Escape to Andalucía: One day in Córdoba

One Day in_Córdoba

Back in October-November 2017 I spent my half term wandering around the streets of Madrid, which I blogged about here and here. I seized at the opportunity to get out of the capital and spend a day in a very different city I had yet to visit.

The greatest part about Madrid is how it sits smack bang in the centre of Spain and has excellent rail connections to most parts of the county. In only an hour and a half after boarding the train at Atocha station, I was walking the streets of Córdoba in the balmy heat of your average Andalucian Autumnal morning.

Córdoba is a small city, so a gentle 25-minute walk from the station will find you at its historic centre, where you will find plenty to fill your 1-day itinerary.

Most visitors come to marvel at its iconic Mezquita. You can book tickets in advance online and you should! I had read many reports that the Mezquita is never too crowded and it is easy to get a ticket on the day. How misinformed I was. Usually I book these things in advance just in case things go wrong; but I had been in Spain a few days and already I was super relaxed about everything.

The Mezquita had a massive queue when I arrived, but it closed for several hours in the afternoon when I came back for another try, and only reopened a little before I had to catch my train back to Madrid. Before heading back to the station, there was the most ridiculous queue of people waiting at the entrance to get inside. It was disappointing, so I will know next time not to leave these things to chance.

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Outside the Mezquita

Despite not being able to visit the main site in the city, Córdoba had a few other places of interest which I may not have had the chance to see otherwise!

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

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Not far from the Mezquita is the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, or Palace of the Christian Kings. The gardens were enjoyable to look around and you can see inside some of the original buildings. It is very different to the Alcazares of Sevilla and Granada as this one seems less grand and much smaller, but for a couple of euros it is a must-do when in Córdoba.

Roman Bridge

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Opposite the Mezquita you can walk along the Roman Bridge. This is a famous film set too for Game of Thrones as the ‘Long Bridge of Volantis.’ As a fan, I appreciated this.

Jewish Quarter

Córdoba has a small but rich Jewish heritage in its historic centre. Visit the small but informative Casa de Sefarad to get an idea of what life was like for Jews in the city prior to C15th. Around the corner is a Synagogue, built in the 14th century which still has some beautiful and intricate carvings on the walls.

Celleja de las Flores

Be prepared to be patient if you are heading to this next spot and wanting a picture-perfect shot of the tiny street adorned with flowers, as everyone else is trying to do the same thing! Look past the crowds and enjoy the beauty in this small place.

The best part about Córdoba is wandering its narrow streets, stumbling upon beautiful buildings, and being lost in another time. It was particularly good to stock up on some Vitamin D as this was the last time for a while that I felt the suns rays before I returned to the cold of winter in England!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to my lovely readers.

2017 was a wonderful year of travel for me – the busiest yet, travelling to three continents and exploring places new and old. Looking forward to what 2018 has to bring!

Berlin in February

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Making it to Japan for sakura (cherry-blossom) season

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Exploring the beauty of Kyoto!

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Camping in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Survived the downpour of the first day…

Exploring Prague in July – the wettest/coldest spell you could have asked for!

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All the food in Chile.

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Celebrating my 23rd birthday in the Atacama Desert.

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Experiencing the wilderness in the Bolivian Salt Flats and its surroundings.

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Visiting Machu Picchu for the second time!

Soaking up the last of the sun in Spain in Autumn.

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Thanks 2017, let’s make 2018 even better!

Mooching around Madrid [Part 2]

Despite being a capital city, Madrid goes at a much slower pace than the likes of its counterparts. Weaving my way through the crowded pavements, the locals do not walk, they seem to wander aimlessly, with no destination in mind, and no awareness that there are other people trying to get past. They kept reminding me that I could actually take my time.

I did not pack my days with itineraries, but I had an idea of the activities I wanted to do. I have collected some of the highlights of my trip!

Highlights of my week

Spa afternoon

For my first day, I booked a trip the the Hamman Al-Andalus baths to de-stress and have a good start to the trip. My favourite spa in Spain, I have been to the Madrid location before as well as the one in Granada and I highly recommend going. Make sure you pack a swimsuit!

Day-tripping

Smack-bang in the middle of the country, Madrid is so well connected to other cities by public transport. I took a high-speed train to Córdoba in Andalucia; usually a 4-hour car journey, however after rolling out of Puerta de Atocha station, I was in the sunny south of the country in only 90 minutes! There are loads of other day-trip options, Córdoba is quite far! Most people go to cities like Salamanca, Toledo, Segóvia. However, I have been to these places before and Córdoba was at the top of my list.

El Palacio Real

During my first visit to Madrid, I had attempted to visit the Royal Palace, to only learn it was closed – it is often closed for important events. This time, better informed, I made sure I checked availability online and booked my tickets in advance. The palace is beautiful and fascinating if you are interested in Spanish history and the royal family. The armory collection is particularly impressive too. Don’t miss the temporary exhibition (this was an extra 1€ to my ticket). Not many people seem to choose this option as I was the only one in there when I went in, but I was glad I did; I learned all about Carlos III and the exhibit was brilliant!

Museo Reina Sofia

Free to students and there is a cat cafe next door. Definitely a good museum choice for people like me who still have a valid student card and are cat-mad. There are much fewer queues here than the famous Prado (which I still have not been to). It is a massive museum and has a range of temporary and permanent exhibitions. Most famous for the museum where you can see Picasso’s Guernica. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved the temporary exhibit about George Herriman and the Krazy Kat illustrations and from the permanent exhibit on war, I learned about the extreme poverty in Las Hurdes in the 20th century, through Luis Buñuel’s shocking documentary, Las Hurdes: Land without Bread (1933).

Opera

Researching online before my trip, I discovered that they were showing my favourite opera, Carmen (Georges Bizet) during the dates that I was there. Okay, I have seen this opera twice already, but third time is the charm, right? Plus, I had only just purchased some opera glasses in an antique store a few weeks prior and needed to test them out… I had a great time at the opera, and although it was the one thing I splurged on, it was absolutely worth it!

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Way, way, way up, but I had a great view!

Templo de Debod

I had been here before, but I loved the sunset over this Egyptian Temple that I had to go back. It is a popular place to see the sunset as it is so beautiful, so don’t be late!

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Madrid has so much to offer and I feel like I made the most of my time there. From the highlights mentioned above to the little things like: speaking Spanish with anyone and everyone, sitting outside a café munching on pan con tomate and sipping a warm Colacao for breakfast and walking everywhere – something I dont get to do much at home, made it a great autumn getaway.

What do you think of Madrid? Let me know in the comments!

p.s. apologies for the lack of photos, I had to factory reset my phone and lost most of my photos, including ones of all the cute cats 😦

Robyn

 

Mooching around Madrid [Part 1]

Eight weeks long, the first and also the longest half term in the school calender finally came to a close last week. The first 2 months as an NQT have been tough,  but having my little trip to Madrid kept my head above water.

I booked cheap flights on a whim earlier in Spring, knowing very well that neither J. nor any of my friends would be able to accompany me. The Ryanair scare of thousands of cancelled flights did not affect me and I was still able to go.

This was not only my first time back in Spain since my Year Abroad and but also the first time I have done solo travel in two years. I visited Madrid on my own before flying home two years ago; three days in summer was not enough to make the most of the city, so this time I booked 5 days to make the most of my time off.

I have travelled alone so many times over the last 5 years and really enjoyed it: Paris, Madrid, Porto, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Lisbon… but admittedly, it was something that took a few days for me to get re-accustomed to. I chose my hostel in particular as from the reviews, it was very sociable and friendly, but unfortunately it was anything but. Frustrating, as when I have travelled alone in the past, the hostels have really been a highlight of the trip.

Even after having spent a total of 8 days in the Spanish capital, I cannot say I have done everything, but that was not my intention. I did what I wanted in my own time. I saw some museums, slept during siesta, did some shopping, did the day-trip I wanted, splurged on that opera ticket, went to a spa, went to the cat café. I actually did quite a bit but it was not rushed. That is the beauty of going to a place and having the time to do it slowly, you don’t have to rush and cram everything in.

So I am home now, mentally preparing myself to go back to work tomorrow and also for the next seven weeks before the Christmas holidays. At least it is Bonfire Night tonight!

Stay tuned for Part 2

Weekly blog posts about my South American adventure published every Sunday!

Robyn

Travel Update: Autumn in Madrid

My travels from South America this summer are still making their way onto the blog but I am also looking ahead at my upcoming adventures! 

The next trip will see me going back to Madrid for 5 days during half term. I haven’t set foot in Spain since completing my Year Abroad – which feels like a million years ago by the way!

I am going back to the Al-Andalus baths to relax on my first full day – wash away the stress from work – at least for a few days.

I will be catching the high-speed train to Córdoba another day, somewhere I have been dying to visit for too long. Then, for my final night I have managed to snap up a ticket for my favourite opera, Carmen! It was too perfect an opportunity to miss. I bought some opera glasses in an antique shop this weekend so I’m glad to be getting use out of them so soon. 
There will still be plenty of time for delicious food, shopping and hopefully I will make it to some museums and the Royal Palace which I skipped last time. 

I haven’t travelled solo for quite a while now, so it feels a bit strange, but I am excited to do whatever I feel like doing, having some me-time and more Spanish practice!

Any recommendations for Madrid/Córdoba? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Robyn

Robyn Bobbing has won a Leibster Award!

All my thanks goes towards Jordan from Global Debauchery for nominating me! The Liebster Award is awarded to bloggers by other award winners, in an effort to recognize up-and-coming talent in the blogging community. They are also an incentive to network, provide exposure and build a supportive online community.

Robyn Bobbing Around’s 11 Nominator Questions:

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Robyn, I’m 21 and currently studying Modern Languages at unviersity in the UK. I like travel, yoga, sunny weather and I have a gorgeous black cat called Blackie.

  • What’s your blog about and why was it started?

My blog is predominantly a travel blog where I share my adventures around the UK and abroad. It originally started as a Year Abroad blog for a university outreach scheme but as the blog began to grow, I too began to grow so fond of it. I decided that I did not wish to part with it after the year was over, and here we are.

  • When were you officially bitten by the travel bug? What was the inspiration?

I don’t recall when it began, I have always had an interest in travel. When I was younger, my family and I mostly spent our summers on the Costa Blanca, where I would read a lot, swim and walk along the beach. They were very much relaxing holidays and cultivated within me a sense that Spain is a second-home, something I still feel today. Perhaps, the school trips arouund mainland Greece and to Rome really instilled upon me a desire to travel to historical and cultural centers, which is my main travel interest now. I have not had a beach holiday in 5 years, I just love cultural breaks.

  • What was your last trip? What was your favorite part?

My last trip was to Budapest at New Year. My favourite moment was seeing Die Fledamaus at the Opera. It’s so affordable to get great seats at the opera in Budapest, compared to what you can get for the same price in London.

  • Do you have any specific travel “goals?” If so, what are they?

Before I turn 30, I hope to step on the African continent (where to go first though?!), return to South America (Ecuador, Brazil at the top), go to Japan and travel a bit around India. I have more long term buck list destinations, but I will get there when I get there.

  • What’s your favorite part of traveling (culture, people, nature, etc.)? Why?

That’s a tricky one. My favourite part of traveling is definitely the culture; understanding how other people live, attempting to speak the language(s), and of course, eating the delicous cuisine. Still, the people I meet and spend the experience with can make it or break it -my Birthright Trip around Israel in 2014 is so memorable because of the people I spent it with. I love nature, and that is why Iceland is my number one destination, it has such outstanding natural beauty.

  • Any travel disasters? Please elaborate.

Luckily, I don’t think I have had any of them yet. Bad experiences? A fair few. Looking back on them now they’re quite amusing to recall, but they were far from it at the time. An interesting one would be when I was hiking the Salkantay Trek in Peru. I hadn’t acclimitased well to the high altitude as it was still the first day and within a few hours of hking, there I was, lying on the top of a mountain in South America with an oxygen mask over my face, while everyone else was sat having lunch. Not a great start, but I should add, that I did finish, so not a disaster – just the most physically challenging thing I have ever done.

  • Tell me about the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling.

I met a fascinating man when I was a a hostel in Porto last summer. He was a peregrino for the Camino de Santiago. He had spent the previous 8 weeks walking on several routes to Santiago (quite a long time). He then had walked from Santiago down to Porto. It was so interesting to learn about his experiences; how he tested his endurance, the people he met, how he was received by others on the road. The Camino in general is an amazing thing to do and it was the first time I had ever met a peregrino.

  • Have you ever had an epiphany on your travels? Do tell.

On my Year Abroad last year, I would often have the feeling of gratitude and amazement of how lucky I was to be living in such a beautiful part of the world at that given moment. However, whether that was gazing at the snow-capped mountains in Perpignan, marvelling at the beauty of the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca or admiring the views over Lisbon at one its many miradouros, I cannot tell you.

  • What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done while traveling?

Iceland has to win this. Snorkelling in the Silfra fissure between tectonic plates in 2°c water? Spectacular but my body did not appreciate the numbing sensation from such cold conditions. Hiking on a glacier in Skaftafell was exhilarating – looking down the crevasses to the dangerous abyss below…

  • What’s your next trip? What are you most looking forward to on it?

My next trip is in the next few weeks at Easter. I’m going to Amsterdam and Brussels with my housemate, Kam. Looking forward to seeing Brussels from a local’s perspective (Kam’s from there) and stocking up on lots and lots of delicious Belgian chocolate. Also, admiring the tulips at the Keukenhof Festival in the Netherlands.

Robyn Bobbing Around’s Nominees

Congratulations to my nominees! Please click around and visit their sites to support them.

Frogs Legs and Vodka Dregs

Andorin’a Travels

Saigon3

Charlotte’s Web

Joycelyn: Aspiring Grown Up

5903 miles

Robyn Bobbing Around’s 11 Nominee Questions:

Okay guys, your 11 questions are below. Enjoy and make the most of it. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s answers! Thanks for taking part.

  • Share an interesting fact about yourself.
  • What motivated you to start your blog?
  • If you were to receive an all-expense paid trip for you and a friend for two weeks, where would your first choice be and why?
  • What helps you to relax?
  • If you could be fluent in one other language in addition to the ones you already know, which would you choose and why?
  • Do you have some sort of bucket list (travel/life experiences/goals)? What are your top three?
  • Have you read a book that has been especially influential on you? Please tell.
  • What is the one thing about yourself that you’re most proud of and why?
  • What is one thing you can’t leave home without?
  • Is there a craft or hobby you would like to learn how to do?
  • Tell me where you are now and where you’re going next!

Happy blogging!

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11 Months of Travel in 11 Pictures

It occuried to me earlier this week, that it has been a whole eleven months already, since I set off to France in August 2014 to start my Year Abroad. It feels just like yesterday and yet a million years ago at the same time, and it is all going to end in a week’s time, just like that.

I have had an incredible year, experiencing living abroad and documenting it all as I have gone along, and I hope you, my readers, friends and family, have enjoyed the journey to France, Spain and Portugal with me! Although it was a tough selection, I have chosen a select 11 photographs to sum up each of these last wonderful 11 months (featured image doesn’t count!)…

August 2014

Perpignan, the arrival (26th August)

Perpignan, the arrival (26th August), busy spent registering at university and opening a bank account, oh and at the beach!

September 2014

A month full of travel: Banyuls-sur-mer, Collioure, Carcassonne, Villefranche-de-Conflent and GIRONA

A month full of travel before university in Perpi became too serious: Banyuls-sur-mer, Collioure, Carcassonne, Villefranche-de-Conflent and GIRONA

October 2014

Julia, me and Kam at the Vallée des tortues near Perpignan!

Julia, me and Kam at the Vallée des tortues near Perpignan, one of my favourite day-trips from this semester! Also went to Salses, a weekend trip Nîmes, saw Émilie Simon in concert, and met up with friends in Barcelona, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille AND Avignon this month!

November 2014

Day trip to Montpellier!

Day trip to Montpellier! Also went to Barcelona this month for a second time.

December

Repas de départ. Leaving meal in Perpi before I flew home.

Photo taken from my repas de départ (leaving meal) in Perpi. Also went to Barcelona for the third time and Collioure for the Christmas Market before eventually taking my exams and flying home 😦 Was very sad to leave.

January 2015

Salamanca, the arrival (29th January). Very cold!

Salamanca, the start of the second half of my Year Abroad (29th January). Very cold, don’t let those blue skies fool you!

February 2015

Me and Becca in Toledo! Also went to Ciudad Rodrigo for Carnava, Segovia, Ávilal and Lisbon this month!

Me and Becca in Toledo! Also went to Ciudad Rodrigo for Carnaval, Segovia, Ávila and Lisbon this month!

March 2015

Las Fallas in Valencia was incredible! Also had a fantastic weekend in Bilbao, Semana Santa in Salamanca and a weekend trip home!

Las Fallas in Valencia was incredible! Also had a fantastic weekend in Bilbao with James (we are now obsessed with Basque pintxos), Semana Santa in Salamanca, a weekend trip home AND moved flats in Salamanca!

April 2015

Me with Becca exploring the beautiful Alhambra in Granada! Also went to Mérida and Sevilla this month.

May 2015

View from the Cathedral of La Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca. May was exam month, so I got to explore some more of Salamanca at the weekends.

View of the Cathedral from La Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca. May was exam and essay writing month, so I got to explore some more of Salamanca at the weekends instead of travel elsewhere for a change.

June 2015

Photo taken in Porto, during a lovely moonlit walk along the river with Nathan and Julio! Also visited Madrid this month and said “hasta luego” to Salamanca…

July 2015

July has been spent attending a Portuguese language summer course in Lisbon and exploring more of this beautiful city! Photo taken at the Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte, my favourite viewpoint in the city!

Thank you to everyone that has and continues to read/comment/follow RobynBobbingAround! 

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