Starbird Travelogue, Part 3

by Kate Starbird
Special to the Fever Website

Fever guard Kate Starbird tells of her winter break journey through the south of Spain over the recent holidays. Playing overseas this offseason alongside Fever teammate Jenni Benningfield in Madrid, Starbird ventured for a week through Sevilla, Malaga, Granada and Cordoba. A former Academic All-American at Stanford and the daughter of an accomplished author, Margaret Starbird, Kate agreed to share her travelogue with the Fever website. This is the last of three parts of her journey.

The earlier days of Starbird's journey revealed the colorful banos, or baths, in Sevilla - just one of the beautiful photos captured during the week-long excursion.
By the time we arrived in Cordoba, on the 27th, we'd been traveling for over a week, punch-drunk from constant re-rooting. I finally put my guidebook away. We followed the first sign we saw to a hostal, the Hostal Maestre, which turned out to be the best one of our trip. Afterwards, we aimlessly roamed the streets, finding unpredicted marvels at every turn. Patios open for public viewing hid back along side streets, full of flowers, somehow, at the end of December.

Though still a bit cold, the grey and brown of Granada had given way, once again, to the typical blue and orange of southern Spain. The Mudejar towers of Cordoba's great cathedral stood proud and bright against a clear sky.

The Mezquite Cathedral is exactly what its name implies, a structure of two opposing forces, a physical manifestation of Spain's mixed history of Moorish and Christian rule. The original structure, a 8th century mosque, was built during the era of Arab rule on the site of a shared Christian-Muslim church. Eight centuries later, after much further development as a mosque and then later as a Christian site, the center of the building was ripped out and replaced by a monstrous cathedral.

The contrast, outside and within, is striking. The styles both blend and compete with each other throughout. Beautiful Mudejar pillars and arches, decorated in stripes of red and white and set out in open air, now struggle beneath the oppressive weight of a dark and imposing Catholic Church. The image of a crucified Jesus hangs on a wall within a maze of them. I couldn't help wondering about the state of mind of a person who can kneel for worship in a room built to another people's god.

The Mezquite was a fitting end to our journey, the culmination of our lessons in the architecture and history of southern Spain. On our way out, we passed through the orange tree orchard where Muslim worshippers once made their ablutions before entering the Mosque. We hardly noticed the trees, but I won't say they didn't make an impression.

We caught the bus back to Madrid. It took four and a half hours, but saved us each about 50 euros against a train ticket. We compared notes on the journey and flipped through the pictures on our digital cameras. I finally forgave Alex for all the time she spent setting up that darn tripod. Her photos were amazing.

Then we laughed about our outfit choices every morning - which order for the layers, as we were each wearing every stitch of clothing we'd brought. I went over in my mind, one more time, the events of the purse-snatching we had witnessed in Cordoba, and questioned myself if I could have done anything to help.

Back to Madrid, with the iPod and a book to pass the time.
Finally, we both flipped our trusty iPods back on and drifted off to sleep to our personal play-lists.

Now I'm back in Madrid and back to the daily grind (right!), trying to work-off everything I consumed in those 9 days ... the cammebert empanadas, meats dripping in oil, red peppers, bacalao (cod), Cola Cao (chocolate milk), cappuccinos, copas (baby-sized beers), house riojas, Middle Eastern hookahs, cous-cous, hummus, lomo and roquefort, mussels and sausage, tapas and raciones ...