The first thing about Cordoba was that it was HOT, very very hot! The moment I got off the train it was walking into an oven. When I got out of the station I went in search of my number 3 bus, and after a bit of wandering I saw number 3 drive by.....s***. I was NOT in the mood to wait for half n hour for the next one so I decided to grab a taxi, the first of of my whole trip, so I thought I could treat myself this once.
After checking in and armed with a map and a to do list from the guy at the hostel (originally from Christchurch) I set out into the 35 degree day....Cordoba turned out to be a very touristy town, with loads of middle aged white people (who all look like they come from England i.e. pasty white sporting a nice pink burn!) and as I was walking around I noticed we were all the ones stupid enough to be out in the heat as all the locals must be home having a siesta. I first went out to an old round fort/tower by the main town bridge and got an audio guide and learnt a bit about the history of the place, semi interesting but I also had to fight my way through a plague of primary aged kids who were also there which ruined the experience a bit (I also had to resist the urge to pummel most of them and gag the screamers!)
I then set off and had a wander around town for a while and saw the outside of the mosque that I was going to see the next morning as it is free in the mornings up until 10, and 8 euro after, so that was enough reason for me to wait! I was out until 7.30 and at that point I had had enough of the heat (it was still 28degrees!) so I went back to the hostel to have a lazy night, rest up and start again tomorrow. On the way back to the hostel I went down what I thought was a pretty main street, and I saw a girl hanging in the doorway and I thought they must do that when it's so hot outside, then a little while later I saw another, and was surprised how dressed up they were.....well five more girls later I realised I had found myself on Cordobas prossie ave! Apparently most things start late in Spain but the sex industry starts very early!
The next morning I was up bright and early and headed off to the mosque. This place is huge and really quite beautiful and I hadn't seen anything like it before. I have almost been saturated with temples and churches and forts and cathedrals, but mosques are still novel at this point! The whole mosque is huge and takes up a town block, a small block, but still it was impressive. It was first constructed in 785 and enlarged by subsequent generations. However the Christians transformed it into a church in 1236 and put cathedral right in the centre of it, somewhat wrecking the effect of the original Muslim building, but pretty beautiful in its own right. I was really glad I went in the morning as everyone has to adhere to strict rules of silence and I could wander around without children screaming and then they started a church service, they started playing the huge organ and singing some aerie chant which was put through speakers and the sound filled the whole place and it made it feel pretty magical. After that I went to see the old town baths which were down underground, and I wandered through the different rooms constructed of old stone slabs, creating hot, warm and cold rooms, and a bath room and toilet and steam room. All very old and some bits reconstructed, but pretty cool. From there I wandered to the Alcazar de los Reys Christianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs) a big old building where I navigated my way up one of the small windy turrets to see a view of the some of the city and a truly beautiful garden that I didn't even know was part of the grounds. It wasn't that big or really different to others alcazar gardens I have seen but it was just that everything was in bloom and there were huge long water troughs and it was such a neat place to wander around, and I just sat there for a while in the shade and watched the people wander around.
With it all still being ridiculously hot and all that activity packed into one morning I had to go back for a siesta and then in the afternoon I ventured out again for a bit of a wander. I found a nice cafe to have some Paella and a tinto de verno or three, as it was going to be my last night in Spain and I just sat there for ages and watched the world go by, then it was back to bed and prepare for my next day big day of travelling across the border.