Viva Espana: Day 13 – Last Day in Córdoba

It was my last full day in Cordoba, and I marched purposefully out of the cafe where I had stopped for breakfast.

Today’s mission was to visit a couple of shops to buy a couple of specific souvenirs that had caught my eye in the last couple of days. And I knew exactly where those independent shops were. Or so I thought.

I’d walked past them endless times the day before, while wondering if there really was only one path away from the Mosque-Cathedral. I was sure I had found more routes the day before.

A friend had warned me that the streets are moved around at lunchtime in Córdoba. I think it happens after breakfast. I swear each road or block of buildings stands on its own individual tectonic plate… and they definitely move.

There can be no other explanation for how I ended up so badly off course, standing outside the old city walls next to a series of pools. You think I’m joking? I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction (except in hospitals or large hotels), and this town has me absolutely baffled. I keep turning around to see if the alley moves behind me.

One of the many things I love about Córdoba is the surviving Arabic designs – especially on the walls of the cathedral – but also decorating the window frames of houses while the riad I stayed in sports some beautiful designs around the doorway.

I sense re-tiling the kitchen may be iminent.

However, being practical about this and remembering that I am carrying a 40 litre rucksack, bulk-buying a stack of tiles does not appear to be a wise idea. There just isn’t room for them all.

Oh yeah… and I’m not actually strong enough to carry the tiles I’d need for the kitchen.

So I was looking first for a scarf shop where I was bound to find something lightweight that mimicked or even replicated the types of designs I was looking for.

I went back through the walls to start my search again.

The streets stopped playing silly buggers, and I actually found the shop. Anna was delighted to help me. (I bought tailor-made dresses in Hoi-An, and a woman called Anna owned that establishment, too).

Anna in Córdoba explained that she specialised in traditional designs – Islamic and Spanish – because she sees it as a way to share the beauty of the culture. She showed me some mantilla designs that she said would have been worn by women of her grandmother’s age – she thinks it’s important that the designs and therefore the memory of the women are carried around the world.

From here, it was going to be a lazy day of wandering…

…and drinking tea… It’s not only the Arabic baths (original ruins or modern facilities) that have survived in Córdoba. The tea room, though not as many as I might have anticipated or hope, can also be found.

Low chairs and tables, colourful decor, cushions, throws, plants and the occasional gramophone all add to the laid-back atmosphere… along with the extensive range of tea. For me, it was green Tunisian tea with pine nuts.

It was a good place to spend a few hours as Wednesday appeared to be Tour Day in Córdoba. I wonder if there is a schedule? Tuesday really hadn’t seemed as busy and arriving on Monday, I discovered that most of the museums seemed to be closed (which isn’t unusual).

Is it Toledo on Fridays and Córdoba on Wednesdays for the tour companies?

Today, from before I found somewhere for breakfast, lines of people snaked obediently after orange-jacketed, miked-up tour guides carrying flags down the narrow streets. Outside the various 30-strong gaggles, I also began to realise that Córdoba wasn’t as busy as I had thought it was (and I didn’t think it was that busy).

If I had been shocked to bump into Cynthia and Carl in Madrid, I was no longer surprised today to recognise two women who had been at the hammam at the same time as me yesterday; or see the couple who had sat opposite me in the tea room at lunchtime wander past me as I headed out for dinner.

And as I made my way back to my hotel tonight, I swear I passed little Pol-Potty screaming in a high chair at a roadside restaurant. (The child has a distinctive temper tantrum).

It’s a small world sometimes.

Categories: Córdoba, Spain, Travel, Viva EspanaTags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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