It’s sad to write about my final group trip with the WIPT program! Travelling really draws people together in a way that nothing else does. Even though the 50 of us have only had a short time together, we’ve been through a lot. Group tours, (interesting) residence hall food, crazy roommates, and life in a foreign country– we’ve done it all.
Anyway, Córdoba was a lot of fun. The bus trip was pretty long but we stopped once and refueled on coffee and snacks. We left early Saturday morning and left Sunday afternoon. Due to the five-hour bus trip, we only really got one morning and one afternoon in the city. I would have loved to stay longer and see things at my own pace.
The hostel was really well kept. Honestly, it felt more like a hotel than a hostel in comparison to the place I stayed in in Barcelona. I could keep my stuff a bit more strewn about (as I prefer J) because I knew all of the people in the program, and the shower and bed facilities were private to each room. This aspect was really nice because I had a bit more personal space and could get things done faster in the morning as opposed to traipsing back and forth across a hallway. Also, the hostel came with a nice breakfast in the morning which seemed pretty authentic to Andalusia. My friends and I didn’t like a lot of the food there (or at least found the flavors to be weird), but I could tell we were eating food you would find in Wisconsin. For example, I bit into a fairly unassuming white cookie to find it had a very strong licorice flavor. A friend of mine generously spread what she had hoped to be strawberry jam on her toast in the morning to find it was actually a salted tomato paste with olive oil and basil. A different brown colored cookie had a surprising savory flavor of a pretzel with sesame seeds on top. The oranges were by far my favorite. They were served with the stems still attached and looked like they might have been freshly picked from the front yard.
Córdoba itself was something else. It’s famous for its Arab architecture and Arab-style baths. We climbed a castle to see a broader view of the city and I could see reflective pools and beautiful orange trees for miles. The weather was in the high 80s in the heat of the day when we were touring in October, so I can’t imagine what the place must be like in the summer. Our tour guide mentioned that it was simply unlivable. The long corridors and cobblestone streets were very similar to the layout of old Spanish cities like Toledo. Some streets simply “end”. You get to a certain point, and you can go no further. This is called a caul-de-sac in the US, but Spanish cities do this in a much less organized style. When you run out of road to use, you have to turn around and try somewhere else.
The “Mezquita” is definitely the place to go if you’re touring the city. In pictures at the bottom of the blog, you’ll recognize its signature red striped arches that mirror one another. If you’ve ever googled Spain, you’ve probably seen these arches. The arches are supposed to look like a repeating “forest” of mirrored patterns, giving the impression that the interior of the synagogue continues forever. This is supposed to help visitors meditate and consider the infinite nature of reality. Many of the arches have had updates due to their age, but a few authentic ones remain. The middle of the synagogue is beautiful, but most of that section was redone rather recently. There was a really cool overlook on a higher balcony of the synagogue but it was roped off for tourists. Drat.
You can also pay to use an Arab style bath in Córdoba. My friends and I heard about this so we brought our swimsuits, but found all of the places to be more than 30 euro and mostly booked. If we wanted to go, we would have had to reserve a time from midnight to one-thirty in the morning. We figure we’ll return as (wealthy?) old ladies one day and book in advance. Heck, maybe we’ll even splurge for the massage service. Until then, we’re planning a cheaper ladies night with nail polish and Nicholas Sparks movies.
That’s all for now.