Uncovering Beauty

Come walk with me: Córdoba

So as you may know, if you are a regular reader of my blog, I have been living in Cordoba for over a year now. It seems crazy to me that it´s been that long already. To me it feels like it was only yesterday that I stepped out of my parents car into the enchanting furnace that I now call home! I say furnace as last friday the weather dials that are dotted around the city recorded a high of 55ºC, how much faith I have in those dials I cannot say but I can tell you this; it felt like I was cooking as I ventured out to my local shop for supplies! No wonder my furry visitor decided to pop by, my lovely air-conditioned apartment would be a dream to any creature in this heat!

Anyway, the point of this blog – sorry my ramblings always seem to get in the way, what can I say? I love to ramble – is to show you some of the sights I walk past on a daily basis, basically to take you on a walk through the city with me! I had planned to do this in June as a way of celebrating my one year anniversary here but, as you know from my previous posts, life got in the way! So I´ve decided that today, being a holiday, is a perfect day to go for a walk around my city with you. So put on your most comfortable walking shoes, grab some water and let´s go!

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I hope that through this slideshow you can get a feel for the incredible city I live in. Obviously I have left out lots of beautiful streets and places, if I included everything then what would I have to write about in the future?

Anyway, enough procrastination, time to make myself a cup of tea and tackle the big pile of corrections that is staring at me ever so daringly from my kitchen table!

Hope you´re having a great day wherever you are!

As always, thank you for reading, until the next time…

Giana xoxo

Summer Time at the Port!

It´s been a long time since my last post, I did try to do one sooner, but with the wrapping up of the last academic term, saying goodbye to the teachers and the commencement of a new intensive summer course; there hasn´t been a single dull moment since my last post nearly three weeks ago!

However, with things back to normal, I will be back on form with my usual two posts a week! Right, enough procrastination, time to tell you about my trip to Puerto De Santa María!

Holiday time!

By the time Friday rolled around, after what can only be described as a hectic few weeks, it was time to down tools for the weekend, escape from the intense Córdoban heat, 48 degree temperatures on a daily basis, and breath in some much-needed fresh air! My friend and I, who for the purpose of this post shall be named Pocahontas, excitedly embarked on a weekend long camping adventure, where you might ask; none other than the picturesque Puerto De Santa María or Playa de la Puntilla to be exact!

Playa de la Puntilla is a quaint little secluded beach, completely unspoilt by tourism and high-rise buildings, which is located in the province of Cadiz. It was my first trip to Cadiz, famed for it´s sunshine and beautiful beaches, and I have to say I was overwhelmed by its ruggedness. It was nothing like I had experienced before.

Playa de la Puntilla

Ever since I was a little girl I´ve loved the experience of going to the beach. When I was a child I was lucky enough to spent every summer in Ballybunion, a little seaside town in Kerry, Ireland. There has always been something about the sea breeze, the sound of the waves and the smell of seaweed that has had a relaxing effect on me. Ok there is a point to all this I promise, stay with me, I´m getting to it!

For me, even though I´ve been to countless numbers of beaches in my life, nothing has ever compared to Ballybunion! For those of you who know Ballybunion you probably think I´ve lost my mind but it has just always held a special place in my heart. I have so many good memories there and I just love how it has never changed, remained untouched by time, how the beach seems like it´s never going to end and how the waves crash off the cliffs as the tide comes in, amazing!

I wanted to show you an image of Ballybunion but I don´t have one, they are in Ireland. So I took this image from google. If you click on the photo it will bring you directly to the page I took it from! 🙂

Nothing until now that is! The moment I stepped foot on Playa de la Puntilla I was in love! Like Ballybunnion, the town is nothing special, pretty much like any other beach resort to be honest but the beach; the beach is something out of this world! Unlike every other beach I´ve been to in Spain this one has remained completely natural, not a single sun lounger or parasol in sight!

The beach is surrounded not only by a protected nature reserve but also a beautiful port. While you may not find sun loungers or parasols here you most definitely will find palm trees, a woodland area and a beautiful bay sounded by rocks. It is not the longest beach in the world, in fact it is actually quite short but it is definitely the widest beach I´ve ever seen, it seems to take forever to get from the entrance all the way down to the shore but it´s definately worth the walk!

Playa de la Puntilla

Unlike other resorts, there are no temporary huts selling drinks and ice cream, at extortionate prices may I add, to been found along this beach. There is however the cutest little restaurant right on the beach conveniently located under the shade of an enormous tree, magical!

“El Castillito” nicely tucked away under the shade of a tree!

“El Castillito”, the restaurant, is famed for its fried fish and having tried it myself I can see why! The tuna salad was tasty and fresh, the squid was the perfect texture and the pomfret soaked in vinegar was mouth-watering! What a way to spend the weekend!

Our abode for the weekend was the beautiful campsite: el Camping Playa Las Dunas. I say campsite but in reality it was like a luxury resort. I´m new to camping, the outdoors lifestyle was something I was never a fan of, but after a weekend stay here I can honestly say I´m a convert! The pool was better than any I have experienced in any hotel I´ve been to, so clean and inviting. We had a lovely little spot amongst the trees overlooking the rest of the campsite which can only be described as a woodland area with tents and amenities carefully dotted around it! It´s peacefulness was astonishing, it felt like we were the only ones there when in reality there were hundreds of people or so it seemed when it came to checking out! The queue was never-ending!

El Camping Playa Las Dunas; dotted amongst the trees!

I have to admit the trip couldn´t have come at a better time for me. It was just what I needed to catch my breath after a hectic few weeks! Although I enjoyed every minute of it there was a bad part and that was that it came to an end!

Come Sunday evening it was time to leave and it was horrible! That´s the thing with me and beaches, I never want to leave them! I suppose that can be said about everything you love in life, leaving it behind is heartbreaking! But it had to be done so; I sucked it up, put on a brave face and sang my heart out on the car journey home with Pocahontas!

But I vow here and now; I will be back, just watch this space!!

Hope you have enjoyed my post and much as I enjoyed my mini vacation! Seeing as, as usual, my words do not do Playa de la Puntilla the justice it deserves I´ll leave you with a Slideshow; enjoy!

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Have you ever been to Playa de la Puntilla? What did you think of it?

As always, thank you for reading!

Giana xoxo

In the footsteps of a stranger…

This Saturday was a first for me, I was all alone in the city.  With my friends gone to the beach I found myself at a lost as to what to do with myself! After a brief moment of humming and hawing I decided to embark on a new adventure, take on a new role for the day and that was: Irish tourist. Ever so challenging I know, I can´t help it, my imagination just runs wild sometimes! Anyway, while I´m quiet used to being mistaken for a tourist here, not being Spanish and all, actually being a tourist for the day was something totally new for me and, I must say, I rather enjoyed it!

Having lived in Córdoba for almost a year you´d imagine that I´d know the place pretty well by now. Well at least that´s what I thought anyway but, as it turns out, I don´t! Obviously I know enough about the place to have fallen in love with it and to have a life here. However, I´ve come to discover, since today really, that I´m quiet ignorant when it comes to the history of this beautiful city and also what it has to offer tourists! I´d never taken the time to explore those areas, odd considering as I live in the most touristic area in the city!

In any case I got up this morning and reached for my map, selecting places I had heard my friends talking about during the course of the academic year and also places that were located near me. I made a route and a schedule, I do make quiet a professional tourist if I do say so myself, got myself ready and excitedly left the apartment layered in sun-cream and accessorized with flip-flops and my camera ready to take on my role for the day!

First stop: Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. I´m not going to go into too much detail about it in this post as I´m going to write individual posts on each place I liked throughout the course of the week. I´ve way too much to say about each and I don´t want you falling asleep while reading and missing out on anything!

The beautiful Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

Anyway back to the Alcázar. The Alcázar is a former Roman fortress and residence of Christian Kings. It is said to be in this very compound that Spain discussed and planned its vogage to discover America, there is even a monument dedicated to this very event right in the middle of the grounds; a statue of Columbus and the King and Queen! Amazing! Not only can you see the former residence but also the royal baths, the Moorish inspired gardens and the spectacular view of the city from its towers! I´m delighted I decided to start here, I had been a bit uncertain about going as one of my friends had mentioned that there wasn´t much to see there. Maybe it´s because I had low expectations starting out that made the visit so good, who knows! All I know is I really loved every minute I was there!

Monument of Columbus and the King and Queen

One of the towers

Next  stop; Caballerizas Reales or Royal Stables, as thery´re known in English! These stables were built in the year 1570 as an order from King Felipe II. It was in these stables that the pure breed Andalusian horses were first bread. Nowadays these stables are known for their equestrian shows which depict “the passion and spirit of the Andalusian horse”. However, during the day you may wander through the stables and look at the horses, the arenas and the antique buggies that are on display! A nice way to pass the time it you ask me, the Irish tourist!

One of the antique buggies

One of the beautiful Andalusian Horses

From Buggies to Baths, the next stop brought me to the Baños del Alcázar Califal or The Royal Baths Museum. This museum reflects the order in which the Roman Baths followed; cold rooms, warm rooms and hot rooms. It´s a surprising insight into the role of baths in the Roman times, it´s well preserved and very informative. However, as I´m not big into history, it was slightly on the dry side for me! I did learn from it and enjoyed the experience but it was probably my least favourite stop of the day and I´m pretty sure, unlike the others places I visited today, I won´t be going back! 

Baños del Alcázar Califal

After the Baths it was time for a quick spot of lunch and a siesta to prepare myself for the evening ahead! Once refueled, washed and re-layered with sun-cream I set off for my next destination: Museo Arquelógico or The Archaeological museum. This museum is famed as being one of the most complete museums in Spain and I know I wouldn´t feel the need to question that! The museum guides you through the different lifestyles that have existed in Córdoba from pre-history to the middle ages. There is everything you could imagine there from jewellery to pots and pans to headstones. You can even see part of the area that these artifacts were retrieved from and what´s more; it´s free! It´s defienately worth a stop into if you ever find yourself in my role: a tourist in the area!

:Museo Arqueológico

Next stop: Museo de Bellas Artes or Museum of beautiful art, ´don´t let the slightly cliché title put you off, it really is beautiful with beautiful art! The art work, consisting of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints, that´s on display in this museum is spread out over several rooms. The works themselves date from the 14th to the 21st century. While the works were amazing what really grabbed my attention was the entrance. To get to the museum you have to walk through this beautifully manicured garden with a fountain in the centre, I´ve no other words for it other than…breath-taking! Again, this museum was free, so even if art isn´t your thing, I´d definately recommend going in to see the courtyard and the building – Beautiful!

Museo de Bellas Artes

Final stop of the day, you must be getting tired by now, I know I am: Posada del Potro. This Inn dates from the 14th century and is the only example of an Inn which remains in the City. It is said that Cervantes stayed here and used this Inn to draw inspiration for Don Quixote, how true this is I don´t know! Today, however, it´s no longer an Inn but instead a cultural centre and exhibition place. I must say, I´m not sure if it was because it was my last stop and I was tired, this was my favourite stop of the day! It was refreshing to see modern crafts and culture in such a quaint settling. Fantastic!

Posada del Potro

Posada del Potro

Well I hope you´ve managed to stay awake through my fun-filled adventure as a tourist! I think it´s time for me to take a nap now! Hope you´ve had a good Saturday!

As always, thank you for reading!

Giana xoxo

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