long way back to the hostel as a result.

Mary and Michael had picked up an extra person for this evening, Jose David (JD) from Colombia. We all headed off to the new town for the buzzing paseo taking place at the moment, and made our way back to the Jewish Quarter for the tapas bars.

The old town is quite touristy, and it seemed to be mostly tourists in the tapas bars, but unfortunately, there weren't any tapas bars to be found in the new town. After our first stop, we continued along in the Jewish Quarter until we found a place with a drool-inducing menu, deciding on what we wanted before we even set inside. Sadly, the place was closing up, so we weren't able to eat there - what kind of self-respecting Spanish tapas bar closes up at 10 PM, anyway???

A true tapas crawl would involve at least three or four bars, but we finished off after only two, the second of which being the best of the evening. It wasn't the typical bustling night of tapas as most of the bars were dead quiet, and our second stop of the night was on a tranquil corner of a terrace.  The evening was still very enjoyable, nonetheless.
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