My trip to Cordoba introduced me to many things: two of the most significant being the ALSA bus network and the practice of meeting random people on the internet and then spending almost a week with them and no one else. Oddly, both of these experiences went unexpectedly well.
ALSA is now simultaneously my new best friend and the bane of my existence. Anyone who knew me as a child knows that I have a little bit of an issue with motion sickness. I managed to get over this for the most part due to frequent trips to “L.A.” (also known as Anaheim, Mission Viejo, etc) with the good ol’ club volleyball team. But despite my Coast-given strengths, I still fear tire swings and any form of long ride in a four-wheeled vehicle.
So armed with a travel sized vial of Dramamine and a diet coke, I began the five hour bus-ride to Cordoba from Madrid. Well, I am getting ahead of myself. Before I got on the bus, I met up with a girl named Lindsey. I don’t exactly remember how we “met,” but I think she was messaging back and forth with another girl named Jen that I had corresponded with on Facebook, and that girl told her to get in touch with me since we had similar travel plans. So Lindsey, my Facebook friend of a Facebook friend, met me at my hostel and we set off for Cordoba, via taxi, then ALSA bus.
Buses here are not like Greyhounds back home. Actually, they are exactly like Greyhounds back home (or at least how I imagine Greyhounds to be), except without the stigma and the possibility of your seatmate carrying a gun that they could murder you with. Ok, ok, ok. A little dramatic, but kind of true. I think I also am just less scared of things here because I haven’t watched Law & Order SVU recently, so I haven’t been thinking about violent crime lately? Ugh. Aaaanyways…
During the bus ride, I was treated to views of dirt, factories, and…OLIVAS! Olive trees everywhere. They were pretty at first. I will get into this in detail later. This lovely view was accompanied by an a cappella performance of select Beatles tunes, which were being absolutely butchered by the woman with the portable CD player in the seat ahead of me. It took me about five minutes to realize that she was singing in “English” and another five to realize that it was the Beatles, which should indicate the quality of the performance. It reminded me of my friend Larisa singing “I’ll be your crying soldier” instead of “crying shoulder” in high school (I forget what that song is called, something from the 90s) and about 50 other songs that I used to sing as a kid with nonsensical lyrics that I just made up because I had no idea what they were actually saying in the song. This lady was doing just that, but it spanned two languages which made it even more….awesome.
Once in Cordoba, we took a taxi with a very strange, not very nice driver to our hostel, where we were checked in by a machine that looked like a an ATM, but didn’t actually work. I think we might have been the only humans in the hostel, and it just wasn’t very memorable. Cordoba was cute, and we met up with the aforementioned Jen from Facebook to deposit my suitcase in her apartment since I couldn’t physically get it up to our fifth floor hostel room and the ATM check-in machine wasn’t about to help me get it into the locked luggage room. I think that day we just took a nap and then went out to dinner and drinks. Typical day in Spain.
The next morning, we went to the Mezquita, which had honestly been played up just a little bit too much for me. I mean, it was really, really nice inside, but I wish people/books hadn’t told me that it was “SO INCREDIBLE!!!!! OMG OMG OMG.” I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It also would have been nice if there weren’t like 6,000 old people there on a number of senior tours being led in like ten different languages. Loudly. Still, it was worth the admission fee, and it was interesting to see the really obvious blend of Mosque/Cathedral that I feel is usually really overwhelmed by the Cathedral aspects in other places where the Catholics have attempted to completely wipe away any evidence of Islam in the buildings they have taken over. It also got me to really take out my camera for the first time on this trip, so I have it to thank for that, too.
I didn’t really put a lot of effort into seeing Cordoba because it’s so close to Jaén and I know I’ll be back. We were also only there for about 24 hours, so we didn’t have a chance to give it a chance. All in all, what I saw was really nice. Not my favorite city in Spain, and lacking some of the vigor of the bigger cities I’ve been to, but nice.