A few weekends ago I went on my first solo trip to Cordoba Spain to see La Mezquita (The Mosque) and Alcazar de los Reyes Cristanos. I have learned about La Mezquita every year since Ive taken Spanish and I really wanted to see it for myself. It is the second biggest Islamic structure in the world. On friday I took the bus from Segovia to Madrid at 1 and then took the metro from the bus station to the train station.The whole process of getting to Cordoba was very easy yet very dificult. I rode the bus in with a girl from my program which was nice. The only problem was that we were sitting and waiting for the wrong bus. By the time we realized we had to sprint for the right one. But it isnt traveling if you dont have to make a mad dash to catch your bus, train, plane, etc. When we made it to Madrid our next task was to conquier the metro. I was really nervous to take the metro because everyone (including the travel quides) warned that there is a lot of robbing that goes down on the metro. I locked my backpack and kept it close to my chest the whole ride and had no problem. It took Ashton (the girl from my program) and I about 15 minutes to figure out how to buy a metro ticket and we ended up having to ask for help. Once our tickets were purchased we were headed towards our metro when we notcied people starting to run for a train. Thinking it was ours we hopped on with them to realize that it was not our trian and quickly hopped off the catch the correct train. After a few minor misteps (obviously) we both made it safely to our destinations, mine the train station and hers the airport.
I took the train from Madrid to Cordoba at 4 and it was about a 2 hour train ride. I hadnt ever taken the train (besides the one that goes to mountain hood but that one doesnt really count) before and I was really excited. The ride was really pleasent. They played a movie and the seats were really comfortable. So comfortable that I fell asleep and when I woke up an older gentleman handed me a picture he had sketched of me. Defintely the best souvenir ever.
Once I arrived in Cordoba I set out to find my hotel which was only 15 minutes away but it took me an hour because I kept wandering in circles. I settled in and went to bed early on friday so that I would have lots of energy to take on Cordoba in la mañana (morning).
I woke up bright and early on Saturday in hopes to get to La Mezquita between 830 and 930 that way I wouldnt have to pay. About half way to the La Mezquita I realized that my short and tank top were probably not appropriate for a Holy place so I turned around to change into my dress. I didn´t make it in time for free entrance but it was totally worth the 8 euros. La Mezquita was HUGE and breathtaking. The detail that went into every aspect of it was amazing and I cant even imagine how they built it. Everything from the ceiling to the walls to the floor were crafted with fine detail. In the early half of the morning La Mezquita was really dim and light only by red candles hanging from the ceiling. It was so marvilous. The crazy part is that people still go to church there. I cant really describe the beauty of it in words so I posted lots of pictures (though the dont do it justice) so you guys can see for yourselves.
Next I ventured to Alcazar de los Reyes Cristanos. The castle iself was pretty small having only two towers but it was still a castle which makes it awesome. The best part about Alcazar de los Reye Cristanos was its gardens. They were spectaculer and defintely one of my favorite things in Spain so far. The garden itself was huge and contained many different types of gardens within it. There were flowers gardens, tree gardens, arabic baths, water gardens, etc. The sound of the water was so relaxed and I loved the garden so much that I stayed there for three hours. I love wandering the different gardens, smelling the flowers, and listening to the water. After the caslte I walked across the Roman Bridge to the other side of the river where you can see La Mezquita. Everything about this city was magicitistic. The Roman Bridge itself was beautiful.
Around 4 I went back to my hotel to relax for la siesta and around 6 set out ot explore La juderia (the Jewish Qauter). La Juderia constisted of many white washed, narrow streets that lead to different plazas, shops, gardens, etc. La Juderia was like a Lybtherin. The streets were so narrow, the buildings so tall, and so carvy that I couldnt see what was in front of me of behind me until I stumbled upon a beautiful courtyard. Most of the bulidings in Cordoba and Analucia (the provence of Spain Cordoba is in) are white with brightly accented doors, windows, flowers, and pots. One of the many things I loved about Cordoba was the mixture between Spanish alcrtecure and Arabic. One street would be the classic white Andalucian style with bright doors and flowers and the next would have deep red buildings with Arabic architecture. On Saturday night I had dinner at in a cute little patio sorrounded by white walls, blue doors, windows, and flowers, and listened to the live Flemenco music.
On Sunday I woke up later and went to La Palacio Viana which had 12 different gardens. The different gardens varied from Spanish design to Arabic design and all survied a different purpose. For example one garden could be seen from the street and was used to show the pertsege and weath of the family that lived there. Another (the innermost garden) was used to display the families most prized historic relics. It was really beautiful. I spent the rest of the day wondering around the city until it was time for me to catch my train.