Los Baños Árabes y La Mezquita
30.01.2013 - 31.01.2013 6 °C
This day deserves a post of its own.
We all scrambled onto the bus to Córdoba with our Bocadillos (basically a sack lunch - usually a meat and bread sandwich for me) in hand. Maria (one of the directors of our program) got on the intercom and said that it was about 2 hours to Córdoba. The drive was beautiful, we left the mountains splashed with the morning sun to discover rolling hills of olives as far as the eye could see. I drifted in and out of consciousness - the swaying of the bus being our own giant crib. The day was stunning in Córdoba, streaks of cotton decorated the starklingly blue sky and everyone promptly removed their jackets. The river was a shade of milk chocolate and flowed smoothly under the Romano style bridge. What has been so amazing to me is learning about styles of art and architecture, seeing a picture of an example, and then going to visit the place in person. It makes studying El Arco del Medio Punto (arch with of the middle point) so mch more relevant to me.
We had a little over two hours of free time to explore the city on our own with only the ability to get lost and hopefully find our way back with our map. We wandered aimlessly for awhile and finally found one of the museums Maria had recommended - Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. I eagerly climbed to the top of the tower and overlooked the impeccably groomed garden. Shrubs sculpted into tall blobs and even into the shape of an urn, they created a maze of beauty. I kept imagining the Queen of Hearts appearing to ask me to play croquet. Lauren whispered to me, "Can you even IMAGINE if this was your life? What do you think they talked about?" I cannot even begin to imagine living in that time period.
We met up with our group at 2:00pm, half of our program toured La Mezquita (Mosque) de Córdoba; which at the time of its constuction was the second largest in the world. The other half proceeded to Los Baños Árabes (bath houses). They are exactly what you might expect - similar to a spa but with three pools of different temperatures. As soon as I had changed into my swimsuit and walked into the main room, I was greeted and offered a massage. "¿Qué tipo de aceite tú prefieres?" (What type of oil would you like?) The only one I could recognize was Rosas - Roses, but it was not my number one concern. The main pool was the largest and of medium temperature. The room was cloaked in shadows and only lightly illuminated to add to the ambiance. You could enjoy what I think was peppermint and cinnamon teas. They were incredibly sweet like the very bottom of the cup with a tablespoon of sugar added, but left a refreshingly cool glow in your throat afterward. There was also a room with smelling salts; which was as someone described: like sitting in a cough drop. But there was a faint hint of B.O., and I did not stay too long. It was great to move from pool to pool, chatting with new friends and relaxing after finishing our first month of school. Even though I could soak in the pools all day, I was eager to see the Mezquita after learning about it in class.
It is amazing to me how much history can be in one building. It formally was a medieval Islamic mosque that was converted into a Catholic Christian cathedral. Most of the mosque is still there, but the symbolism of constructing a cathedral (in the shape of a cross) in the heart of an Islamic building is incredible. I honestly do not even know how to explain or describe everything, I attempted to capture the beauty through photographs, but it is impossible to encompass its power. The only other time I have felt that way about a building was in Rome at St. Peter's Basilica. I can just say that it was exactly what I wanted and I literally have my jaw hanging open through most of our tour.
As I sat on the bus while we returned to Granada I could only sit, listen, and reflect. I had an overwhelming feeling of being content and satisfied. Something that I have loved about Spain is actually having time to think. And I mean that in the way that I do not only have to worry about what my professors are going to grade me on, my job, or any other commitments that I usually have during school. I have the time to think and reflect about life, the time to blog, to read, to write. Córdoba was one of my favorite days so far, but I am looking forward to more to come.
Kind of randon but in the same mindset of reflection, I was thinking today about how forturnate I am and how most people are to have all 5 senses. Two men across the aisle from me on the bus were speaking in sign language. Traveling today I feel so lucky that I can see so well to read all of the signs where I need to go, that I can hear and speak with people - whether in a mix of Spanish or English - makes everything manageable. I am grateful that I can taste and smell all of these amazing and new types of food. I am just baffled everyday that this is my life. I woke up yesterday morning on the bus to the sunrise over the Mediterrean Sea in Málaga, and I am ready to enjoy more.