Mad Dash through Southern Spain

Our hostel’s rooftop bar where we spent most of our time in Madrid.

I flew to Madrid to meet up with my Spain and Portugal travel buddy. We did not spend much time in Madrid, mostly I got incredibly lost in the airport, found dinner, and drank sangria at out hostel bar where I met another person who was trying to invent new mixed drinks and studied Anthropology and we talked into the early morning hours.

A park statue in Córdoba that we walked past a few times.

Taking the 6:20am train to Córdoba, we stored our bags at the train station and immediately went to find our walking tour. There was a rough start to the tour as our guide thought there were no english speakers that day and went home. The tour agency had to then find another group for us to join and we had to keep explaining that we already paid online with the other tour.

Once it got started, we went through the Alcazar, Jewish Quarter, and Mosque-Cathedral. Southern Spain is one of favorite places I’ve been to where you can see the blending of cultures throughout time. Córdoba was once a Moorish city as seen through the massive Mosque and plentiful public drinking fountains. However, once you enter the Mosque, you see how once christianity took over the area, chapels and a cathedral were built into the existing Mosque, creating this blend of Muslim and Christian architecture.

The Alcazar gardens in Córdoba. Our guide mentioned that the crane has been ruining many photos this year.
Calleja de las Flores in Córdoba, I would have loved to get more photos of this alley, but we were still on the tour and many people were around trying to take photos so I didn’t have time to wait for the best shot.
Inside the Mosque-Cathedral you can see hundreds lof the original Moorish paintings archways and columns recycled from older building sites.

After our tour, we explored on our own until we were able to check into our airbnb. Later, we had to circle back to the same areas with our bags, taking frequent breaks due to the scorching heat. Once we checked in, we discovered a washing machine and ran a load of laundry and I fell into a deep nap until dinner. We did plenty of walking around the same areas in Córdoba as most things were much closer than we expected, eventually finding dinner in Plaza de la Corredera where live music was playing and tapas were on sale.

In Córdoba we stayed in the area where the Córdoba May Patio Festival happens. Though the festival was long over when we visited, you can walk around and see some of the patios that are being maintained.
Córdoba at sunset.
We ate dinner in Plaza de la Corredera where a small guitar festival was happening, so we ate tapas and listened to live music.

The main theme for my travels with my travel buddy Kate was food. It felt like all we were always eating something as we stared up at beautiful buildings (no complaints here!). I loved being able to try multiple dishes through ordering tapas. We often left dinner having eaten way too much, but walking typically helped us make room for more food later.

The Mosque-Cathedral at night.

Leaving Córdoba on another early train (though a little later than the last), we went to Sevilla. After getting a little turned around (there are two hostels that start with Oasis Backpackers..), we made it to our hostel and had a little time to relax before check-in/walking tours.

I was so exhausted I forgot that I booked the same tour as Kate, so we both panicked when we only saw one ticket in her email. I didn’t even think of checking my own email after running on limited sleep for 2 days. So, I booked another tour and found out later I was supposed to be on her tour. That was a waste of money, but it happens. They usually don’t give refunds for “I was so tired that I forgot I booked this.” All I can say is my brain was not working properly that day, but I still had fun on my separate walking tour seeing the Seville Cathedral, Alcázar, and La Giralda.

Sevilla Cathedral and La Giralda from the courtyard.

Once I returned from my later tour, we relaxed by the rooftop pool until we had to get under cover from the rain. Under the tarps, we overheard a group of friends managing to convince an obnoxiously drunk guy that they were a professional rugby team staying in a hostel to maintain a low profile. That guy eventually left and we ended up chatting with the group and hanging out with them for the rest of the night.

View of the cathedral from the La Giralda. Inside the La Giralda, you have to climb 34 floors of ramps that are left from when a Moorish king would ride a donkey up to the top to pray 5 times a day.
My favorite spot in the Alcázar gardens.
View from the wall partially surrounding some of the Alcázar gardens.
One if the many fountains dotting the gardens of the Alcázar.

Once we joined their group, we all signed up for the pub crawl. Though Kate and I had little food that day and a 9am bus to Portugal the next morning, it took little to convince us to go out. We were given a mojito and unlimited sangria until we left and some free drinks in the clubs as well. If you’re looking for a good way to try the night life in an area, try attending a hostel pub crawl. Many hostels I’ve stayed in offer them and they’re typically cheap and will allow you to get a good sample of what the night life is like around your hostel.

We danced through the streets of Sevilla going bar to bar and ending up in an outdoor club. I eventually crawled into bed around 5am, needing to be up at 7:30am to get ready for the bus to Portugal. I’m glad that we decided to go out that night even if I was exhausted the next day. I love meeting new people at hostels and having easy conversations. I am usually more of a quiet person with new groups, but luckily my travel buddy was more outgoing with strangers and it led to a really fun night.

This part of my trip was definitely a mad dash of late nights enjoying new company and early mornings onto the next location. I left Córdoba and Sevilla wishing I had more time, but that just means I’ll need to visit again one day when there are less time restraints.

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