Friday, 17 July 2009

First day in Cordoba, 6 July 2009

It was still dark when I arrived in Cordoba at 8.30am. Still dark at 8.30! Crazy eh! And as I stuggled to find a street sign anywhere through my tired and bleary eyes I grabbed a cab and made my way to the Grand Hostel and rolled straight into a bunk bed in a six bed dorm. Before rolling into bed I had enquired about breakfast, and consequently set an alarm for 9.45 so that I could make the most of breakfast before it finished at 10.

I was happy that I had set an alarm for breakfast... it was really good. I had a whole platter of custard and jam pastries before me and there was no one else to share them with. After breakfast I decided to have a shower (the shower at my hostel in Mendoza was horrendous = thanks for that recommendation Pippa and Harri!), and to my delight the shower was the nicest shower I had had since I was in Australia. It was so hot and I actually felt clean again when I got out. Lush.

By this point my room mate (there were only two of us in the six bed dorm, in fact there were only six of us in the 160 bed hostel!) had woken up. Yet again I had bumped into another Ozzie! They get everywhere dem Ozzies.

After we chatted for a while, Petra and I decided that we would spend the day together, we both had a few bits and pieces to do first but we set a time and place to rendezvous.

The girl who had recommended the Grand Hostel to me had also recommended that I take a trek into the Condorito National Park whilst in Cordoba so I headed down to the tourist office to book onto the tour.

In my bestest Spanish i made my enquiry. The guy was very unhelpful... he told me that I would need strong boots, that I needed to be fit, that I needed to be prepared for a hard day of climbing and walking, I would need to carry my own water, and I would have to walk for 8 hours. With this he gave me a pitiful look as if to say ¨You´ve got no chance luv!¨ He also told me the trek cost 200 pesos and that I would need to come back in the afternoon as I would not be able to do the trek myself and no one else had signed up to the trek by this point.

He wasn´t a very good salesman that´s for sure! In fact, I was almost scared off the trip. The girl who recommended the trek to me had told me it cost 120 pesos and that it was quite a pleasant walk. I didn´t know what to do, but I had to head back and meet Petra.

Petra has been living in Buenos Aires for a month doing research for her thesis in International Business, she had come to Cordoba for a break from the city and to do some interviews at a local business. The previous evening a friend of hers who lived in Cordoba had recommended a great flea market, so the two of us headed off to check out the flea market.

We wandered around some dead end streets and eventuallt found the market, but there were no stalls set up! Grrr! Turns out that today was the National Holiday of Cordoba so a lot of things were closed. We wandered in and out of a few incredible Antique Shops and then took a walk along the river, before checking out the Central Plaza and the surrounding area.

I had an instant liking for Cordoba, I already prefered it to Mendoza. The problem with Mendoza, and Bariloche as well, was that to do anything in these cities you had to spend a lot of money. But here was Cordoba, a city that was pleasant enough to just walk around. Every corner had a new suprise, a pretty pink building, some fantastic grafitti, a gorgeous church.

Despite the fact that it was Cordoba´s national holiday, all of the shops were open and all the locals were making the most of the holiday to do their shopping. The shopping centre was rammed.

I returned to the tourist office to see if anyone else had signed up for the trek to the National Park, Petra was keen to join me but didn´t have any appropriate footwear. When I reached the tourist office the man was gone, and instead there was a really nice girl working. She told me that three other people had joined up to the tour and that the trip actually cost 110 pesos. As I signed my life away on some insurance forms she told me not to worry, the walk was really easy. As I handed over the cash the guy walked into the office I smiled at him and gave him a smug ¨Ola¨. He didn´t look happy with the fact that I had joined the tour. He was a very strange man.

Petra and I then came across a bit of a plaza where everyone was sitting around drinking mate. We decided to sit down and chill out in the afternoon sunshine. It was nice to sit around and watch the world go by.

Then, from nowhere the fountain we were sat beside came to life, and, what sounded like the Disney Band struck up a tune. There we were in the middle of a fountain display to music. It was so dramatic in a Fantasia=esque style and everyone stopped to watch as they passed by.

Once the Disney had died down we made our way to the supermarket to buy some food so we could cook up a treat for dinner.

I had had a great day exploring Cordoba and I had a good feel for the next few days. I hadnçt really planned how long I was going to spend in the city, but with a great shower, a lush hostel, fab free brekkie, and good weather I could feel myself already wanting to spend a fair amount of time here.

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