My next stop after Barcelona was Cordoba. I knew that there were a few different trains that ran between the cities, one being the faster and more expensive AVE. I decided to take the longer, cheaper, overnight train. To book my ticket, I just went to the station one day early to make my reservation. I would recommend doing that rather than trying to figure out the online system. There was a train that left at night and was supposed to arrive the next morning at 7AM. It actually ended up arriving four hours late due to major rain, but it worked out just fine as it put my in Cordoba at a perfect time to look for my next hotel. The AVE takes 5 hours, but I figured it would waste an entire afternoon, as well as money. The AVE is around 140 Euros, but by taking the overnight for 80 I also didn’t have to pay for a hotel.
To book the ticket, you can just go to the nearest station and book for any day. The catch with this is that it has to be a station where there are actual ticket attendent booths and not just ticket machines. I found this out the hard way. I initially tried to go to the station at Plaza Catalunya, where they informed me that I needed to go to the station at Passeig de Gracia, which luckily was just a five minute walk away. I had heard that the train system was confusing, and it certainly was. I guess the way it works is that Renfe operates many trains, both local and long distance, but you can only buy the long distance tickets at the stations where they have ticket attendants, which they don’t have at the Catalunya station. It is also worth noting that the long distance trains only leave from certain stations, and Plaza Catalunya is not one of them. The station that mine left from was Barcelona Sants, which was just a quick ride away. Even this was confusing, as it looked like by the map that both the metro and and the train went there from Plaza Catalunya, and I would have assumed the metro would be quicker, but after a few difficult to understand conversations, I figured out that I just needed to buy a 1 Euro train ticket, and then I was on my way to the Barcelona Sants station.
So despite the fact that my overnight train to Cordoba ended up being nearly four hours late and really messed with my ability to get a decent night’s sleep, it worked out well because arriving so early would have made it difficult to find a room. Upon arrival, I took a local bus which dropped me in the center of town. Using my Lonely Planet Spain guide, I found a room at a placed called Hostal Maestre for 30 euros per night. The room was small but it had a toilet and shower and was all I needed. Don’t be confused, the Lonely Planet guide reviews the hotel, but actually the hotel is more expensive and it’s the hostal next door where I stayed. Not a youth hostel, but just a no frills version of the hotel.
As it turns out, I really liked Cordoba. In the center of the old part of town is Cordoba’s Mezquita the world famous Unesco Heritage Site, which was quite impressive. Though it is touristy, it is certainly worth the 8 (or 10, I can’t remember) euros to go inside and see the impressive arches and interior. Also impressive are the Gardens in the Alcazar nearby. Once again, you have to pay to go in, but it is worth it.
It seems the majority of the tourist action surrounds the Mezquita, but if you head north you will find yourself in the a more modern part of the city. Aside from the few touristy things, I mainly just wandered around, spent some time enjoying tapas, beer, and coffee, hung out in the internet cafe at the youth hostel that I found, and really enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere in comparison to Barcelona, the tiny meandering streets, and the beautiful patios and courtyards that where everything I had heard about.
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Originally posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008 at 9:48 PM .