Day 21 (18/Oct/2017): Exploring Córdoba


How does one make the most of a day in this most magical city, Córdoba? First, by not repeating the errors of previous visits. So no stewing in adolescent awkwardness in the sweaty back seat of the camping car while Dad takes leave to experience the Mezquita. And no dutifully crossing off items from a checklist prescribed by Sekkai No Arukikata guidebooks – always bewildered at the number of Japanese tourists at every stop. I want to soak up this city – like the patatas fritas that are swelling up and softening with the fatty juices from the oxtail on my plate this evening.
But you don’t come to Córdoba and skip the mezquita – even if you’ve been there and bought the t-shirt. So I made the mezquita my first stop. Mezquita sous pluie. Beautiful. It almost seems redundant to photograph such a well observed and documented space. What can I capture with my phone that hasn’t been catalogued by more talented photographers with more time and better equipment? Perhaps the exercise of looking for the details that make this special to me is reason enough to justify planting my phone in front of other tourists in an effort to capture the essence of this object; a white and gold wedding cake of a cathedral, built into the red velvet of what was once the second most important mosque in Islam. The focus on details – patterns in the ceiling, angles that highlight the juxtaposition of the two faiths. My early morning visit also affords me a view of the Mezquita’s Zamboni – It’s a little known fact that the priests play ice hockey here before matins.
For the rest of the day, I follow my heart, do my errands, and accept the recommendations of others who know and love the city better than I do.
I visited the caliphate baths, sent my fancy spectacles home from the post office (much friendlier this time), had lunch at a cheap (no, cheap!!) eatery that was recommended by Michel Cerdan (5 euro for three courses & bread & wine with table service), bought a new piece of orthopaedic kit to replace the compression sleeves that I left behind in Baena, walked through a park, discovered a modern amphitheater with a view, “enjoyed” a mediocre and overpriced spa experience in the modern “Hammam al Andalus,” took a taxi to the attractive Levante suburbs to shop for a new sock solution at the helpful “Explorasur,” store, walked back via the Parish of Santiago and collected a stamp in my pilgrim’s passport, saw the remains of the Roman temple, and ended up at the “Casa El Pisto,” oxtail joint, as recommended by Jose A Rodriguez. (It’s great). Today was partly about value for money – expensive spas that don’t listen as much as they should, and inexpensive or moderate shops that deeply understand their customers and respond with what it takes.
Did I achieve everything that I set out to? No. Through a misunderstanding, I missed the chance to meet Ricardo, a friend of Michel Cerdan. But I feel, at least and at last, that I met Córdoba my way.

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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