Month: May 2012

A walk amongst the trees- Córdoba

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Summer´s here, last Sunday was a perfect Sunday. After a hectic week at work a lazy Sunday was just what I was craving and, thanks to the glorious weather, it´s just what I got!

For months I´d been threatening to visit the Botanical Gardens. I figured, seeing as they´re located pretty much on my doorstep – well, if I´m honest they´re a twenty-minute walk but hey that´s still pretty close if you ask me! – it wouldn´t be all that difficult a task – how wrong was I? Almost every Friday I made a fairly non-committal plan to go to these much talked about gardens but, come Sunday morning, tiredness / laziness always outweighed my desire to go!

Not last Sunday though! I´m not sure what it was that motivated me to get my ass in gear and go. Maybe it was the fact I had been indoors all week or maybe it was simply because I knew that, if I kept putting it off, I would never end up going! Anyway, whatever got into me, I´m glad it did and I´m glad that I finally got there!

As I said in my previous post the gardens were not at all what I had expected – not in a bad way, they were enjoyable, just different from what I imagined. I don´t know what I had envisioned really. I think i had just presumed, given that the word garden is in the title, that i would find this large, cultivated garden filled with exotic species of flowers and plants. A bit naive of me really looking back at it! Especially seeing as I know full well that Botanical Gardens are primarily for educational and scientific use!

One of the best things about the Botanical Gardens is that they are well laid out which means you don´t waste any time trying to find your way around. When I think about it, it´s really just a long thoroughfare with a few squares, fountains and various themed gardens –  by themed I mean that each garden is organised by species – spread evenly along it. Located at the end of this thoroughfare is a garden which is devoted to various different trees and shrubs, a garden which is appropriately named ” Un paseo entre árboles” or A walk between the trees.

Parallel to this garden is a palaeobotanical museum which is home to some 15000 plant fossils. Unfortunately, due to our Sunday morning laziness, the museum was closed when we got there. However, outside of the museum there are several fossils on display to give you a little taster of what lies behind the closed doors. These fossils are so well-preserved that I can only imagine how good the ones inside the museum must be. Who knows maybe the next time I go I´ll get to venture inside and learn a bit about them!

Sunday morning seems to be one of the best days to visit the Gardens. On Sundays the Gardens host their weekly market. When I say market, I don´t mean your typical Spanish market consisting of handbags, fans and hats but rather a plant and food market. It consists of various stalls selling cultivated flowers,handmade soaps, crafts and wine – something a little different to embrace on your Sunday morning.

While there you can indulge in a typical Spanish breakfast, a toasted baguette with olive oil, tomato and cured ham with a glass of orange juice and some coffee, in their beautiful café located beside the rose gardens. No better way to refuel after a nice stroll around the gardens and the market.

It´s an ideal way to spend a Sunday in my opinion. As you roam from garden to garden you find yourself unwinding and little by little you start to feel as though you´re a million miles away from a city. If walking´s not your thing then grab a book, find a nice spot under the shade of one of their numerous trees, relax and forget about all your worries as the morning passes you by!

So; while the gardens weren´t what I expected, they were relaxing and just what I needed to unwind after my week! However, while I do like them and believe they have a lot to offer, they do not, well in my eyes anyway, compare with my favourite park Vista Alegre. In saying that, I´m delighted I´ve finally got to see the gardens and, without a doubt, will be back there again! Hopefully next time I´ll get to see the museum!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

Have you ever been to a Botanical Garden? What did you think of it?

Giana xoxo

Summer´s here but, sadly, so are the exams!! – My weekend-Córdoba.

I must say it´s been a crazy week for me. We´re in our busy season at work – exam season – ahhh! With the official exams starting in just a little over three weeks tensions are certainly at a high. Overnight our workload, which was already quite hectic, seems to have doubled; between the mock exams, which are going on at the moment, corrections and students –  only a handful, if only  they were all so good! –  doing extra work in their own time, it´s all been a little chaotic to say the least!

It´s funny, when you´re a student, you only focus on what you´re going through in the lead up to exams, you seem to remain oblivious to just how much it affects your teachers as well as you! At times, I feel as though I´m probably more nervous and concerned for most of my students that are sitting exams than they are for themselves! It´s strange, you get to know your students so well throughout your time with them that you cannot avoid feeling for them when it comes to this time of year! And, with Summer finally here – being in the high 30s and early 40s all week – it´s even harder than ever to get students motivated to study for their impending exams. I have to admit, studying for exams is the last thing I´d want to do in this weather, I´d much rather be outside frolicking in the sun, so can´t say I blame them for their lack of motivation!

Summer

The good news is: the weather is finally good and, what´s more, it´s here to stay! Waking up every morning to the sun shining on your face just makes such a difference to your day. However, I do find that it´s getting harder and harder to make myself go to work in the glorious weather. Every day, on my walk to school, I can´t help but envy all the people I walk past. People, who are sitting outside in the many cafés and bars along my route, soaking up the sun and relaxing. Especially, when I know that in a few minutes time, I´ll be indoors for the day, working and every now and then, when I get the chance, staring out at the beautiful sunshine right outside my window! Just as well I love my job or I don´t know if I could do it!

People in a Café

This weekend, due to the mock exams, we were working on Saturday .However, the minute I finished work, having already spent the first 6 days of summer indoors, I was determined to make the most of the rest of my weekend and spend it outside in the heat of the summer sun!

Thankfully, my plan was a success! Once I finished work, accompanied by two of my friends, I headed to a little restaurant with a beautiful outdoor seating area. Once there, I indulged in a delicious spinach and goats cheese pastry and several glasses of water, a poor attempt to quench my thirst in the heat! Once our stomachs were nicely satisfied we decided to buy some magazines – nothing better than some mindless reading after a tough day of work! –  an ice-cream and some drinks to take with us to one of the many charming parks Cordoba has to offer, in the hopes of finding a nice tree to relax under. Beautiful!

Later that evening, while walking home to get ready to meet up with our friends, we happened upon this marching band, dressed to the nines in their sailor like attire, slowly making their way down the street. They were closely followed by priests and people from religious orders carrying canvases and candles and, behind them, were school children in their uniforms holding candles, marching to the beat of the drums under the watchful eyes of their teachers! Fantastic – I have no idea what it was for, but, if I had to guess, going by the time of year and the fact that the children were involved, I would imagine the celebration had something to do with their communion.  Anyway, whatever the reason, it was it was a fantastic sight to stumble across! That has to be one of the things I love the most about Córdoba, it´s full of surprises, you never know what´s waiting for you behind each corner!

Once refreshed after our long day we made our way to the Corredera to see one of the May shows. Throughout the month of May; the Corredera hosts several flamenco events which celebrate this much-loved Spanish tradition! Once there, we sat outside for hours sipping on our cool drinks and soaking up the atmosphere. Unfortunately though, we didn´t get to witness any dancing. The show we ended up seeing was only a singing event. It was certainly a worthwhile experience but I couldn´t help but be disappointed; I really wanted to see some dancing! At roughly one o´clock, my bed started to call out to me; so I decided to call it a night and headed home.

After a good nights sleep I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to take on the sun! My friend and I, seeing as it was such a beautiful day, decided to head to the Botanical Gardens. We´d been threatening to go there for so long but had never got around to going, mainly due to the fact that they are located at the opposite side of the city to us. Sadly, due to the lazy mentality that comes hand in hand with Sundays, we didn´t arrive at the gardens untill quarter to two, arriving only to find out that the gardens close at three! We decided, after trekking all that way in the heat, that we may as well go in and see as much as we could and, that if we wanted, we could go back to see the rest another day! When we got the ticket office, we were greeted by this extremely friendly man who, after pointing out that the gardens closed at three, let us go into the gardens without paying the entrance fee!

While the gardens were beautiful they were not what I expected in the slightest! I had expected to find a huge manicured garden filled with exotic flowers, flowers that I had never seen before, when in fact, while it was huge and manicured, it mainly consisted of trees! However, to my delight, the tress were beautiful and there were several butterflies fluttering around the place to add to its beauty! I will write a post on the gardens during the week, if I get a chance that is, to share their wonder and beauty with all of you!

After that we decided to grab some food from the local deli and head to our favourite park, Vista Alegre, to sit under a tree and cool down while eating our rolls. What better way to spend a sunny day? It seemed as though we weren´t the only ones to think of this though as we were joined by a few families that were dotted around the place having picnics under the shade of the trees. After about two hours of basking in the sun, we were hot and decided, before heading home for a nap,  to go to our favourite frozen yoghurt shop to indulge in something refreshing and do some people watching while we were at it!

All in all, despite having to work on Saturday, it was a perfect weekend! I got to do what I love most, be outdoors in the sun, and explore a part of Córdoba I had never seen before! I hope you´ve had a great weekend!

Thank you for reading. I hope you´ve enjoyed it!

What´s your favourite way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon?

Giana xoxo

Los Patios – Enchanted Paradises!

In a recent blog, Fèni Café, I briefly mentioned Los Patios. Los Patios, a floral competition, is one of the biggest attractions in Córdoba during the month of May. For over one week, from the 2nd of May right up until the 13th, some of Córdobas proudest patio owners, fifty-eight to be precise, show off their meticulously cared for and well maintained patios. They open the doors to their precious patios and sit proudly admiring their hard work through the fresh eyes of awe-struck tourists, artists, critics and judges in the hope of being considered one of the best in the city!

As a novice to Los Patios I find the competition peculiar yet captivating! For me, the notion that you arrive up to someones house, someone you´ve never met, barge in, nosy around and take a few snaps while you´re there is more than just a little odd! I guess it´s just a cultural thing! Here, in Córdoba, the people are extremely friendly and open, so much so that letting groups of strangers roam through their precious patios does not feel the slightest bit invasive to them, in fact, they rather enjoy it!

So; with the peculiar part now covered, it´s time for the captivating part! As I explained earlier there are fifty-eight patios dotted around the city, these fifty-eight patios are divided into three distinctive walking routes – blue, red and green – based on locality and style. So far, unfortunately, I have only managed to complete one route and that is the blue route. Each patio on this route was colourful, artistic, charming and individual, it´s amazing to see how each style changes as you wander from patio to patio. Each one is filled with their own little personal touches which, from what i´ve seen, can be anything from wells, fountains, paintings, craft work and colourful furniture to guitars, wash basins and lighting effects. Breathtaking! While they´re all beautiful and unique in their own way, some, obviously, are better than others.

For me, my favourites where those which had a more homely yet artistic feel to them, the ones you know do it for the love of flowers and gardens rather than for the sake for entering the competition, the ones with a bit of character. Due to my love of trees – I don´t know anything about trees, nor do I claim to, I just love looking at and admiring them – my top three patios, on this route anyway, all contained trees, lemon tress to be exact! They were stunning with the biggest, juiciest lemons I have ever seen and, in each case, seemed to blend in so well with the rest of the carefully planned patio.

Sadly, I know nothing about flowers apart from the fact that their vibrant colours and utter beauty make me smile; so perhaps this competition might be a little wasted on me in that sense! However, flower expert or not, I enjoyed every minute of it. It´s so nice to see people dedicate their free time in such a creative way. It´s Spanish culture at it´s finest, a warm display of artistic talent in a friendly and welcoming environment, what more could you ask for really?

I really recommend this competition, the only snag is it runs on Spanish time which means the patios are closed from 2 until 6! So, if you´re planning on seeing all fifty-eight patios you´ll need more than one day to do it!

I´ll leave you now with a slideshow of photos, a lot of photos, from the blue route. I hope you´ve enjoyed reading about Los Patios and that you´ve had a lovely Sunday!

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Have you ever been to Los Patios?

As always, thank you for reading!

Giana xoxo

Córdoba: You´re Full of Surprises!

After nearly two weeks of very unsettled weather, mainly consisting of black skies, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, you can imagine my delight this morning when I awoke to find the sunshine dancing through the slits in my blind! My prayers have been answered, it´s summer at last! I scurried out of bed, showered and quickly selected a very colourful outfit in order to face the beautiful day!

I had just finished getting dressed when suddenly I heard the sound of a marching band which seemed to be coming from my street! How perfect I thought; first sunshine and now a celebration! Fantastic! I quickly dropped what I was doing and ran for my roof terrace to see what was going on! To my surprise there was a religious procession, yes another one, making it´s way down the street!

It was a similar idea to that of Semana Santa, as they were carrying an Anda, or Wooden platform, with what appeared to be a statue of the Virgin Mary, I was too late to see the front of the platform! However, this time, there where no Klu Klux Klan style marchers and the women were wearing wonderful white versions of the black veils they had donned at Easter. While I have no idea what religious event they were celebrating, really not feeling like the best Catholic in the world right now haha, but it was beautiful to watch them making their down the street to the beat of the drums in the first of the summer sun! What a way to both start the day and welcome the sun back to Córdoba!

I shall leave you now with some pictures of the procession, the view from my rooftop and my Spanish style colourful outfit, accessorised with a scarf of course! Hope enjoy them, and that you´re having a great Sunday! I´m off with one of my dear friends in the glorious sun now  to try and see as many patios as I can possibly fit in!

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Thank you for reading, let me know how your sunday has been!

Giana xoxo

Fèni Cafe – During “Los Patios” in Córdoba.

Feni café

So, as I have mentioned in a previous blog, Las Cruces, May is one of the best months to be in Córdoba. It´s a fun-filled, action packed month that celebrates everything typically Spanish, or Andalucían to be exact. This weekend saw the launch of yet another floral competition. However, unlike Las Cruces, Los Patios is a bit more personal. During Los Patios you visit people’s houses and view their spectacularly creative and colorful flower filled patios. Quite different, you could say, to Las Cruces where you happily roam the streets with a beer in your hand admiring cultivated crosses set in a bed of potted plants! Well, in any case, every year, for one week, a selection of proud patio owners, fifty-eight to be precise, open the doors of their quintessential houses and allow complete strangers to traipse through their beloved and well maintained gardens. It really is so Spanish!

Anyway, time to get to the point. I woke up bright and early this morning, all excited at the prospect of viewing these cultivated patios, only to open my blinds to the sight of black skies and torrential rain.  Honestly, I´m beginning to think the sun doesn´t like me very much, it never seems to come out when there´s an outdoor event I want to go to! Nonetheless, after briefly cursing the weather, I snapped out of my childlike sulk and decided to make the most of it, met up with my friend and her visitors – who unfortunately were leaving today- and attempted to view some patios.

Los Patios

Los Patios

Determined and high-spirited as we were, we braved the torrential rain – waterproofs, boots and umbrellas in tow. However, despite our best efforts, we failed miserably at our task, only managing to visit six out of the fifty-eight patios dotted around the city. However, I must admit, the patios that we were lucky enough to see were so amazing that it was worth getting wet for. Due to this, after our sixth patio, we were torn; we wanted to continue but, short on time and soaked to the bone, we accepted defeat and called it a day!

Los Patios

Los Patios

After a brief coffee stop to recover from the weather, my friend – her visitors having gone to the bus station at this stage – and I decided to get a spot of lunch. What better way to comfort yourself than to indulge in some delicious food?! We had being talking about visiting this new little café for ages, Café Fèni, and for some reason or other we never got around to it; so today seemed like the perfect day to try it!

Located in the center of Córdoba, on the left-hand side of Plaza Tendillas, is this trendy bar/ café. While Fèni Café is part of an old building, it´s interior is very modern, quite minimalistic yet quirky. The walls are a mixture of textures – exposed brick, mirror and glass – with huge picture frames filled with beer mats from around the world as the main focal point. The ceiling is also quite funky, two big long sheets of wavy chipboard covered with plywood set to a backdrop of plain white plaster. So original!

Now on to the food! While Andalucía is famed for its Tapas, sometimes, it can be quite difficult to find them here in Córdoba; so, as you can imagine, I was quite pleased when I saw them featured in this extensive menu! After a few moments of humming and hawing, I settled for a tapa of white bait in vinegar followed by an open toasted sandwich of salmorejo, beef and pesto – or green sauce as they call it here- and boy-o-boy was I happy with my decision when the food arrived!

Fèni Café

Tapas: White bait in vinegar and Salmorejo

The tapa of white bait, served on a bed of tomato purée and pesto, was delicious and surprisingly big for its small price of €2! Next, the main course, and all I can say is yum! A long, flat piece of bread topped with a thicker than usual salmorejo – a creamy tomato based cold soup mixed with garlic and thickened with breadcrumbs – succulent beef and pesto. An unusual but delectable combination of fillers for a sandwich, I think I may have a new addiction on my hands!

Open sandwich

Open Sandwich

Open sandwich topped with salmorejo, beef and pesto! Yum!

With our bellies full and our clothes finally dried out we dreaded the thought of facing the rain yet again; so we decided to prolong our stay in this stylish café and ordered two infusions! I do love my infusions, especially Rooibos, the smell is so good that it´s nearly a shame to drink it – nearly!

Infusion

Roobios tea, a nice way to finish the meal!

All in all, while it didn´t turn out to be the day I had planned or expected it to be, it was certainly an enjoyable one! And, who knows, maybe tomorrow will be a better day, I might even get to see the patios in their true glory! The patios are open all week but, because I´m working, I won´t have the time to go visit them. However, I´m sure I will get to see them before the 13th! And, if I do, I´ll make sure to share the experience with all of you! 🙂

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

Please let me know if you´ve been to Los Patios before! I´d love to hear about your experience!

Giana xoxo

While all the photos above are my own, the two of me, obviously enough, weren´t taken by me! Their credit goes to my dear friend, and talented blogger Carly! Just click on her name to check out her amazing blog filled with breathtaking photos!

Callejon de Arquillos- Arquillos Alley

In keeping with the tone my last blog, which happened to be on one of my favourite little lanes in Córdoba, I´ve decided to disclose yet another fascinating lane, or should I say, alley – Callejon de Arquillos.

Calle Cabezas

To the right of this quintessential little street, Calle Cabezas, lies the charming Calleja de Arquillos.

I must admit this little beauty is well off the beaten track. I had been in Córdoba almost 7 months before I discovered it and, even then, I didn´t stumble across it on my own! One of my friends, having accidently happened upon it on a get fit mission, was kind enough to share this little gem with me; so if you´re reading this, thank you!

When I saw this alley, admittedly, I was overcome by a mixture of feelings. Apart from being blown away by its simplistic beauty and the way in which the morning light seemed to playfully bounce from wall to wall highlighting each little crevice on its journey, I was intrigued by the history that was locked away behind the big iron gates. Iron gates which, not only serve to keep curious people like me from passing through this ancient alley, but also, add to its mystery, character and charm. After this, the only emotion I had left to feel, while it may sound a little odd, was irritation. I found I was annoyed at myself for not having a camera with me, I tend to be a bit on the snap happy side of life, to capture the moment in the glorious morning sunlight!

However, after a brief moment of cursing myself, I got myself together and came home filled with an immense desire to uncover the deep dark secret that is being kept under lock and key. Sadly, it proved to be a difficult quest, the only bit of information I found was about the legend of Arquillos Alley. This legend says that the Caliph, a Muslim religious ruler, executed his seven sons and hung their heads in this alley for everyone to see. While this tale does add an eerie element to the alley, it does nothing to satisfy my need for information!Nonetheless, I´m captivated by this alley and, who knows, perhaps it´s the fact that I know relatively little about it that adds to its charm, for without mystery life would be dull!

Anyway, having walked past this alley several times since then, and honestly falling more and more in love with it each time, I have managed to capture it on my camera. Sadly, my photos fail to capture the fine detail of the walls, the gaiety of the sunlight and the sense of mystery so integral to this Alley. However, I do believe that they do manage to capture some of this alleys beauty, and will allow you to see what its allure is!

Calleja de Arquillos

Calle de ArquillosCalle de ArquillosCalle de Arquillos

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog; what do you think of the alley?

Thank you for reading!

If anyone does happen to know anything about Calle de Arquillos please let me know!

Giana xoxo

Calle del Pañuelo- Neckerchief Lane.

Calle del Pañuelo

I will readily admit that, at times I become so spellbound by the little hidden beauties Córdoba has to offer, I often find myself feeling like a tourist in my own city! It´s main allure, well for me anyway, is that you can completely lose yourself in its labyrinth of narrow streets which are suffused with the sweet smell of oranges and, especially at this time of year, the distinctive aroma of flowers. These maze-like streets are framed by ever so charming time-worn buildings which, I´m sure, if their walls could talk would have a lot of tales to tell! You could honestly spend hours, believe me I have, wandering through these quaint little streets soaking up the history that continues to unfold with each new turn you take. It honestly is magical.

Yesterday, seeing as the sun decided to bless us with a much awaited appearance, I ended up going on one of these mindless wanders. I say ended up as I started out, as I mentioned in my pervious blog, with an aim to take photos of the cruces. Obviously it was an aim that I wound up achieving but that´s not the point! The point is, on this wander, I became inspired to write about the little nooks and crannies I have been lucky enough to discover by living here. Nooks and crannies which, sadly, often go unnoticed by those who visit Córdoba. So I have decided to dedicate a section of my blog to these hidden beauties, I think I shall name it – Uncovering Beauty – quiet a fitting title if I do say so myself!

I am going to start my section with one of the most intriguing, and perhaps my favourite, little lane that Córdoba has to offer – Calle del Pañuelo, or neckerchief lane. Calle Pañuelo, a Moorish style lane, is located in the heart of the Jewish quarter, just beside la plaza de la Concha, It is an endearing little lane which, as the name suggests, is about the width of a neckerchief, 75cm. At the end of this whimsical little lane lies a tiny plaza, 15 meters squared to be exact, which is considered to be one of the smallest plazas in the world. The distinct smell of oranges and the soothing sound of the water from the miniature fountain add a certain charm to this quirky plaza. To add to its quirkiness, the plaza has no exit. The only way out of this delightful plaza is to retrace your footsteps and return by the very path you entered with!

I´m not quite sure if there is an actual history to this plaza or not, but, with graffiti covering the walls and doorways of the plaza and writing etched into the trunk of the orange trees, it´s safe to say, it´s certainly got some tales to tell. In my eyes this plaza has an untold amount of character and personality and I´m so glad to have stumbled upon it on one of my countless wanders through the city!

I hope you enjoyed reading about this little hidden treasure, are you as intrigued by it as I am?!

Giana xoxo