Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Little Tour of Downtown Cordoba

Tuesday my language tutor took us on a little tour of downtown Cordoba. We really enjoyed the museums, churches and part of the original building that houses the University of Cordoba (dates back to early 1600s). Also had fun cooling off in Patio Olmos Shopping Center that once housed a primary school. Since it was 97° in the shade, we went into the air conditioned mall a couple of times for quick relief from the heat.

Anyway, for a rundown of our day...We took the bus from Carlos Paz to Cordoba rather than driving because (1) driving downtown is no picnic; and (2) parking downtown requires patience and money. Lots of money. It was cheaper to take the bus. Plenty of buses going back and forth. In fact the one we had tickets for on the return filled up before we made it to the door. No problema; just waited while it pulled out and another one immediately pulled in and we climbed on board. Since the bus drivers know where they're going (we don't yet) it also took less time than driving ourselves.

Our first stop was the Museo de Belles Artes Emilio Caraffa that is hosting an exposition of engravings by Francisco de Goya and interpretations of those engravings by Salvador Dali. Creepy cool. All of Goya's things were printed in black while some of Dali's had infusions of color. Dali also put in a lot more demonic figures, in places where Goya had none. Not my cup of tea, but interesting in a disconcerting way.

Then we went across the street to the Museo Superior de Bellas Artes Evita Palacio Ferreyra, the former town home of the Ferreyra family. The family is suing the government who appropriated the property a couple years ago in order to turn it into a museum. The family had it up for sale but the government decided they didn't want to pay the asking price. Meanwhile it houses a pretty nice collection of art year-round as well as hosting visiting exhibits. Missed the Picasso exhibition that was showing when we arrived in Argentina. Now they are featuring "Arte Cuzqueño del Siglo XVII", a collection of large religious paintings. I got a kick out of the one called "Santa Maria and the Mosquitos" (or something like that). Sure enough, amidst the flowery roses and elaborate scenery I found mosquitos buzzing around. I like an artist with a sense of humor :-)

Walking a few blocks over toward Paseo del Buen Pastor, we first happened across a really old church, Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de la Orden de los Padres Capuchinos. Do you think the guys in the middle are getting a little tired of holding things up? Inside there are lots of chapels along each side and a ginormous marble altar that kinda reminded me of a fancy wedding cake -- just over the top elaborate. There was a nativity scene set up in one of the chapels and I was amused to see the designer had installed blacktop highways with a yellow dividing line in Bethlehem. Of course the baby Jesus is not in his manger yet. He won't come out until His birthday.

Then we did make it to Paseo del Buen Pastor. Interesting juxtaposition of old, modern, and really old blending together. At night the fountain lights up and the waters "dance". We were intrigued by the metal sculptures scattered throughout, both in the water and along the sidewalks. Especially liked the lifesize woman made out of lots and lots of metal things. She had a cheese grater sticking out of her head and big bolts here and there and looked like a car ramp on her leg...Muy interesante! I wonder if she represents the period of history when this building housed the women's prison? And while all the other old buildings have real marble and fancy schmancy furnishings, this boasted an excessive amount of faux-painting-to-look-like-marble.

The Cathedral in San Martin Plaza is mas grande and features more ceiling painting than I've seen in a good long while. Again, the sides were filled with chapels that were filled with life-size statues of saints. So I wanna know: who is Saint Trousers? Well, his name is really Santa Pantaleon, which in my book is awfully close to pantalones which means trousers. Hey, I take my humor where I can get it! The hubby noticed in front of the church in San Martin Plaza that amongst the beige tiles, there are white ones forming an outline of the church -- sort of "reflecting" the church on the plaza.

The University of Cordoba is OLD. Founded in 1613, the Rectorado (university headquarters) has worn stone tiles, classrooms with really, really old desks, nearly 12 foot tall doors and gates, and walls three feet thick. Very impressive structure! And I'm sure those old stone tiles have seen some action during their (almost) four centuries.

Lunch, and later merienda (afternoon tea), at Patio Olmos allowed us to cool off in the a.c. and enjoy some great food. They have a food court and we bought lunch at a place that had "Verde" in the name which I'm guessing is because they offer mainly salads. I had their hot crepes which were excellent. Spinach crepes filled with more spinach and other vegetables and a little bit of chicken, with a thin layer of white sauce and a dollop of red sauce on top. The hubby let me try his chicken and vegetable hot "salad" which was basically a stir fry only done very quickly so the vegies were still really crunchy. For merienda the three of us shared two desserts and that was just right. By myself I could never have eaten the tarta de frutilla I ordered. And we also tried the torta de frutilla. Which was basically a chocolate cake with strawberries in the middle, dulce de leche on top and a final spread of chocolate ganache. Wickedly rich and good!

Unfortunately we forgot my cell phone, a.k.a. our only camera at the moment. So we weren't able to take any pictures this trip (these photos are from the internet -- probably better than what I could take anyway). I do have some ninja skilz but photography isn't one of them. But I do want to go back and take pictures of some of the floors (tile mosaics and inlaid wood) because I think they'd make interesting quilt designs.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour of downtown Cordoba with me. The End.


Sharon said...

I did enjoy the little tour, very much. Thanks for the mini vacation.
I now need to research the mosquito picture, I am very curious!

Mari said...

Thanks for the tour. I love the old buildings. You are funny - Saint Trouser!

Cindy said...

Hi Kim,
I am popping over from coffeegirl...
I am also a mom of three great adult 'children'. I just wanted you to know that I will be remembering you this Christmas away from your family.
May God's presence be your 'comfort and joy' this Christmas season.

Debbie said...

Wonderful tour. I am tired, but still enjoyed it!

rita said...

What a tour! You can make anything an interesting read!
BTW, San Pantaleón was a médico martyred for his faith. Very interesting, inspiring story: