Solo trip to Córdoba in January

There are certain advantages to traveling out of season. Prices are down, you don’t have to queue to visit places and, in Spain, the weather might actually be close to perfect.

The thing is, even if you have time off, most people don’t, so finding a travel companion can be harder than usual. Don’t let that stop you. At least once in a lifetime you should just go for it and travel solo. 

That said, it took me a bit of self-persuading just to get me as far as Córdoba on my own. I’m convinced, however, it won’t be the last trip I do alone, as I enjoyed it very much.

So, Córdoba.

What to see and do: This city is probably best known for its Mosque-Cathedral (pictured above) but there are plenty of things to see. It is rich in history and culture as well as simply exuding beauty at every turn.

This year we’ve had a very sunny and dry January which was perfect for exploring all the streets and alleyways in the Jewish quarter as well as visiting the rather splendid Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.

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The Casa Andalusí was an interesting find. I hadn’t planned a visit, but it happened to be open at a time not much else was and so I popped in for a look around. Described on the Córdoba tourism page as ‘a jewel suspended in time’, it gave a little insight into the traditional Moorish world, with a small paper museum, a collection of old coins, carpeted rooms and patios full of lush greenery, as well as the relaxing sound of trickling water from the fountains.

Not to be missed is the Synagogue. Found down one of the many narrow streets in the Jewish quarter, it would be easy to walk right past it if you weren’t searching for it specifically. Entrance is free and its historical importance alone makes it worth a visit. It’s one of the three best preserved Medieval synagogues in Spain.

On my final morning, the temperatures dropped significantly and a cold wind made me go searching for warmer activities, such as visiting the Archaeological Museum or the Fine Arts Museum, the first of which I enjoyed much more than the second. Fun and interesting, they were both free, which is always a bonus.

The last place I visited was the Torre de la Calahorra, found at the end of the Roman Bridge. This was probably my favourite stop on this trip. The location is stunning, with wonderful views of both the city and the river. It’s eight rooms tell the story of the city and how the different cultures and religions interacted with one another. The audio guide is included in the 4,5€ fee and whispers the tale of Córdoba’s ancient inhabitants in your ear as you discover each of the interactive exhibits.

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I wouldn’t recommend the Corredor de la Inquisición unless you want to see a bunch of torture instruments. I was hoping it would have a bit more information about the Inquisition and whatever role it had played in the city’s past, but the only reference to this was in the entrance. I found it all rather grim and exited quite quickly.

There are a few more good places to visit in Córdoba, such as Medina al-Zahra, though this is located 7km outside the city and requires either a car or a trip on the bus to get there. I also ran out of time to visit the Romero de Torres Museum, which I’m told is worth seeing too.

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Cathedral-mosque tower seen from the Patio de los Naranjos

From Seville, it’s perfectly feasible to take a day trip to Córdoba. You won’t fit it all in, perhaps, but most monuments and places worth visiting are close together and within walking distance of both the train and bus stations. On the other hand, if you have a bit more time, a 2-3 day visit will provide the opportunity to discover most of this historical city in detail.

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This is also part of the mosque-cathedral. Though beautiful too, it somehow felt a bit out-of-place.

Where to stay: this depends on the sort of accommodation you’re looking for. I saw many lovely looking hostels as I wandered the streets in the city centre, there were several glamorous looking hotels round about and Airbnb has some great places too. However, I can fully recommend Hotel Eurostars Maimonides. Being January, the price for a couple of nights was very reasonable and the staff, service and overall quality of the stay were wonderful!

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Tapestry in hotel lobby
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The Roman Temple

Where to eat: I tried several places during my trip. Definitely get away from the mosque-cathedral area unless you are willing to pay more for the location than the food. I highly recommend El Astronauta. It’s not far from the Roman Temple and the food was fabulous. I had the ‘Menú del día’ (menu of the day, found at many Spanish restaurants for great prices)  which included first course, second course, bread, cold drink and dessert or coffee for under 10€. I enjoyed it very much, but everything on the menu sounded tasty!

What to eat: Make sure you try the traditional flamenquín and also the salmorejo. Since salmorejo is served cold, I recommend this especially in summer, but it’s yummy all year round. (Mind you, I don’t know if they serve these at El Astronauta as I tried them elsewhere). On the subject of salmorejo, they have an alleyway dedicated to it in Córdoba, with the recipe on the wall. That was a fun find too!

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Salmorejo recipe

So there it is, my download on Córdoba. If you’ve ever visited, I’d love to hear about it. What did you like best about the city? Let me know in the comments!

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