Moorish Ruins and Córdoba

I have neglected writing about my travels in Spain for a while!  October was pretty busy for me… but I’m back!  I hope you all have a Happy Halloween and All Saints Day/Día de los Muertos!
I went on an organized day trip with my program (Academic Programs International) to Córdoba the day after the Wig Party, and that day marked a significant moment for us: March 16, 2012 = the first time any of the Americans had seen RAIN since we had arrived in Spain!  And when it rains, it POURS.
The day started out overcast, and we went to the ruins of a Moorish city called Medina Azahara just outside of Córdoba.  The ruins were really cool!  The Moors were a highly intelligent bunch; they even had a pretty advanced plumbing system (check out the 2nd picture: the “toilet” was a hole in the ground, but underneath was impressive plumbing).  Also, there were these adorable hairy caterpillars EVERYWHERE.  Not exaggerating.  The guide said that if we had arrived a week prior, we would have seen the walls completely covered in caterpillars!  We enjoyed exploring the ruins, but the sky soon parted and the drops started falling.  We weren’t able to stay because there was nowhere to take shelter.  Having been caught off guard by this completely foreign concept of water falling from the sky (What? It actually rains in Spain? Crazy!), no one had thought to bring an umbrella, so those who had scarves used them to protect their heads.  I am so glad I had brought mine!  We ran right back to the bus and headed off to Córdoba.
Medina AzaharaMoorish toilet
These little guys were EVERYWHERE!!!Everyone get together and act happy!
I love arches.Love those flower pots!Marita and I trying to keep our hair drySO. INTRICATE.
I think the rain put a damper on everyone’s spirits (we got over the excitement of actually seeing rain fairly quickly), because the general consensus was feeling unimpressed with Córdoba itself.  This might have also been because we were comparing it to Sevilla, and both cities are extremely similar: mudejar-style architecture with intricate details, great tapas, charming mazes of cobblestone streets and narrow alleys, Andalusian cities sitting on the Guadalquivir River, a rich cultural history, etc.  Córdoba even has a tower that looks almost exactly like La Giralda!  All of these things are wonderful, of course, but for us it was like Córdoba was Sevilla’s twin, and we were meeting her for the first time when she was sick with a cold.  However, it didn’t stop us from appreciating the minor differences!  One of my favorite observations was that some of its street names were very creative and displayed that lovely Spanish humor.

This street name means “Where You Are Going”

The Mesquita (mosque) was the most impressive part of Córdoba.  I’d always seen pictures of it in Spanish travel books and photography, and the real thing was awe-inspiring!  What I had no idea about, though, was that the Catholics gave the biggest insult to the Moors in the Mesquita by building a gorgeous altar and church right smack dab in the middle of it.  It really was breathtakingly beautiful, and I loved the contrast between the two religions.  I think my favorite thing I noticed were scenes from Jesus’ life (like the Stations of the Cross) in between Muslim arches.  That was such a huge culture clash, but in a beautiful way.

Those famous archesJesus in a Muslim arch.Right smack dab in the middle of it all.GorgeousScenes from Jesus' life in a Muslim arch

After seeing the Mesquita, it was time to go.  We left the city through an arch that led to a massive bridge that spanned across the Guadalquivir River.  Looking back at the city from that point was giving us a gorgeous view of it.  By this point the sun had come out and Córdoba looked like she was enjoying the sun’s rays.  We took our last glances at Córdoba, then got back on the bus that would take us home to Sevilla.

Córdoba's equivalent of our GiraldaPray for safe passage to the other side?ArchangelEntrance into the city. Or exit, for us.Guadalquivir flowing swiftlyCrossing el ríoAww, Córdoba! You look so pretty here!Spain's iconic bull

I hope to return one day during Córdoba’s spring festivals where the entire city is covered in flowers!  That would definitely be a sight to behold.

Splang Saturday: 8 – Dirty Edition *NSFW*

People say that the bad words are the first ones you learn in another language, or at least the ones you pick up the fastest. If that’s the case, this is probably going to be the most memorable “Splang Saturday” post I’ll make. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce…. the palabrotas. Seeing as how it’s Halloween weekend, this post will be either a trick or a treat for you, depending on how you look at it!

I did a bit more research before posting, and I found a great article that I had to include pieces of! Everything that you see in blue comes from Nellie Huang’s blog postTop 10 Spanish swear words” — everything else was written by yours truly.

Disclaimer: Lots of very vulgar words here in both Spanish and English; not for the faint of heart and NSFW (Not Safe For Work). If strong/crude/offensive/vulgar language offends you, do not click the “read more” button. Now, with that out of the way… let the fun begin!

Continue reading

Splang Saturday: 7

Fregar (freh-GAR) = to wash plates or to clean the floor; it’s used like the way we’d use “to scrub” — in Latin America they’d just use the term lavar when referring to washing something. Fregar in Latin America (more often than not) means “to bother” or it can also mean “to damage” or “to ruin.” So you can imagine my confusion when my host mom first asked me to help her fregar the dishes. I immediately imagined throwing the plates on the floor and breaking them, but quickly asked if by fregar she meant “to wash” instead. Glad I asked!

Cine palomitero (THEE-neh pa-lo-mi-TEH-ro) = movies that are just an excuse to go eat popcorn. These movies are usually the kind that don’t require much thinking on the audience’s part, or they have little-to-no plot. Magic Mike and Talladega Nights would be considered cine palomitero. (Pronunciation guide: the “th” sound is always soft, like in the word “thanks”)

Empollón (em-po-YON) = nerd

Empollando (ehm-po-YAHN-do) = studying

Cutre (KOO-treh) = trashy; poorly-made

Calatero (ka-la-TEH-ro) = someone from Cádiz

Granadino (gra-na-DEE-no) = someone from Granada

Sevillano (seh-vee-YA-no) = someone from Sevilla

Madrileño (ma-dree-LEH-nyo) = someone from Madrid

Splang Saturday: 6

Chaval (cha-VAL) = guy; dude; young man

Chavala (cha-VA-la) = chick; young woman

Palabrota (pa-la-BRO-ta) = swear word; curse word; bad word.

Botellón (bo-teh-YOHN) = Outdoor drinking party/gathering in a plaza, street, park, or other public place involving cheaply purchased alcohol from an OpenCor or a chino.

Porro (PO-rro) = joint (of the weed-smoking variety)

De puta madre (deh POO-ta MA-dreh) = Really, REALLY awesome/cool! The best! (e.g. ¡Lo pasamos de puta madre! = “We had an awesome time!”) — Literal translation: “of whore mother” (Note: puta used on its own is a palabrota. Puta means “prostitute” or “whore” and is very offensive)

Mama, Papa, I’m sorry. I’ve become a thief.

Journal Entry: March 4, 2012

I know you’ve raised me better than this, but my circumstances have made me this way! I’m not alone, either. All of the American girls have become thieves.

You see, the problem is this: There is no toilet paper in Sevilla. Let me rephrase that. There is hardly ever any toilet paper in any of the restrooms in Sevilla. With the exception of your bathroom at home, you won’t find it. I can’t believe I haven’t written about this before, cuz it’s a pretty big deal.

As a result, the American girls have resorted to thievery. Yes, thievery. Although it shames me… I steal the cheap paper napkins from the little metal napkin dispensers at restaurants and store them in my purse for later use as toilet paper. THERE! I admit it! I’m sorry! I just don’t know what else to do! The boys don’t know how easy they have it. But you know what the worst part of it is? The napkins aren’t even soft like toilet paper. They feel more like wax paper; they make crinkly noises.

Also, it’s crazy how we’ve adapted to our environment. Before we figured out the napkin trick (it took us about a week and a half), a lot of the girls would stop drinking water prior to heading out so that they wouldn’t have to use the bathroom.

Just the other day, one of my friends was stepping out of a café’s bathroom when I felt “the urge.” These were the words that came out of my mouth regarding the bathroom: “Is it clean? Scratch that. Is there toilet paper?” To which she responded with an elated, “YES! It actually has toilet paper!”

I’ll never take toilet paper for granted again.

Splang Saturday: 5

Carta (KAR-ta) = menu — I think it’s more popular to ask for el menú in Latin America. However, in Spain, el menú refers to the daily special (menú del día), so if you want a menu that lists all the food they offer at a café/tapas bar/restaurant in Spain, ask for la carta.

Ganga (GAN-ga) = the official translation is “bargain” — but it can also be a slang term meaning “a much-desired item”

Chollo (CHO-yo) = a bargain; something cheap; something of great benefit acquired with little effort

La Leche (la LEH-cheh) = awesome/cool/the bomb (e.g: ¡Paris es la leche! = “Paris is the bomb!”) — Literal translation: “the milk”

La Marcha (la MAR-cha) = nightlife (e.g. Salir de marcha = to go out/to party)

Montarla gorda (mon-TAR-la GOR-da) = to party hard, or as the young people like to say, “go hard.” — Literal translation means to “mount the fat.” Don’t ask; I don’t get it either. Used in a sentence: ¡Mañana la vamos a montar gorda!


The Thursday after my trip to Barcelona, I got invited to the birthday party of one of the Spaniards in my class.  It was all girls, and it was themed: WIG PARTY!!! (Fiesta de la Peluca)  Well, silly me, I didn’t bring any of my pelucas to Spain, so I had to borrow one from my Spanish friend, Maria.  The wig was long and red, and I had a blue/green dress, so I decided to go as the Little Mermaid!

Hear my beautiful siren's voice?You know we're sexy.

The food was “Mexican” — so basically tacos and guacamole.  But it was so good!  One of the girls was going as Nikki Minaj, so she got creative and stuffed a pillow down the back of her leggings to give her a more “voluptuous” figure.  After much picture-taking, we hit the streets of Sevilla and attracted lots of strange looks and playful cat calls. 😉

Friends!Walking the streets of Sevilla. Yup.

We even met up with some of my American friends on Calle Alfalfa! I had a great time with the girls that night, and they enjoyed practicing their English and also teaching us all sorts of words and phrases popular among the young Spanish crowd these days.  A great night!

We met up w/ my friends! LOL @ KatherineThat's a good look for you, Robbie!
Bearded Katherine ^^^ & Robbie was such a good sport with that white wig! ^^^