University of Wisconsin–Madison

Birthdays, midterms, and Córdoba, oh my!

This week (November 16-23) was a very busy and stressful week. Not only was it my 21st birthday on Monday, but this was also the week of midterms and program excursion to Córdoba, Spain. Midterm week goes just about as you would expect it to; you spend all week studying and preparing for your class’s midterm exams. My favorite place to study for midterms, of course, was at La Bicicleta.

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Fortunately, I only had 3 midterms to study for since only Reunidas classes give midterms and not Complutense classes. But this also meant that it was extremely inconvenient to go out and celebrate for my birthday which was disappointing since it may be my only birthday in Spain ever. However, once the majority of my midterms were finished on Tuesday evening, a group of my friends took me out for dinner and churros to celebrate together and it was a very enjoyable evening.

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After midterm week ended, our program planned another excursion for WIPT. This time to Córdoba in the southern region of Andalucía. Although I had just been to Andalucía a few weeks prior (Sevilla), I was excited to visit another city in the region- not to mention it was a free trip through the program. 

We left Madrid at 8am Saturday morning and the bus took approximately 4.5 hours to reach Córdoba with a brief rest stop halfway to use the bathroom and have breakfast. Once we arrived, you could immediately feel the drastic change in air temperature. Even with overcast skies, it was absolutely beautiful. We were let off by the bus on the outskirts of the city since it’s almost impossible to drive such a large vehicle down the narrow city streets. We grabbed our bags and headed towards the city center. The entrance to the city is an old bridge lined with painters and artists attempting to capture the essence of the charming city.

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Our first stop was checking into a hotel “El Triunfo” located right in the center of old town. Once we dropped off our things, we had a few hours to explore the city and eat lunch before we all gathered for a tour of the Mezquita. Córdoba is one of those cities that is almost too cute to be real. The streets are tiny and lined with little shops and beautiful roads. Essentially, the idealized version of what you would expect a little street to look like in Europe.

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After lunch and walking around the city a bit, we met up with the rest of the group at the Mezquita de Córdoba.

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This is perhaps the most famous attraction in Córdoba. Originally the Mezquita was a Catholic church built by the Visigoths, then converted into an Islamic mosque in the Middle Ages. After the Reconquista, it was made back into a church once again. The cathedral is regarded as one of the most famous in Moorish architecture. The alternating red and white arches located in the mosque give you the impression that you somehow ended up in Wonderland- it’s mesmerizing. Definitely one of the most unique building interiors I’ve seen.

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While in Córdoba we had one of our Reunidas history professors, Almudena Ariza, gave our group a tour of all the important buildings and sights. It was great to learn about Córdoba through our own personal tour guide. 

After spending time in the Mezquita, we went on a walking tour of the city with our guide. Stops on the tour included Callejón de las Flores (a narrow street lined with flowers), Universidad, Casa Andalusí, Iglesia de San Juan y su alminar árabe, Museo Arqueológico, Arco del Portillo, and Plaza del Potro: smaller, yet interesting sites of Córdoba.

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Once our group finished the walking tour of Córdoba, we had free time to explore the city. A group of us went to see an old site of Roman ruins. It’s crazy to think about how expansive the Roman empire really was that we find ruins all the way in Córdoba. The ruins looked surreal lit up at night and every once in a while you could see stray kittens running around and playing in them (how adorable!).

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Soon after, we happened upon a Christmas market in a plaza in the city. Here you could buy an assortment of foods and gifts associated with the Christmas season.

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You could tell it was a popular location to be in the city and many people gathered to grab a bite to eat or get a jump on their Christmas shopping. Once we finished exploring the market and the city, we headed back to the hotel to have dinner with the rest of the group.

Sunday started out with another short walking tour of Córdoba. and we saw la estatua de Maimónides- who is a famous and influential Spanish writer, philosopher, astronomer, and physician. Pretty cool dude.

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We then had a brief tour of a small synagogue followed by a visit to the Baños Árabes. This used to be a public bathing location for the community. We took a tour of the interior of the bathing rooms, located underground, but the beauty of the baths were the exterior pools that would eventually flow into the baths. I can only imagine how beautiful they are in the summertime.

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The last stop on our visit to Córdoba was a visit to the Álcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. Although the gardens were much smaller than the Álcazar in Sevilla, it was equally as beautiful. The gardens were filled with vibrant blooming flowers and ripening oranges gracefully placed between lovely water features and pools. Our group spend a good amount of time exploring the Álcazar and it’s gardens.

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To finish our visit to the Álcazar, we climbed the tower to have one final view of the gardens and Córdoba before we headed back to Madrid. It was a great end to a enjoyable weekend in Córdoba.

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I could go on and on about our adventures in Córdoba with the WIPT group, but like I did with Segovia, I thought the best way to show our excursion to Córdoba would be to make a video.

Enjoy!

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~Bailey