This weekend I travelled south to visit some friends – teachers who worked in the same village as me during my first year in Spain. The expedition involved spending most of Friday in transit, crashing two nights on a couch, and not making it back to Segovia until late Sunday night… quite the journey for just a casual Saturday lunch. But of course, (and in keeping with the predictably upbeat, possibly saccharine, tone of this blog), it was totally worth it.
The reunion was exactly as I’d hoped and expected*. As for the rest of the weekend, I hadn’t had a chance to give it any thought, so of course it all came as an unlooked for bonus.
The first factor that I hadn’t contemplated was that it would be hot. This stands to reason, Córdoba being a lot further south than Segovia, but didn’t enter my head as I rushedly shoved extra jumpers into my bag before leaving. But better to be too hot than too cold, and my top half (saved by a last minute singlet) spent the weekend bathing in sunny glory…whilst my legs silently roasted in black jeans and long boots.
Secondly, I’d forgotten all about typical Andalusian breakfasts. So good!! Toasted fresh rolls, with (incredible) olive oil and grated tomato, milk coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice…at a relaxed pace, in the aforementioned sun, for only 1.50€. What a way to start the day.
Then of course there were the free tapas, chosen from the menu and not from the bar top (as they are in Segovia, not that I’m complaining). But getting free food a la carte is really something special. Hooray for Andalucía.
But the true highlight was having a whole unexpected Sunday morning in which to indulge. Thanks to daylight saving (and the surprising absence of hangover), I had time to wander the streets, photosynthesise, and finally peruse El Laberinto, a beautiful second hand bookshop that I’ve been wanting to visit for months.
El Labrinto is special for a number of reasons, the first of these being that in the world of antiquarian bookshops, it’s just a baby. Despite the fact that in today’s technology driven, crisis bound economy, longstanding bookstores are struggling to survive, El Laberinto boldly opened in mid 2012 and appears to be thriving. Surprising? Not really, it’s a wonderful store with a prime location (on the riverside), that’s been well thought-out and is clearly well run. The service is knowledgeable, personalised, and considerate (I was even talked in to buying a cheaper book than what I had originally selected, but one that I will hopefully enjoy reading more***). And as well as a range of foreign language books, Spanish classics, and vintage children’s books (of which a colourful abridged version of Don Quijote definitely tempted me), there were many other curious trinkets for sale or on display. A large collection of amusing/beautiful retro postcards (1€), re-printed Civil War facsimiles in zine form (3€), records, scientific specimens, pot plants, and comics.
Unlike many second hand bookstores (and despite the tonnes of books lining the walls and and floor), El Labrinto is well lit, clean and spacious. There’s none one of the hayfever inducing dustiness or back breaking pokiness that normally needs to be endured in this kind of shop. There are plenty of chairs, and customers are invited to sit down and take their time sorting through the contents of the large wooden dining tables. The background music was cool and reason enough to linger, as were the literary quotes that decorated the concrete walls.
So if you’re in Córdoba, and have time (time is important), treat yourself to a leisurely breakfast in the sun (ideally at El Pimentón on the riverside) and then mosey on next door to El Laberinto to pleasantly wile away some hours. But if slow ain’t your style, I’m sure you could still scoot by and pick up a bargain from one of the outdoor 1 – 3€ baskets, without having to think too hard or take off your headphones.
So I’ve checked the forecast and it’ll be warm in the south for the next quite a while. Weird, but it may as well be enjoyed. As for Segovia, bordered by mountains and currently mizzling… well here’s a good place to have plenty of reading material.
*We met up at 2pm and didn’t part ways til after midnight. “Lunch” included plenty of traditional Cordovan food (salmorejo, aceitunas, flamenquín, and garlic garlic garlic), bar hopping (the highlight being The Jazz Bar, if you’re in Córdoba, go there), watching a clásico (Madrid vs Barcelona football match), and seeing a live rock band (long hair and denim, just so you knew they were legit). The only downlight (?) was the post pub grub…if you know the franchise 100 montaditos (100 little bread rolls), and are curious to try the new Spanish fast food sensation**, 100 pizzitas, don’t!
**100 pizzitas, the only fast food in the world that causes you to lose weight …the fuss of the ordering process (and stress of waiting for the hockey puck to buzz), isn’t worth the actual pizzas (which are wafer thin, and all 100 flavours come out looking the same).
*** Instead of El Dorado (a slim paperback with a beautiful cover), I walked away with Ramon J. Sender’s Aventura Equinocial, a novelised version of the same history (in a less glamorous jacket).