This weekend I visited two cities in Andalusia, Spain: Cordoba and Seville. I was pretty excited for this trip because everyone from the first group who went a few weeks before us said that it was so much fun. On Friday morning we all met up at the post office at 8AM. I actually woke up at 5:30AM though to run, shower, and eat breakfast before we left. We had a little over two hour bus ride to Cordoba.
When we got to Cordoba we took a guided visit of La Mezquita and the Jewish quarter. The Cathedral/Mosque was really beautiful! The Cathedral was built in 1236 and has Visigoth origins. The Islamic invasion of Cordoba led to a very strong Islamic influence religiously, socially, culturally, and politically in the city. The Cathedral is the main church in the Diocese.
After dinner we went to a flamenco show at a bar that was near by. We were surprised when we got there and the place was already pretty packed. Since there was about 30 people in our group we tried to find seats wherever we could. My friend Ashley, a girl named Rachel, and I found seats at a table with a cute old couple from England. We talked a lot with the women and learned that she had a Spanish major and had studied in Northern Spain. She teaches a night class of Spanish in England. She also said that she has visited the United States and even lived there for a while because she dated a guy that went to the University of Illinois. How funny is that! They also let us share their pitcher of Sangria with them, so that was pretty sweet.
On the second day of the trip we visited the Real Alcazar and the Cathedral in Seville. In the morning we had a huge continental breakfast. Some of the food was typical breakfast food, such as cereal, toast, hard boiled and fried eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries and yogurt. They also served some very interesting and different breakfast items too. There was pretty much a full out lunch meat bar with slices of ham, turkey, salami, chorizzo and sliced cheese. It worked out perfectly because Ashley and I were able to very sneakily make sandwiches for lunch. There were even tomatoes set out that I used for my sandwich because in Spain some people put olive oil and tomatoes on their toast for breakfast. There was also a hot dish of mixed vegetables and a pan of french fires. I guess that having french fries with breakfast is sort of Spain's equivalent of having hash browns in the U.S. though. I was one of the very few people who ate the mixed vegetables with my breakfast.
After breakfast we went on a guided tour of a gorgeous, Alhambra-like building called the Alcazar. It was built during the eleventh century over the remains of the Islamic quarter. All of the artistic styles in Europe have been used in this monument such as Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, and more. Today it is the oldest royal palace in Europe. Our tour guide was very enthusiastic and animated so that made the tour more entertaining as well.
After visiting the Royal Palace we had a 15 minute break to use the bathroom and such. After I went to the bathroom I went into a tourist shop and found these cute and cheap hand-painted little bowls that I wanted to buy. However, I took way too long trying to pick which one I wanted to buy and when I went outside after buying one my entire group had left aready! I knew that they were headed to the Cathedral but I had no idea where that was and I didn´t have a map yet. I asked a restaurant worker and then frantically called my friend to ask her where they were. Luckily I was able to find the group pretty quickly, but I was really scared at first.
I think that it is partly due to my new-found love of stained glass, but I really love visiting Cathedrals in Europe. This Cathedral that we toured in Seville was huge, beautiful and had a lot of very interesting history behind it. We even got too see Christopher Columbus's tomb in the Cathedral, which I thought was pretty awesome. The construction of the main Mosque began all the way back in 1184. Since then several other parts have been added on, such as the Gothic part of the Cathedral in 1434 and the Baroque Cathedral in 1618. The Seville Cathedral is the most extensive Gothic cathedral in the world. After the tour we walked up over 30 levels to the top towers of the Cathedral were there was an AMAZING view of the entire city.
While the other girls went off in search of somewhere to buy lunch, Ashley and I sat down on a bench and ate our sandwiches. After we ate we tried to meet up with some of the other girls again but couldn't find them and decided to wander around on our own. We both have a pretty awful sense of direction and although we had a map we ended up walking wayyy out of our way to get to the bullfighting ring that we were trying to get to. We ended up walking a ton, almost off of the map, but it was all good because we got to see a lot of the city that way. It was definitely quite the adventure. We went to Dunkin Coffee and I got chai tea while Ashley got an ice cream cone. Then we went back to the hotel and I tried to take a nap before dinner but I couldn't fall asleep. Dinner was once again an amazing buffet with tons of options, such as chicken, fish, rice, pasta, soup, salad, lemony cake, pudding, fruit, and more. After dinner a few of us girls went to a bar with our two coordinators Jorge and Danny.
On Sunday, our third and final day of the trip, we checked out of the hotel around 11 and headed over to Maria Luisa Park and the Plaza de Espana. The Plaza and the Park were huge and really beautiful. First, our entire group explored the plaza and took pictures there.
Ashley, Sarah, Sara, Kelsey and I walked around in park for a while. After the park we walked to a plaza area and ate lunch. We sat in the plaza for a decent amount of time talking, enjoying the sun, and in Ashley's case, taking a nap. I finally found a plastic snow globe for my collection that wasn't overpriced so I bought that. At 4PM we met at the bus and headed back to Granada. It was a very fun trip and for me, a very cheap too. Since I took food for lunch at the continental breakfast I spent less then 10 euro the entire trip on things such as ice cream, tea, and a few souvenirs. In May we are going to Lagos in Portugal for a weekend trip so I'm really excited for that too!