Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How Not to Do Córdoba.

Hot on the heels of vowing never to complain about the heat, Señor Gato Gringo and I decided to escape the heat that I'm not complaining about and take a junket out of town this past weekend. And what better way to escape the heat that I'm not complaining about than by visiting a city 10 degrees hotter! Not that I'm complaining. But it is disconcerting to watch the colour of your pee turn darker and darker (a nice yellow ochre jumps to mind) in spite of the fact that you're imbibing 2 litres of beer, sangria water an hour.

So to make amends to the weather gods whom I've clearly offended, I offer an albeit brief but heartfelt Travel Advisory for the City of Córdoba. So without further ado ...

How Not to Do Córdoba

1) Don't be seduced by July/August rates.
There is a perfectly rational reason why hotel rates plummet during the dogs days of summer - which by some astronomical anomaly are about 75 days long rather than a week. In short, it's hot (not that I'm complaining). If you really had your heart set on traipsing about labyrinthine alleys which admit no breeze and watching the ice melt in your sangria as the waiter crosses a shadeless plaza to serve you, ignore Rule #1; otherwise, spring for an extra 10 euros and come any other time of the year.

2) Don't even bother coming on Sundays and Mondays. Pretty much everything of a cultural and historical nature closes at 2:00 on Sunday and reopens Tuesday morning. To me this seems a somewhat uppity slap in the face to the Unwritten Rule in Europe that everything of a cultural and historical nature is closed on Tuesday. If shopping and drinking is your thing, ignore Rule #2; otherwise, if you really had your heart set on seeing the Mezquita, see you on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. You get the drift.

3) Don't accept a "gift" from the "persistent ladies" around the Mezquita. I trust everyone caught the wickedly clever subtleties in my choice of vocabulary, because by "gift" I mean not a gift at all, and by "persistent ladies" I really mean gypsies. In any case, don't even think of touching, let alone expelling carbon dioxide on their regalo, their "gift" of a sprig of rosemary because it is not a regalo but an opportunity to separate a fool (you) from his/her (your) money. If you really had your heart set on having your wallet snatched out of your hand by the "persistent lady's" accomplice, ignore Rule #3; otherwise, choose to make eye contact with the cobblestones and/or adopt a callous sneer as you walk the city's streets.

4) Don't look for a drink after 11:00. Defying every law of physics, Córdoba's sidewalks have the preternatural ability to roll up with no human or mechanical assistance or contrivance around 11:00 at night. Although theoretically an intellectually stimulating phenomenon to witness, this is truly not a wondrous event to experience when it's, say, 11:01 and you really want a beer and because it's 11:01, the temperature has probably plummeted to 35° which, as everyone knows, is a doable climate in which to sit out of doors with a cold beer. In a word: find an after hours bar. If you really had your heart set on ending your evening at 11:01 ignore Rule #4; otherwise, when the clock hits 10:59, give chase to any thirsty-looking local.

5) Don't trust any guidebook or, for that matter, this Travel Advisory for the City of Córdoba. The Tourism Poobahs of the City of Córdoba are notorious for changing the hours of operation for monuments and museums. Why they do this to unsuspecting visitors is not clear to me - I have generously eliminated gratuitous evil as a likely motivation - but I do I suspect that toga-wearing augers with freshly sacrificed birds in one hand and greasy entrails in the other are involved in selecting the hours and dates slated to be changed. After all, Córdoba was once the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Baetica and I'm sure that old habits die hard. If you really had your heart set on spending the evening in the gardens of the Alcázar because your guidebook told you it would be open, ignore Rule #5; otherwise, verify all times at the nearest Punto de Información Turística.

6) Don't trust the
Punto de Información Turística. It's not that they intentionally lie - again, I've generously eliminated gratuitous evil as a likely motivation for their dispensing of misinformation - but take everything with a grain of sal. Córdoba is vying with Łódź in Poland for the title of Miss Cultural Capital of Europe for the year 2016 and consequently, 93% of the old city is under renovation. In a word: Spain is a country ensnared in red tape, and as we all know, in every bureaucratic system, right hands and left hands seldom have martini lunches over which to catch up on news - notably, what's currently cocooned in scaffolding and therefore closed to the public. If you really had your heart set on only viewing the Convent of Santa Fill-in-the-blank from the outside, ignore Rule #6; otherwise, verify all times at the nearest Punto de Información Turística ... there is no otherwise.

You're welcome.


neil wykes said...

Great advice on the museums it explains a lot about my last visit. Shouldn't Cordova be hot? In my mind's eye it always was hot and under an azulejo sky and that was the romantic view I had of it. Albeit too hot to move, siesta enforcing, suburnt romance.

La Gatita Gringa said...

up, Cordoba should be hot. Just not THAT hot. (Not that I'm complaining).

Anne said...

We go your Cordoba postcard today! Holy, el posto espanolo es muy speedy

La Gatita Gringa said...

Holy Toledo - already?!! Finally a corporation that likes me.

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