Summer in Spain: Córdoba/Sevilla/Ronda
If you’ve ever been on long, limb-restrictive, seatbelt-fixated car rides, you know how refreshing it is to break free of the slumber and go on a little jog. Thus, after spending a night in a beautifully decorated hotel room (it had been decorated with an Arabic air with marble floors, patterned sheets and all) my dad and I decided the best way to explore the wonderfully enchanting city of Córdoba was by revving up the cardio.
Running across the bridge that connects the old town of Córdoba with the more urban, grungy side of the city was a most wonderful experience. On one hand you have a running river aptly left looking rustic, with the free-growing ferns scattered amongst crumbling brick structures, while on the other you are left with a sprawling view of the more urban side of the city; it makes one feel so enclosed yet infinite in scope at the same time.
Funnily, what with my dad’s professed navigational skills, we got lost along the way, but thankfully we were able to find ourselves back at the hotel by asking around. Once again I was reminded by how incredibly friendly Spanish people are, with their ever unrelenting want to not only tell you the direction in which you should go, but also to take you by their side and physically bring you around the corner to show you exactly what they mean. Ah, if only people all around the world were this intimate!
Once we got back, we had breakfast. Then, we left the city of Córdoba for Sevilla. Córdoba – with its quietude and relaxing way of life – was by far my favorite place on the trip, so I was a little bit heartsick at leaving so soon… but the diversity of Spain would never disappoint. As I was quick to discover, that is.
We arrived in Sevilla, and I was initially struck by how similar it was to Madrid. A crowded, urban look permeated the place, and the business of the shops and the streets contrasted to that of Córdoba. We rode along El Arenal, the street housing the famous Plaza del Toro (Plaza of the Bull – Sevilla’s bullring), and it was nice to see the little bouts of culture scattered amongst the gentrification.
We first decided to take a look at the Sevilla Cathedral, seeing as it was one of the top attractions. If there’s one thing that comes to mind when one admires Spanish cathedrals, it’s this: how on earth was it physically possible for mankind to have created something so intricate? Especially looking and ruminating upon the two-tonne structure featuring scenes from the bible – made entirely out of gold, apparently – made me wonder such. Although at this point – no offense intended at all – I had become somewhat disenchanted by cathedrals due to the constant exposure to such beautiful architecture, so if there’s one interesting thing I remember from the cathedral it was the open-windowed confessional and how it was just that: open. If the person inside literally moved his head to the side, the confessor would be right there. Interesting…
Anyhow, my parents and I then made our way to the bullring. Initially I was incredibly disgusted at the idea of even considering the ring, seeing as my views on animal cruelty are opposed against using animals for our own entertainment; and if the money for the entrance did go anywhere, it would probably go towards perpetuating the practice. But then again, culture is an equally fundamental part of what makes anything stand out… so in the end, I was left with when in Spain, do as the Spaniards do. I was glad I made such a decision because the bullring was actually intriguing. It was heartwrenching to see the iron figurine of a dead bull being pulled out by three horses and equally shocking to find out that whenever a toro (bull) killed the torero (bullfighter), its mother would also be killed; there was one head of a mother bull mounted on the wall, and the look in its (glass) eyes reminded me how many sacrifices mothers make in their lives. But despite what I had otherwise filtered out as ‘inhumane’, the one thing that put things into perspective and added a kiss of humanity to it all was a room named ‘La Capilla’ (prayer room) in which the torero would pray before he entered the ring. The amount of emotion attached to the art of the bullring is not only tantamount to the exhilaration of the fight, but also the tenuousness of unknowing behind the scenes. On the wall was a written prayer entitled ‘Oración del Torero’ (Prayer of the Bullfighter), with one of the lines being: ‘free me of all the bad I have done’.
After the bullring, we then took the car and this time, drove all the way to Ronda. The car ride was one filled with sunflower fields and, towards the latter part of the trip, huge, cavernous mountains that lumbered across the horizon; it was canyon-esque. The hotel we would stay for a night was situated right in the breast of the mountain, in the fresh, countryside air amidst the calling of goats and the tinkling of their bells; I had never stayed at such a tranquil, serene place in my life and coming here in itself was an experience. The room in which I am typing this entry now is incredibly organic and rustic looking, with stucco walls illuminated by faux candles and held together by beams of uncut wood. The lobby is inundated with couches of all shapes and sizes, that sink deeply when sat on… there are no words to describe how ‘at peace’ one feels at such an institution.
Oh boy, what a day… first the quiet Old Town of Córdoba, then the urban sprawl of Sevilla, and now the empty mountains near Ronda… we’ve seen three completely different parts of Spain within a single day, and there has, once again, been enough time on the clock face.
Spain is such an exquisite country. That is all I can say.