Day 6 - Córdoba

we've built a city where nobody sleep
this thing is forever, it's twenty four seven
I love you so never let me, never let go

No Esperes Más - Alex Cuba feat. Anya Marina

That song above is so good, I do recommend you to YouTube it. However I don't think it's like super famous or gets traction that I couldn't find the correct lyrics for it. The one above is how I heard it. The song is in Spanish and English and it's perhaps my favorite in this trip playlist. So anyway day 6 was spent exploring Córdoba on my own. It went so much better than I expected and it was one of the best day of the trip and I took so many pictures, so this post will be filled with them.

Córdoba is not as far as Granada from Seville and the more I googled about this, the more I was convinced that I can do a day trip there on my own. So I took the train to Córdoba and the train was early at 07:00 AM. Well it's not super early, but as mentioned in the last post, when you got out and it's still dark, it felt early. The reason why I took the early train was because the main reason of visiting Córdoba was to visit The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba. I googled around and confirmed from its official website that entry to the Mosque-Cathedral is free from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30. I was there on a Saturday and hence I chose the early train so that I could make it there for the free period. The train station was near the hotel, but I did make sure to leave earlier because reading the train board can be not a straightforward thing for me. Luckily it was easy enough. My train was going to Madrid with a stop in Córdoba. With that settled, I thought I should get snack. There's McDonald's, but I didn't want anything heavy so I choose this filled doughnut from another cafe. It's a doughnut still with hole in it, but it's ring had filling inside. I was shocked when I found out the price. If I'm not mistaken it's 2 euro something. I straight away thought of Lisbon where things were cheaper and that nice patisserie near my hotel. Then I went to my platform in which there's staff checking the ticket there and bags must go through the machine. That was something new for me. I booked a window seat. I was hoping the train would be empty and quiet, but then a girl came to sit next to me. It was okay though.

That morning train was an express train with no stop in between. It only took 45 minutes. So I arrived at 07:45 AM. Studied the map and all before this trip and it should be like a 20-minute walk to the Mosque-Cathedral, which I'm just going to call La Mezquita now. However, the dumb me just went off walking before getting oriented first and as such I was epic-ally lost. Seriously, instead of stopping when I realized I was not in the correct street and trying to figure out where that street is, I just walked off further and further. In retrospect, I could have used the train tracks as my orientation, but I was too dumb :[ I walked through this area which I assumed suppose to be the park that I had to be in, but I was wrong. Finally I decided to ask people. It was perhaps still early on a Saturday that actually there weren't many people around. In my desperation, I asked a random lady walking her dog. She didn't speak English. Luckily I think I pronounced La Mezquita okay enough for her to understand me. She sincerely wanted me to understand her instruction, but with only Spanish, I could only get the big picture. I was thinking damn how my Italian knowledge didn't do any good there. I was hoping that my Italian knowledge can somehow help me with the Spanish, but sometime the words are so different especially when spoken. I fare better when I read Spanish I think. Anyway, I followed her general direction, but it led me to more of a city area which I thought to be wrong because La Mezquita should be in the old town. So I asked a waiter preparing to open a restaurant, thinking he surely speaks English. He did not :[ The good point is generally I was in the correct direction. The not so good point is again I could only get general direction from the waiter. So I walked, then after sometime, I asked a random lady. She somewhat spoke English, but then she wasn't sure about the direction and she said, I think it's that way *sigh*. At a certain point there's this couple walking in front of me. I thought they might be going the same way, but they could also be not. So I stopped following them after awhile and went off on my own and I got lost in like a maze of alleys. Sometime I can be so stubborn and go deeper into a mistake, but I was getting tired so I decided to track back to where I last split from the couple and then continued on to the path they took. Then, somehow, I made it. I was half convinced that I reached the place, but a part of me also said maybe not, but I made it. I made it and I was so happy!!! I made it by 08:45 AM. So that was like around 1 hour of being lost and walking? Gosh, I was so stupid but at the same time I was so happy to made it, thank GOD!!!

There's bag check before going in and there were already quite a number of people inside. La Mezquita as its English name, Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, suggests was a mosque that is now used as a church. From the entrance I walked towards the end of one wall and hit what I think is the mihrab, but reading Wikipedia I found out that this mihrab is not the kiblat (Indonesian word for qibla), the direction which Muslims pray. So I don't know in which direction the Muslims prayed when this was a mosque. Anyway in this wall, there's a few designs such as this.

Now that it's a cathedral, there are many chapels for prayers all around. What's amazing and really beautiful for me is the many pillars, all in perfect alignment with each other. It has this block of red and white marbles, some looked older than others. Truly it's another thing that I'm truly blessed to have been able to visit.

I was planning to spend time there until the free time is up. About 10-15 minutes before 09:30 AM, the staff started to usher and shepherd all of us out. The official opening hour starts at 10 AM and in the courtyard filled with orange trees, I saw a queue started to form. There's also a bell tower, but climbing up enclosed stairs is really not my thing. After a few more pictures also from the outside, I made my way to the Alcázar. By the way, there were many entrances to the compounds, but not all of these gates are open. They also come in different design and are quite beautiful.

The Alcázar, its full name is Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and its ticket price is 4.50 euro, which I thought was quite cheap, so I decided to go in. There was not much of a queue when I got to the ticket counter. An Alcázar as Wikipedia explains it, is a type of Moorish castle or palace in Spain and Portugal built during Muslim rule. This one is not very big and I guess that's why the ticket price is not very high. It has towers which luckily wasn't that hard for me to climb. Inside the building, there's some art works and some mosaic tiles. The garden features long fountain with flowers all around. The flowers were blooming, including my favorite red poppies. At the far end of the compound, it also has a section of walls covered in roses. I thought the blooming flowers are what made this visit so interesting even though the whole compound is not really mind blowing for me. It's just nice and relaxing walking around looking at beautiful flowers.

Here is a picture of the Alcázar which I took from one end of the long fountain and also a view of one of its long fountain.

As I was about to leave, I met the Indian couple from the day before. We did talk about our plan of going to Córdoba the day before. They were in a tour. We just said hi hi and went on our way. Next to the Alcázar, there's this horse riding school, similar to the one I saw in Vienna. I had no interest though even back when in Vienna, so I didn't go in. Ticket is rather expensive too if I'm not mistaken. Honestly I didn't have much plan about what to do in Córdoba and I did become concerned if my trip there would get boring. What I knew I wanted to do after the Alcázar was finding this courtyard statue. When I found it, it was the start of something exceptionally wonderful.

Near this statue, there's a house and I saw people going in and out and I know they were going for the patio. I know that there's Córdoba patio festival. It hasn't started when I was there, but signs were everywhere. This year it started on May 1 for about 2 weeks. That happened to be the day I flew back to Singapore. So anyway I saw people going in and I followed them and I had a peek at the patio before and old uncle asked me for the ticket. He didn't speak English but I understood that ticket is required and he pointed me at the direction to get the ticket which I actually knew where exactly. Actually there were already people selling the tickets outside of the Alcázar, but I didn't even bother to find out more because I thought they would be speaking only in Spanish and I thought it was something to be done in group. So the house that the uncle indicated was a house that I already passed on my way to see the statue and I did see the sign. So I went in. There's a guy and I was concerned that he wouldn't be able to explain well in English when I asked, how does it work? Luckily the guy speaks English :) It worked like this, the ticket is 5 euro and you get access to 5 houses. There's a map with the ticket and all the houses are quite nearby to each other in the San Basilio area. There's like an uncle / older man in each house which will mark your ticket once you have entered. The first house was actually the house where the ticket was sold, so that was like perfect. The guy also promised to point me to the next house after I was done with the first house. So here's the start of the many pictures I took in Córdoba and why this trip became so memorable. It made up for the fact that I was super lost that morning. The patios were just breathtaking for me. I may have said this is insane or this is crazy audibly because they were just so beautiful, too beautiful. Like I so want to have this in my own house someday. It doesn't take a lot of space, but definitely a lot of effort. Pictures here are from the different houses, I forget which is which.

When I finished in house 1, there were actually many people so I thought the guy wouldn't remember me. He did though and when he saw me going out, he pointed me to the next house, but I already knew where it is. House 2 was the best I think and it has also won many prizes dating more than 2 decades. There's a lady selling some stuff there too. There are people living in these houses, I think she may have lived in one them. I think I would go crazy having many strangers entering my living space, but the patio is too beautiful and I think you do have to share beauty? I hope if I have something beautiful, I wouldn't be too selfish to not share it with others. House 3 was crowded when I passed by, so I went to house 4 first in which somehow there was a time when I found myself there all alone and it was like bliss. I wanted to stay longer but I realized there's a group outside the door. The uncle there was like talking to them, I think letting me have my time. When I went out, as the uncle took my ticket to mark it, he started talking to me in Spanish. I think he's asking me if I have had a good look and I said si, molto bella (Italian for yes, very beautiful). I don't know if he understood this. He called me mija which I always love when the father in Ugly Betty called Betty with because I thought that is so endearing. Somehow I understood him when he's telling me that house 3 was crowded and I responded yes hence that's why I went here first (in English), then he told me to go to house 5 first. His direction was different from the map, but we confirmed both paths worked. I was just amazed we kinda understood each other. I love the personal familial touch of this. Anyway, as I passed by house 3, I saw it's not very crowded anymore so I went there. After that I went to house 5, along the way finding myself alone on the street and I was so happy because I had been seeing beautiful things. House 5 was okay. Honestly all the houses after house 2 just kinda fell short. It may not be as beautiful as house 2, but if you happen to find yourself alone in the pretty patio you can't help having your heart smile. Another thing I noticed in these patios is that they have wells in them. I can't recall if all the houses have wells, but at least 2 of them do have. There were also 2 free patios that I entered too, but they're not as pretty. You can give a donation if you want to, which the stingy me didn't do. If you think about it, 5 euro for 5 houses is like 1 euro each. If you go to the free patio and give like 1 euro, it's more or less the same. Also my earlier plan was to visit Palacio de Viana's patios if I had free time and didn't know what else to do. The ticket price was also 5 euro and that was like further from the old town center or train station, so that's quite a walk. With my luck that day, very likely I would have gotten lost again.

During the Córdoba patio festival, it seems all the patios are free and there are more patios located all over. So that would be like super interesting. I wonder if it's going to be very crowded though. Honestly as I was walking between houses and the streets with not many people in them, I wondered where's the throng of Asian tourists. Asian tourists would love this, but I guess big tour groups don't really go to these patios. If I have the chance to be in Córdoba during the patio festival, I would be so lucky. After the patio, I went to cross the Roman bridge with the Calahorra Tower at its end. I didn't enter the tower, didn't feel like it. By the way, that day I've been seeing boys and girls with their parents dressed up to the nine taking pictures all over, like in Alcázar and by this bridge. I wonder if it's because they just had their catholic confirmation. It was a good day that day, the sky was blue, the weather was pleasant, not very hot. Anyway, this is the Calahorra Tower with the Roman bridge.

The day was getting more crowded with tourists especially around La Mezquita. I took more pictures of its different gates and then had lunch in one of the restaurant nearby. Then I walked around to places like Calle de las Flores, which means flower street, but there were too many people and the alley was narrow and though there's potted flower pots on the walls, it just fell short in comparison compared to the pretty patios. I also made my way to see the old city wall that enclosed this old town.

After that I thought let's call it the day. I had walked a lot. I reached 20,000 steps that day. I was also quite concerned about getting back to the station. Going back I did have my moment of confusion, but when I found out I was in the correct direction, I was quite relieved, but still I ended up checking the map like every 5 minutes to make sure I was on track :D Arrived in the station quite early, but it's good I guess. When I got on the train, there's a lady sitting in my window seat. I was quite annoyed because I purposely booked a window seat, but I thought it's not worth the effort to tell her that, so I let her be and I sat on the empty seat next to her. This train back was not direct, we stopped along the way and in one of the stops a guy came and said I was sitting in his seat. In English, which I don't know if he understood, I guess he did, I explained that the lady was sitting in my seat so I sat at that seat. He talked a bit with the lady, but I guess the lady just told him to sit anywhere :( He did, but this is the reason why you do need to sit at your assigned seat. I'm just glad there's no drama. I'm also so glad, so happy, that I had such a successful day trip on my own. I know for some people this may be not much, but I feel happy that I achieved something, so happy. I had a really really really good day and I thank God for that. Okay, I have so many pictures, here's the links:

:) eKa @ 2:04:00 PM •


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