I’m currently writing this as I’m sat at the front of the ever- so luxurious coach headed to Málaga to meet with Chris for a sunny weekend in Nerja, on the south coast of Spain. For Erasmus students, like myself, traveling by bus seems to be the only appropriate form of travel for our wallets and purses. If we happen to catch the train somewhere, it’s either extremely far away that there really is no debate, or we are treating ourselves big time. despite their costly tickets, the high speed AVE trains can get you to the northern easterly city of Barcelona from sunny southern Córdoba in just 4 hours. So when the time is right, it is more than worth it as it can allow you to explore and travel to new places super easily. However many people do underestimate how relaxing the bus is! When it’s not fully booked; a choice of seating with a lot of space, oh and free wifi! Not even the trains can boast about that.
Well, as much as I am sure you would all love to carry on reading about Spain’s transport system, let’s move on and take a look at what the Easter month of April has thrown my way over here in Spain! First of all, university work has been pretty non-existent in our vocabulary for quite a few months now, however suddenly there has been a lot of university work and coursework given to us to finish and hand in for a couple of weeks time; our teachers have decided to pile it all on in our last 2 weeks for a wonderful send-off! At the moment, we are all very homesick and stressed with work that the end seems like the perfect solution to our still-evident culture shock. Side note: I did find Heinz baked beans and some cheddar cheese! Not as strong as Cathedral Extra-mature cheddar can provide, but it felt like home on a plate . Having said this, among all our stresses and worries, we are also packing in as much as we can to this festive and summery month as Córdoba has slowly but surely found a permanent place in all of our hearts and there is no doubt that when we get on that last plane home, a small part of us will always belong here in Córdoba, waiting for us to return in the near future. The sun is shining and every moment should be cherished until we have to say goodbye.
It’s the month of the patios, which is when the Cordobians decorate their balconies and home patios in a bid to be the prettiest of all. Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the prettiest patio of them all? The best part? Córdoba has provided a map of all the patios so tourists can enjoy the beautiful essences of Córdoba. We also have the feria straight after University finishes which is an annual festival and it is absolutely huge. It’s the biggest anticipated party of the year where every single person gets involved. The university and all the schools close (England take note at the relaxed way of life; where enjoyment comes before work.) It is the most perfect way to round off an incredible year abroad, and my grandparents will be here for a few days to join in on the party! Luckily it’s right up their street- Spanish beer everywhere, food, dancing, music all under the warm mediterranean nights. My mum will also be coming out next weekend, after I get back from my weekend with Chris ( I know, one big party right?) but I am super excited to show her the difference between what I know now and what I did when we both first came out all the way back in September.
Take a look for yourselves!
Enough of what is to come, but what have I been up to?! Well at the moment my whole life feels dedicated to studying, even though the reality is that it’s only been a couple of weeks of real work and I think that has been a shock to my system in itself. I chose to visit Torremolinos and Granada during Semana Santa (Holy Week). It’s the equivalent of our Easter except without all this commercialised excess of bunnies and Easter eggs, and because they are predominantly Christian, they still consider Easter to be a religious holiday, whereas over in England the true meaning of Easter has been easily forgotten. You can witness parades through most of Spain and one of the most famous is in my neighbouring town Sevilla. Be warned though, because even we knew what to expect and we’re still freaked out, that the procession outfits look practically identical to those of the Klu Klux Klan. I’m still confused as to why this is, if it does have a connection and why nothing has been done about it. It is amazing to get involved but at times I couldn’t help but feel morally uncomfortable watching them storm through the streets. Equally, it is definitely worth seeing as it is incredibly moving and a symbolic part of Spanish culture.
During Semana Santa, we wanted to do some traveling and so as I said, we chose Torremolinos because it is a close beach for us and we wanted some sea, sun and sand. It’s a very tacky resort, full of the picturesque British family leathering up their skin and congregating to the closest Irish bar in sight and then moving to the full English bar next door in the morning. Nonetheless, it had some pretty streets to get lost in, and a long beach where we managed to swim. The day after, we travelled to Granada for the day as I couldn’t leave without visiting the heavily adored city. It was beautiful, very hilly and big compared to our little Córdoba, but basking in the sunshine with the Sierra Nevada behind was a postcard waiting to be sent home. It was about 30 degrees, which for a full day of sightseeing and walking around was extremely tiring. Especially after 2 full days dedicated to sunbathing beforehand. The old Jewish part looked over the Alhambra and was full of cobbled streets. It then guides you down to the bottom where you feel like you have stepped back in time to when the Moor’s ruled. The Arabic influence was huge, with henna artists everywhere you look, leather goods, shisha bars, beautiful Moroccan pieces ( we really aren’t that far from Northern Africa when you think about it) and lots of hummus! It has really inspired me to go to Morocco or explore more Muslim countries as I would love to find out about their culture that is still so hidden from our western ways.
View of the Alhambra
Between the parades and pretending to study, Julia and myself climbed las Ermitas which is a hiking trail up to an old monastery. The views were incredible as you looked down over Córdoba under the heat of the sun. I am such an outdoors person and it was one of my most treasures days here. We then went back to Julia’s for a swim and more sunbathing. We ate lunch with her family which was so lovely to be welcomed into a Spanish environment and relying on my skills to hold a conversation. My confidence has definitely improved as there is no way that myself a year ago could’ve sat there for an hour or two blabbing away en español. The food was all freshly prepared; gazpacho, grilled salmon and potatoes followed by strawberries for dessert. Meal times are respected, and everyone is expected to sit down and enjoy it all together which I find lovely. One thing I have learnt is that our lifestyle is too fast paced. We are constantly having our coffee to go, takeaway lunches or no time to cook or sit down with a glass of wine every evening. But those moments are meant to be enjoyed and time to spend with family and friends. When you start to think about it, wouldn’t you rather sit down for a 1,20€ coffee with a friend for an hour over a £3.20 Starbucks to cautiously sip as you run to work? We have no time for anything as we don’t make the time.
I also had the pleasure of having two of my dearest come out and stay with me to explore my beautiful home. Vicky and Sally both got to visit my local joints, try my absolute favourite dish salmorejo and enjoy cheap fresh wine in the sunshine. It was so refreshing having someone who reminds you of home to come out and experience this new life out here with you. It also was the perfect excuse to forget about work and skip class for a few days whilst discovering more of my city! We managed to stumble across a cute 2 table Dominican Republic café owned by a couple who made the worlds best empanadas, and it is now my favourite spot. Sally and I also travelled to Iznájar for the day, a small town next to a huge reservoir of water that is hidden below by miles and miles of hilly olive groves. We swam, and explored this strange, empty white-washed village we winded up to the top of the village where stood a church that had tremendous views down below.
High above, looking over Córdoba
That’s all from me at the moment, I best get back to enjoying Hotel California, the Spanish version by the Gypsy Kings ( go check it out!) But I’ll be making sure to document my last few experiences before home approaches!
View over Iznájar lake
La Tambora! Empanada dreams