Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sevilla y Córdoba

Saturday 3/10: Sevilla

We started with an early morning leaving from Granada and taking a 3 and a half hour bus ride to Sevilla.  We arrived by 11am and went directly to Plaza de España.  The weather was beautiful and we toured around the city a little bit.  The plaza was amazing, it looked like something right out of a movie, which is ironic because it is... Apparently there's a couple of movies that have been filmed there, including star wars episode II? not really what I expected but that's fine :) Anyways so the plaza has a river that runs around the inside of it with little boats in it and 4 bridges that represent 4 of the 5 original kingdoms that made up Spain.  It also had a long castle-like balcony that went around half of the plaza which they not use for their municipal buildings.  From there we went to a palace called Alcazar and we wandered through its Islamic buildings and the gardens which were filled with people, fountains, and oranges that you couldn't eat. I'm not entirely clear on what this palace was to be honest with you, but it was still pretty impressive.  We had some free time for lunch where we wandered around and ate out in the sun, enjoying the 75 degree weather :)  After lunch we went to the cathedral, which looked very much like all of the other cathedrals that we've been to, so I won't tlak about that too much, however it has a very famous bell tower called the Giralda and we climbed to the top of that (35 ramps and 70 steps later) to look out onto all of Sevilla.  When we were done at the cathedral we walked to find our hotel and had some dinner quickly because we had to meet up to go to a play that night.  The play was actually pretty good, and I understood all of it so that helped a lot.  We had already read the play in one of my classes and watched the movie too because our professor realized we didn't get anything out of the last play we saw because it was so confusing.

Sunday 3/11: Córdoba

Our alarm didn't go off because we accidentally set it to pm instead of am :P oops, so we woke up 20 minutes before the bus left and ran downstairs for a quick breakfast, which was still so wonderful because they had cereal and eggs! Oh how I miss real breakfast foods!  So then we hopped on the bus for another couple of hours and headed to Córdoba.  We stopped about half an hour outside of the city at some ruins that were an Arab-Muslim palace-city called Madinat Al-Zahara in Arabic or Medina Azahara in Spainsh.  It was really warm again so we had short sleeves or tank tops walking around through old ruins that looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  It was hard to look at everything that we were walking through because there were literally hundreds of caterpillars on the ground and of course, I just felt terrible stepping on any of them, so we tip toed our way through the caterpillar crowds down into the ruins. At the bottom there were old floors and arches that used to make up the inside of the ruins and a square with nothing left but the bases of the pillars and four palm trees spaced perfectly apart that used to be the mosque.  So we climbed our way out of the hoards of caterpillars and crumbling stones and hopped back on the bus until we made it to the center of Córdoba.  From there we walked into a small plaza that had a staircase lined with flower pots along the wall and a man playing traditional Spanish music, it was so peaceful and absolutely perfect.  It was one of those moments that pulled you out of reality and set you in a place where you could stay and be perfectly content for the rest of your life.  We stayed there until the synagogue across the alleyway had opened up and went inside a little room containing nothing but a menorah.   It used to be a safe haven for the Jewish people who were not even allowed to speak their own language in the streets.  We didn't stay long and walked to the center of the city to have lunch.  Casey and I split off from the group (per usual) and found a perfect tapas bar to eat at.  It was completely empty when we walked in (yet completely full when we walked out) and they gave us so much food for so cheap!  I really wanted to try "rabo de toro" which is a very traditional dish in Córdoba, and for those of you that don't speak Spanish (most of you)  that means bull tail, but I wasn't able to try it because they gave us so much food!  Oh well, I'm sure I'll get another chance or live without ever trying a bull's tail, could be worse ;)  After lunch we met up with our group again and took a tour of the cathedral/mosque of Córdoba.  It started off as a mosque but then the Christians arrived and built around and inside of it, luckily they didn't tear it down because it was so beautiful.  Today it only acts as a cathedral religiously, which is a shame, but the original architecture still remains, now mixed in with the roman and other christian architecture.  Of all the religious places I've visited (which is A LOT) this is without a doubt my favorite.  When you first walk in, all you see are rows and rows of aisles made up by white columns and double arches that are striped with brick and stone.  Then there is this one little threshold, more like a ramp that you walk up and are immediately thrown into the cathedral section of the building.  It goes from the dark striped colors to wide white marbled domes and sculptures on the ceilings with stain glass windows along the walls.  As you keep walking the two very different styles are mixed together, with the gold and green paints of the mosque against the white marble of the cathedral.  Absolutely amazing.  I've really never seen anything like it.  Anyways after that we left to get back to the bus and walked over this old Roman bridge.  Overall it was a very long trip and we were exhausted, pushing everything into the two days and of course traveling always makes me tired but it was so worth it, like always!  :D

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