Cordoba, A Real Local Feel of Spain


So Cordoba is a really small town, or at least I felt that way when I was there for two days. It’s a local experience and if you want to feel like you live in Spain, I would imagine that this place fits the bill. The charm of the town is in the people, the local shops, the local foods, and the old buildings that have so much history. I stayed in Old Town, so I really don’t know what it is like to travel outside in the other parts of Cordoba, so my view is very biased. I imagine that there are beautiful villas in the countryside with olive & pomegranate trees and even vineyards. I hope to go back to Cordoba with a rental car in the future.

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I stopped at a local  bakery really close to La Mezquita and close to my hotel. As soon as I entered and sat down at the bar stool, everyone stared at me. I purchased a bocadillo with ham for 5 euros. The ham was a little tough, but I was happy to feel like a local for at least 20 minutes. I saw the owners talk to each person as they came in. I just wish I could pick up on some of the conversations. I picked up a few words about the weather, but that was about it. Although I love traveling alone, there are those moments, when you feel alone and Cordoba made me feel that way. Because everyone seemed to know each other in town and especially around the shops close to La Mezquita, I started to wish I had friends or family with me.

I think my loneliness started to set in when I realized that siesta does occur in Cordoba and things don’t open up till 12:30 pm. From what I gathered, shops opened up around 5:00 PM as well. I still till this very day, don’t know the actual times when stores opened up when I was in Cordoba for two days. The siesta made me lazy and I didn’t feel like doing much at all. I was however interested in taking photos wherever I could. I packed my camera bag and wandered and literally got lost in the side alleyways and corridors and cobblestone roads in the mystic old town areas.  I had heard that Cordoba had beautiful patios, so I thought I would go and see what I could find. I found a lot of cool things to photograph in the La Juderia (Jewish Quarters). The buildings were close together practically hugging each other and on each corner there was something mysterious or fun to photograph.

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As I got more into the siesta mode, I just liked the quiet and calm of staying in Old Town. Once La Mezquita closes down, the area that surrounds La Mezquita gets REALLY QUIET. So for some of you that like more night life, I would recommend that you stay around Plaza Del Colon. For those of you that love to shop and people watch, you can do that around Plaza Del Colon as well. I sat down at a cafe and had a cup of coffee, a pastry and then even a tinto de verano. I sat at that cafe for at least 3 hours. I watched people smoke cigarettes, feed little scraps of food to their dogs. I watched little kids kick a soccer ball back and forth. I just sat and journaled and enjoyed EVERY MOMENT OF IT!

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It’s so refreshing to see the relaxed nature of everyone in this town. The easy going flow of this town allowed for me to decompress, to think about my present and my future.

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Walk…..just walk and be. You’ll find all kinds of cool things to experience. I loved walking into small shops that specialized in breads, meats and candies. I remember walking into a cute little candy shop that made marzipan and chocolate. A mom was letting her little child pick out the cute little fruit shaped marzipan candies. The smile on this kid’s face was priceless.

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There are so many other things to say about this town, but go and experience it for yourself!

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Snapshots of Spain


Spain is a country full of vibrant colors. It’s a photographer’s paradise. Lots of old buildings in a grid pattern that make snapping photos fun! There is a lot to take from whether or not you are into food, architecture, little details, museums, art, people, helado, coffee, shopping and I can keep going. You get the point. Let me let the pictures speak for themselves. VALE!

Of course I was captivated by the bull. This was taken in Sevilla, Spain on a hot night. The colors and lighting remind me of the humidity and summer that makes Sevilla memorable. I had come from Casa De La Memoria where I watched serious Flamenco dancers stomp their hearts out. The dance was so powerful and so intimate that everyone felt like they had a “hot and heavy” moment in Spain. Something about the Sevilla summer that is romantic and sensual.

It’s lunch time in Spain, what to do? MENU DEL DIA! One of the biggest meals of the day. A Menu Del Dia is great because it usually includes an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. Helado topped off with a chocolate sauce is not a bad choice. We all scream for ice cream. You take your time on your meal, sit, talk, relax and “be”. This is what I love about Spain!

Did you know that Salvador Dali made jewelry? One of my friends had told me to make sure that I went down to the jewelry gallery of Dali’s after I toured the museum in Figueres, Spain. The regular Dali museum was a madhouse  where people looked like they were going to kill each other. I know secretly, Dali was somewhere laughing at all of us. It was nice seeing the jewelry where there were less people and it was dark. This eye reminded me of his famous works. The turquoise color and the shining jewelry made this piece visually stunning (no pun intended).

Dali, what more do I say?

While you are pish poshing around Madrid, make sure that you go and check out Mercato de San Miguel. It’s definitely a trendy food market that boasts tapas, sangria, desserts, produce and some other eclectic finger foods. You’ll see people sitting down at bar stools sipping wine, laughing and engaging in great conversation. The only bummer thing for me was not having people with me to enjoy this. I was solo on this part, but still enjoyed snapping photos and eating great food.

Pan por favor. The Spaniards take pride in their carbs and eat it proudly. As a tourist it is important to know that once the bread hits the table, if you do not say “no gracias”, then you will be charged for your bread. I learned that mistake in Granada. The girl was nice to explain this to me and then when I came the next day, I said right away “no gracias”. We both started laughing! However, I am glad that I tried the local bread out. Before I snapped this photo, the bread was inside a waxed paper bag that advertised the local bakery in Granada. I value and appreciate each that each restaurant and local businesses support each other. This truly extends a helping hand out to the local economy. You can see a generous helping here of a aioli type sauce and olive oil.

I saved the best for last. This is a picture of my absolute favorite jamon iberico and pan con tomate y aceite de olivos from Sagarra in Barcelona, Spain. My friend and I went to a local bookstore and asked the local for a great place to have a snack. He recommended Sagarra. I literally went there at least 3 or 4 times for my jamon iberico addiction. I have great memories of people watching here and great conversation with my friend. SPAIN, I LOVE YOU!

LIST OF PLACES THAT WERE MENTIONED:

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: Madrid, Spain


June 30th, 2011

I woke up at 7:00 A.M. to get ready for my big day. At 7:55 A.M. I was seated at the breakfast table at my bed and breakfast (Abracadabra B&B) and I was the only one up. Norma, the owner of the B&B greeted me in Spanish. I had frosted flakes, mango yogurt, LOTS OF BREAD (sweet breads), a sandwich which was bread with cheese melted panini style, hot tea, toast and strawberry jam. Talking about bread was an understatement, it was EVERYWHERE! I was getting so full of carbs, I felt like I was filling up like a balloon. I didn’t want to be rude, so I did my best to EAT EVERYTHING! I wrote on the napking “Gracias”. I ran into Norma before going to my room and told her that I cannot eat that much bread. I got my camera ready, dressed comfy for the day and got read to go to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza close to the Prado Museum. It’s probably about a 20-30 minute walk from where I was. The museum cost 8 euros (about $10.50 U.S. dollars)  & they give no teacher discounts. They did tell me that the Reina Sofia and the Prado were free for teachers! Boo ya!

A Beautiful Walk on the way to the Thyssen and Prado

I got a headset for 4 euros. I read in Rick Steves that it was worth getting. NO PICTURES ALLOWED! Disclaimer: Please Please Please….when going to a museum, follow the rules! These pictures and art pieces need to be there in the future by us taking good care of things and listening to rules. I can’t stand going to a museum and seeing people taking flash photos of works. Flash ruins paintings and over time it will damage the picture! You can buy a postcard, so DON’T DO IT!

The Entrance of the Thyssen had a captivating statue of a baby’s head

As you walk in there was a huge white structure of a woman head and shoulders to the bellybutton. There was a picture of the King and Queen of Spain. Also there was a picture of the duchess who was responsible for the collection of art for the Thyssen.

IRONY: As you walk through the museum I ran into a couple paintings where I just had to laugh. I saw a painting of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon posed right next to each other. The Henry VIII was painted by Hans Hobein. Seeing the Catherine painting as a young child next to Henry seemed strange. If you know the history of the two, it wasn’t pretty. Catherine was very obedient and tried to keep the marriage, but Henry VIII made a huge situation of their marriage and tried to divorce her. The Catholic Church would not allow for their divorce and it eventually ended in a annulment. The Protestant Reformation was also in play.

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I was also ecstatic to see a Jan Van Eyck Diptych “The Annunciation” that looked super REAL! It was a quattro centro style (have to research that more) Also saw a famous piece called “Giovanna Tornabuoni” that captures serenity, perfection & royalty. In this painting it was suggested that she was pregnant. Apparently during this time (Renaissance), it was fashionable to look pregnant. It was trendy to look like your were carrying child. It was symbolic of Mary and Jesus (Immaculate Conception) This painting caught my attention because the young man STARES AT YOU. This piece was painted by Raphael.

One particular painting is known in the art world to be an enigma. The title of the painting is the “Young Knight in a Landscape” Within the painting there is a lot of busy activity going on. There were lots of animals that were most likely symbolic of many things. There is a ferret that symbolizes purity. The deer symbolizes bravery or strength.
If you like Baroque art and like dramatic pieces, Caravaggio is a force to reckon with. I was happy to see Caravaggio’s St. Katherine of Alexandria. It was interesting for me to see a Caravaggio that did not represent any violence. She is staring at you with a calm look. You can tell that she is a saint by the faint halo above her head.
St. Katherine of Alexandria painted by Caravaggio
 Rembrandt’s Self Portrait
According to the headset, the painting above is dark and black because his career started to go down hill
My feet started getting achy at this point, but I walked through Van Gogh’s, Manet’, Degas’ and many other famous impressionists. I felt bad because I couldn’t do any more standing. Jet lag had set in.
TIPS: Allow yourself at least 3-5 hours to tour the museum if you ENJOY looking at art and know a lot about the history. There are benches within the museum and you can rest and look at the art. But if you are just going for the sake of “going” and don’t know too much about the art allow 1-2 1/2 hours. I recommend that you go to the  Museo Thyssen website  There are also private tours or group tours that are available. A gorgeous museum with an amazing collection!
Works Cited:
  1. “Britannica Mobile Edition.” Britannica Mobile. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://m.eb.com/assembly/119984&gt;.
  2. Catherine of Aragon Infanta. Digital image. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f6/An_Infanta_(Catherine_of_Aragon%3F)_by_Juan_de_Flandes.jpg/683px-An_Infanta_(Catherine_of_Aragon%3F)_by_Juan_de_Flandes.jpg&gt;.
  3. Entrance to the Thyssen Bornemisza. Digital image. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <Entrance to the Thyssen Bornemisza>
  4. Freemysoul. “Madrid – Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 06 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/fms-sabine/6057163366/&gt;.
  5. “GigaPans.” GigaPan. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://gigapan.com/gigapans?tags=eyck&gt;.
  6. Henry VIII. Digital image. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://media.web.britannica.com/eb-media/76/114976-004-01EB7D47.jpg&gt;.
  7. Jan Van Eyck Annunciation Thyssen. Digital image. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://static.gigapan.org/gigapans0/37651/images/37651-475×360.jpg&gt;.
  8. “Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Inicio.” El Museo De Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/informacion_de_interes&gt;.
  9. “Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Inicio.” Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/ficha_obra/365&gt;.
  10. St. Katherine of Alexandria. Digital image. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.museothyssen.org/img/obras_mediana/1934.37.jpg&gt;.