I was right when I said that I wouldn’t be short of blog inspiration whilst I’m out here in Spain. Over the past few weeks, I’ve made the most of the terrace of my house to enjoy reading my bible in the sun, I’ve sampled some more Andalusian specialties in quaint and quirky tapas bars, and I’ve been enjoying my morning runs across Puente de Triana watching as the sun rises and hovers over the water. I am understanding more and more at University, including what it means to ‘hacer el puente’ (make the bridge) – an unofficial rule that if there is a public holiday on a Thursday, students can mutually decide to ‘make the bridge’ to the weekend and take Friday off too. I decided to make the most of this a couple of weeks ago when it was Día de Andalucia and take a day trip to Córdoba, a city north east of Sevilla.
I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a squeeze to fit the whole city into one day, but I ended up having ample time to potter around and enjoy myself. I took a walk from the station to the Historic Centre via the Jewish Quarter where the white washed walls were adorned with pink and red flowers sprouting from bright blue flowerpots. There was something about walking around these streets in the peace of the morning with the sun on my back that transported me to the Mediterranean.
And then I arrived at the Historic Centre and grabbed my ticket to enter the Mezquita-Catedral, a cathedral where the architecture bears witness to both its Catholic and Moorish influences. When you enter, you are greeted by a maze of candy cane arches that encircle the Cathedral’s nave which seems to have been copy and pasted from a different building because it’s Renaissance style dome has such a different feel to the rest of the Cathedral. I worked up an appetite gawping at all this grandeur, so I grabbed a slice of takeaway tortilla from a recommended taverna nearby and enjoyed it under the shade of an orange tree in the Patio de los Naranjos, the Mezquita’s courtyard.
Next stop was the Alcazar, but on my way, I was drawn to a café that sold Pastel Cordobés. Yes I had just devoured a hunk of tortilla, but when something is both a local delicacy AND said to be made out of ‘cabello de ángel’ (angel hair), I’m going to try it. Whatever it was, it was certainly as sweet as angels, I’ll say that. Full up, and high on sugar, I headed to the Alcázar. It was definitely worth a visit and, whilst it is not as magnificent as Sevilla’s version, the peaceful rippling ponds and lemon tree mazes hold their own. In the afternoon, I took a stroll across the Puente Romano, enjoyed a cold sangria outside the Palacio de Viana, tried flamenquín and salmorejo (two Cordoban specialties) at a tapas bar near the centre, and finished my trip off by chatting to an old Spanish man who came and sat next to me on the park bench that I’d perched myself upon whilst waiting for my train. All in all, a great day.
And it’s day trips like these, as well as enjoying just ‘being’ in Sevilla that is helping with the gnawing pang of homesickness. I know I’ve mentioned this in a few blog posts so I won’t dwell on it – you can put the world’s smallest violin back in it’s case. But I do think it is important to talk about. I often feel like a fraud, like I’m not a ‘proper’ language student because I’ve not reached the point of ‘never wanting to go home’, of wishing that my year abroad could last forever. Surely, as someone who loves languages, travel and culture, I should be thriving! But what I’ve realised is that you can love all those things AND long to be at home at the same time – both feelings are totally valid and the presence of one doesn’t negate the other. And it’s also not shameful to feel homesick. Even if I am the only one who feels this way, I’m not going to be embarrassed about it because I’m inherently a home bird, and that’s just the way it is. But I have a sneaky feeling that there will be people on their year abroad who will be able to relate in some capacity, so I wanted to share.
And anyway, it’s felt more like home this past week because, would you believe it, it’s been raining. Although one slight difference is the umbrella etiquette here in Spain. There is a severe lack of awareness of the space taken up by an umbrella, and people will approach you on the pavement in the way they would normally, heading straight for you with their pronged nylon weapon in hand. I’ve been faced with the choice – do I stand my ground so as to teach some umbrella decorum and the responsibility you hold of moving out of the way for fellow, unarmed, pedestrians when carrying said umbrella, or do I dodge it so that I can keep my eyes. I tend to opt for the latter.
But this shouldn’t be a problem much more because the sun has popped his hat back on and shining brightly. It’s time for this Brit to start slapping on the factor 50! I apologise for the ramblyness of this post, so thank you if you have stuck to the end. You’re a trooper.