Dear Strangers, Faithful Readers, and Everyone in Between,
Hello! I hope wherever life has taken you over this past week that you are in a better place than where you were. If you are curious, which I think you are since you’re reading this blog, life for me continues to go swell! I am enjoying myself thoroughly here in Seville…I don’t think that will ever change… and I had a wonderful week!
What did I do last week?
- Reviewed grammar in class and took my first test. I think I did pretty well but I am not 100% certain because I am waiting patiently for the results.
- Wrote my first, of many, papers in Spanish.
- Ate lunch every day basking in the sun in a park on the river.
- Watched a lot of Spanish tv and a Spanish movie… Subtitles would have been nice… They talk so fast… Hence I didn’t understand a lot…
- Went to a discoteca (dance) and met more students.
- Took a tour of my neighborhood.
- Practiced Spanish.
- Lastly, and most excitingly, took a weekend trip to Cordoba.
What is Cordoba?
Cordoba is a neighboring town that is two hours away from Seville by bus, and on Saturday morning CIEE, my study abroad program, planned a day trip there for us students…except for me it turned out to be a weekend adventure!
The Standard Student Trip Itinerary
- Visited a cathedral that was converted from Islam to Christianity, called the Mezquita. The church itself in some parts is over 1000 years old, and it is unlike any other cathedral in Spain. It’s a very impressive and beautiful piece of architecture.
- Entered and walked around a royal palace/garden where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel lived.
- Took a walking tour led by a very informative tour guide.
- Had two hours of free time to explore and eat lunch.
- Afterwards returned back to Seville. However, as I said, my trip was extended.
The Extended Adventure
My friend Gregg from Massachusetts missed the school bus that left at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and took another one on his own to Cordoba to catch up to our group. However, when our group was going to return he had only been there for two hours. As a result, he didn’t want to leave and was asking if anyone wanted to stay with him in the city for the night. Seeing that I probably would never return to Cordoba and I didn’t have any pressing reason to return to Seville I decided to stay.
While Gregg visited the places I had seen earlier in the day I explored the rest of town, went to a catholic mass, and stumbled upon a giant medieval festival that only occurs once a year in Cordoba! The streets and plaza’s were so full of people that I couldn’t even move! Everyone was dressed up in costumes. The vendors sold old fashion crafts and trinkets. There were all sorts of meats (such as ribs, ham, and octopus) grilled outside next to sweet smelling pastries. Jesters were juggling fire, walking on giant balls and stilts. Men were playing the bag pipes and there were parades of trumpets, drummers, dancers, and more! Who woulda guessed the night we happened to stay would be the night of such a giant festival!?
Since our minds were blown by everything that was going on we spent quite a bit of time investigating and enjoying the festivities. We ate like kings, met a family from Chile, and absorbed our surroundings. The only problem that was created from this serendipity was that ALL the hostals we tried to stay in were COMPLETELY full. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg to stay in a hotel and after brainstorming our plan B/C turned into either sleeping in the mountains or taking a bus home. Neither sounded reasonable considering at this point it was already 11:00 p.m. so we went back to the drawing board. In the midst of the decision making while standing under a street lamp trying to find our bearings on a giant street map we heard a “Hola” from a girl standing on the third story balcony of an apartment building…. What? Was she talking to us?
Yes, indeed she was! After a long conversation with her about what we could do Gregg ended up asking her what she was doing and if she wanted to get something to eat. Being a local and knowing it was the weekend before exams she knew not a lot would be open so instead she invited us into her apartment. Going in I was a little skeptical/nervous seeing as I had no clue who she was or who else was up there but it ended up being a riot! They made us a feast of food and the entire night I was able to practice my Spanish and learn more about their culture and language.
As the night progressed we realized we needed to leave to find a hotel. We appreciated their hospitality but we weren’t going to ask to stay. So we said we were going to leave and thanked them for everything. When we tried to leave though they insisted that we should stay at their apartment for the night. They had an extra bed and they assured us it would be safer, more comfortable, and a better idea than trying to find a hotel at 1:45 a.m. in the morning. So… we stayed!
The next morning we woke up at noon, ate breakfast, said our thanks and goodbyes for real, and left. We thought we were going to depart back to Seville early in the afternoon, but when we arrived to the bus station we found out we had over an hour and a half wait till the next bus left. We didn’t feel like waiting in the bus station so we decided to see how far a walk it actually was to the mountains if we would have gone the night before.
It only took us 45 minutes to walk to the base of the mountain, and when we got there we realized it would be a ton of fun to climb it! There was a small chapel that was barely visible at the top of it that perked my curiosity and I was torn by the issue! I couldn’t make up my mind because I had a few things to attend to in Seville and after five minutes going back and forth I decided we should just leave it up to chance – a Flip of a Coin. Best 2 out of 3 wins. Heads we climb. Tails we go home. Flip one, Heads. Flip Two, Heads. Hence, Up the mountain we went!
One thing you must know though, is that when I saw mountain, it isn’t like the Rocky Mountains where there is snow on the peaks. The one we climbed was only a couple thousand feet tall, but none the less for the region it was quite big and overall it was a blast. The view from the top was absolutely astounding and it was worth the sweat, time and extra euros to switch our bus tickets.
After making it to the top and investigating the small chapel that grabbed my attention we sprinted back to the bus station to make the following departure. We felt like Legolas and Aragorn running through the hills on Lord of the Rings on the descent down the mountain, and after a hour of running we caught the bus right before it was about to leave. We couldn’t believe we made it back so quickly because we were weary from the fact that the only food we ate on Sunday to that point was a small breakfast and we didn’t bring any water with us on the hike.
On the two hour bus ride home to Seville we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset and reflected on what just happened. Both of us decided we will probably forever remain in disbelief of how fun, random, and fortunate our weekend turned out.
Anyways… Another week of school and activities lies ahead of me. I will try to post more frequently so we you don’t have one MASSIVE blog to read again. Here are a few pictures. I hope you enjoyed my story!