Córdoba for the weekend (15-18 Sept)
18.09.2005 22 °C
FRIDAY 15 Sept:¨"Medinat AL-zahara" Friday was the first excursion for our program. The group split in half (as was the fab 5) and Chris and I, apart from our other 3/5, went to the ruins of the Medina, which is the old Islamic word for city. The place took nearly 10,000 men and close to 25 years to build only to be destroyed 100 years after construction started by a civil war. The Medina was built by the Muslim Caliph (king) during the time when Córdoba was the Islamic capital of the world around the 10th century. The tale is that he built it for his wife, but the real story is that Córdoba, the main city, was too populous for his liking, so he built himself a palace about 6 km outside the city where he, his concubines, religious/political officials (which were the same people) and the army worked and lived. The palace itself isnt very well preserved for the exception of the "office" of the Caliph, a few archways, some of the pools where water was kept, an oven and remnants of the fortress walls and living quarters.
The entire fortress was built from the rocks from the surrounding Sierra mountains for the exception of the marble and ivory columns that were imported from the middle east. The walls are decorated elaborately with carvings, although none of animals or humans because there were not allowed to be depicted in art. The carvings in the stone on the walls consists mostly of geometric shapes and plants, such as the tree of life. The walls surrounding the 2nd of the 3 levels of the original Medina, were military barriers and built at 90º angles as to more easily defend. The pools around the palace were also interesting, and when I asked why so many reflecting pools I was told that the Muslim community loved the sound of water, which was scarce in their native country.
The Medina was an intersting place, it was hard to imagine it as the citadel of the once capital of an empire extending over 3 continents. Next week is the Mezquita, the "cathedral" for Muslims here in Córdoba.
FRIDAY NIGHT: Out on the town was the name of the game and the fab 5 (not named by me) aka Chris, Cody, Marissa, Jessica and I met up at Plaza de las Tendiallas (i have no idea what that means) where we broke out sippee cups and hung out with some Spaniards, learning new and useful words (like ronronrear=to purr) before heading to a bar/club for a little late night/early morning dancing. After a couple hours of Spanish dance music (not as bad as it sounds) I was ready to call it an (early by Spanish standards) night, and headed home around 4am.
SATURDAY: a day of much needed R and R. I woke up to find both Carmenita and Diego at friends houses, so i kinda had the house to myself except for Carmen who was in and out. I spent the morning sipping my tea and reading Harry Potter in spanish (which takes about 3 times as long), before popping in Matilda (also in spanish) to take up the afternoon. Later, Marissa, Cody and Chris came over and we hung out by the pool.
SAT NIGHT: That night the 5 of us had decided to go out for a traditional Spanish dinner aka Tapas. Carmen had recommended this great place, called Salinas, by the Plaza de las Corederras which served traditional Cordobese cuisine. After a 30 minute wait we were finally seated and in a state of utter indecisiveness, let the waiter pick the dishes, wine and dessert (although we piped up for the caraf of sangria). Our meal consisted of about 8 different dishes including some of the following (*** is the highest rating I am giving any dish): Salmorejo(***) a creamy tomato paste garnished with hard boiled egg slices and pieces of ham. Spinach and Garbanzos (***) which had a little bit of a curry/mexican flavor, Fried vegatables (**), Croquetas and Croquetas de Bacalao (**) which are fried balls or cylinders of different vegetables or meats, Araña fritos (*) which is fried fish, and another type of over salted fish with some orange slices which doesnt deserve a rating. The dessert was ok (*) some pudding surrounded by a less sweet version of flan and chocolates. The wine, whose name if am forgetting was the house Tinto, the famous type for this reason, and was very good (**). It was not to dry, a little on the sweeter side, and one of the better reds I have tasted.
After dinner we walked our stuffed selves up to another plaze to meet up with Rafa (Marissa´s intercambio) and friends for a little more spanish hour before heading home.
SUNDAY: Up, out and about bright and early, Spanish time. Met up with some people to head out to the Mercadillo (a big street or flea market) in an area called Arenal by the stadium here where the river bends. The vendors mostly sell clothes and shoes and they all pretty much look the same. Somehow I managed to escape with only a few additions to my Euro-wardrobe which now includes pleather yellow stilletto boots, white sunglasses (of the obnoxiously large type) and long string of beads, which is pretty much a necessity here. After walking the market we headed back home walking along the other side of the river, and catching a great view of the Mesquita and ribera (waterfront) of Córdoba.
Im glad i stayed in Córdoba this weekend, there isnt always a lot going on but its nice to get to see the city in its normal routine. Things are starting to cool down weather wise, and the holidays are almost over which means that businesses will be open more, all the schools will start, and I will be able to get a picture of what Córdoba is like for most people, most of the time.