Strolling the backroads of this city is one of the best things you can do.
Narrow and winding and packed with character, the streets of Cordoba are not polished and pretty for the tourists. They’re living, breathing streets where the locals congregate for an animated chat and a cheeky cerveza.
Sunday started as it usually does. With a walk around the old quarter. And with this, I was reminded yet again why I love it here.
Taking in the sights and sounds of the place can be one thing, but the people are another.
I am sitting in a square minding my own business when I am distracted by the goings-on around me. A colour-coordinated family in their church best are out in the sunshine; dad looking, neat, tidy and proud, mum, expectedly fabulous in her hand-picked, flowing, red frock and long, perfect hair – she’s mastered the most graceful of walks despite the ankle-breaking cobble-stones and the pram she is pushing – the three kids, all matching and immaculately dressed.
A group of teenagers walk by. The boys retain the clean Sunday appearance they’ve grown up with – pressed shirt and beige trousers. I think their mothers still dress them. The girls, not so. Shorts three sizes too small, singlets and sandals, they are showing as much of their young bronzed skin as possible. They run to the fountain and before I know it, they’re having a water fight.
Three young boys enter, jostling over a football.
On the other side of the square, three elderly men sit together, flat caps and walking canes, they are short and stout. With their big rolling beer bellies and raspy voices, they shout loudly at one of the boys to score.
This is a familiar scene. Looking on, I can’t help but know I am in Spain.
It’s plazas like this that bring the city to life. But two steps in the other direction and you can easily stumble upon cute enclaves and tiny alleyways like La Calleja del Pañuelo (Handkerchief lane). Reputedly one of the narrowest in Europe, it is meant to bestow good luck upon you should you string a scarf or handkerchief from one side to the other.
The streets here are each unique in their own way but I can’t help but love how they are almost always characterised with the typical Andalucian Orange trees and flowered terraces.
A walk through the backstreets is always full of intrigue. I’ve lived in the same area now for three months and go exploring just about every weekend, but still, I manage to happen upon something new and unseen right on my doorstep just about each and every time.
Like this. I stumbled upon La Calle de las Cabezas (the Road of the Heads) a few weekends ago. The story fascinates me. Nestled behind my very own street, they say that in 974 AD, the Lord of Salas was imprisoned in the house adjacent to this and the heads of his seven sons who died in the fields of Soria were hung here, between the arches.
You might have noticed by now, my fascination not just for the backstreets, but also for little old Spanish men. They’re just so quintessentially Spanish! My apologies in advance for the increasing number of “Old Man” photos on this blog.
I am easily reminded each time I walk out my door, that it’s the small things in life you need appreciate. Not exactly difficult when I am surrounded by so much splendour. How lucky am I?