Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Hello!! I can’t believe I haven’t posted in a week, so sorry but it’s been exam week here so we’ve been pretty busy. I have so much to catch you all up on. However, I’m going to try to not make this a ridiculously long post (yeaa right)
Last Thursday was beautiful out and I was headed to my History of Spain class very sad that I would be sitting in an insane asylum-white classroom for the next hour and a half with a teacher that I could barely understand. (Please take note that this is the teacher I said talks like Fronk) Plus, he writes all over the board in literally no order, then draws arrows to different points and I have NO idea how his brain works. So in a desperate attempt to escape, I half-heartedly suggested that we take a fieldtrip. He asked me where might I recommend that we go and I answered all over because the history of Spain is right here! (Uber gay answer but cut me some slack I wanted out) And to my surprise, along with that of my other 5 classmates, he said “vale.” Which means ok! So we headed out to the sunshine! I was hurriedly preparing destinations for us incase he asked but to no avail because Reda was waking with a purpose. The first leg of our tour consisted of his favorite book store which used to be a theater and has since been transformed into a really cool collection of books but still looks like a theater so there are book shelves on the stage and in the balcony where there used to be seating. (Mom you would have loved it! I’m bummed I didn’t have my camera.)
We were only there for a few short minutes and in fear that we were leaving to go back to school I threw out that we should visit a historical little church near by but was quickly shot down with no hesitation whatsoever as he said “Maybe later. I know where we’re going.” You can imagine then, my utter shock and amazement as I watched him meander through the streets with his little gaggle of geese only to make a sharp left into a… bar. Laura and I looked at each other like wait, is this a joke? The story would have been good enough if it stopped there but oh no, it gets better. The place was hopping because it was the time of day people close shop to nap or grab a beer and clearly these folks had opted for the latter. When Reda asked us what we wanted to drink we all just kinda stood there until he said come, what do you want cerveza (beer)? Some girls looked unsure but for me the answer was easy. Si por favor! When in my life am I going to get to have a beer with my professor?! Others soon had the same epiphany and we sat and enjoyed our beer, purchased by our professor and talked about how studying abroad is really more about experiencing the culture. I was only halfway listening because I was just enjoying the moment and the reality that this was actually really happening. (Dad, I felt like you had just handed us all sugar sandwiches and mom was due home any minute haha) Needless to say I have a whole new appreciation for this teacher and I truly think I will enjoy his classes (I have 3 with him) so much more now! Especially because I got to know him beyond the classroom and now obtain the knowledge that he has a wife, no children and 3 cats one of which is named cookie ☺
Wow. This turned out better than I thought it would. I'm going to frame it.
Later that afternoon we decide to head to the river for a little wine, cards and sunshine. This is definitely going to become a habit of ours and I predict that we become total hippies that just lounge around, read, listen to music and play cards or guitar (Katrina wants to buy one) all while barefoot and in big sunglasses. I can’t waaiittt!!
The weekend in Seville was rainy and cold so we didn’t really do much. Thursday night we ended up meeting some local Spanish guys and ended up going to a bar with them. I guess preppy Spaniards are called “pijos” because that is what Katrina called them. It was refreshing to find somewhat normal Spanish guys. Even though I could barely communicate with them but we had sooo much fun! The bar they took us to was this little place we would have never found and Laura and I got our palms read by this 30 year old creeper who later tried to kiss me goodbye on the mouth. NOT ok.. and don’t worry, I didn’t let him ☺ but the palm reading was interesting because it was clearly completely made up and just an attempt at a pick up line so it was much like watching a train wreck. Guys think they’re so sneaky… I am absolutely certain that my broken Spanish was terrible and a complete joke but the guys were pretty patient with me and I found myself wracking my brain for more words that I knew and could somehow incorporate. We then went to “Boss” which is supposed to be this super selective club or discoteca I guess and we were excited when we all got in but once we surveyed the place we realized we were let in because no one was here.. hah We didn’t really care though and managed to dance the night away all the same! Successful night with Spanish guys! Go us!
Trina with a few of the guys at the little Spanish bar
Friday it was raining more so we tried to run a few errands and do a bit of shopping for our Carnaval costumes. Time out. I guess I should explain what Carnaval is (or what I thought it was until I experienced it). Carnival is 11 days worth of a crazy carnival. Approximately 1 and a half million people come for this every year and it is the 3rd largest Carnaval celebration in the world. So you see now why we haddd to go but not for 11 days, only Saturday night. It is somewhat similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. People dress up, more so like Halloween, and drink and party until the wee hours of the morn. This takes place is Cadiz which is in Southern Spain and on a beach. Thus, my visual was of people dressed up, drinking and dancing on a beach. With this picture in mind I was originally thinking something cute like a toga but when we saw it was supposed to be cold and rainy I rearranged my thoughts. I needed something I could wear with layers!
So, in true “me” fashion I waited until Saturday afternoon to get my outfit and I had no idea what I wanted. (I honestly tried to shop earlier but stores close smack in the middle of the day for siesta, which lasts like 4 hours or something ridiculous, and I haven’t realized the extent to how annoying that can be until I was on a mission for an item) Laura and Tricia found these pretty ugly jean overall things and decided they were going to make something out of those but Trina and I continued on our journey and eventually found actual costumes. We dug through Spanish versions of hippies, Snow White, kings, queens etc (all of which look pretty similar to the cheap costumes we have in the states) and our hopes were diminishing. Not only was the variety slim, but also the prices were ridiculous. Then on our way downstairs (every store has at least 3 floors here) we caught site of the children’s section. Bingo! Katrina found an angel costume and low and behold I found… The Virgin Mary. It was 7 euros and would go quite well if we said Katrina was the angel Gabriel. I was struggling with the sacrilegious aspect of it until I watched a family with a 4-year-old daughter grab the same costume. (In hindsight I’m not sure how or why this gave me comfort since I am neither 4, nor was this little girl going to a huge drunken party in the costume, but for some reason at the time, it did) So we purchased them and headed home!
Excited about the humor in our costumes and giddy for the night ahead we were all in good moods. Tricia and Laura got these ridiculous wigs and they looked great! However, when I slipped in to my “Maria” costume all was not well. I appeared to be wearing a huge blue potato sack while having a toothache. The white sash that was supposed to be draped over my head was only wide enough to cover the top of my head, not the back of it, so when I wrapped it around it looked like I just had a strip of cloth there to hold some ice on my face. Nootttt ok. So I made the quick decision to alter some aspects of the costume. I tucked in the long blue sleeves so they were puffed up at my shoulders, used my white wrap as a sash around my waist, poofed my hair, pulled it into a bun, put a headband and some big pearl earrings in and viola; Cinderella! It might have been a bit of a stretch but what else is a girl to do with a blue dress? Plus, Katrina could be my fair godmother! I felt loads better with my altered outfit especially because it avoided the awkwardness of me appearing to be an intoxicated mother of Jesus later. Seriously, what was I thinking?
Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother. Such a pair
It was an hour and a half bus ride to Cadiz and we had all decided not to drink beforehand. We had a long night ahead of us because we wouldn’t be on the bus home until about 6 am so we figured we would have enough time to fully enjoy ourselves when we got there. When we arrived in Cadiz it was mayhem. We got off the bus and were handed sandwiches (we went through a travel company and it was part of the deal and oh what a deal it was) and 2 shots. After, the bus pulled away we were left staring at a street full of people dressed like everything imaginable and they all seemed to be heading towards one direction. It was kinda creepy but the shots were settling in and we were excited by the energy so we jumped into the sea of people and traveled down stream with everyone to some big plaza. Here people were singing, dancing, climbing poles, climbing up on little stages that were sporadically placed for no good reason other than to have drunk people climb them and fall off, drinking, yelling, singing and ultimately just doing an array of wonderfully odd things. The streets were actually decorate with lights, garland etc so clearly the city is supportive of the festivities.
Us with some new friends?
The costumes were just insane. I don’t even know how to describe the assortment I saw. The biggest shock was the amount of men dressed like women, and I mean like completely dressed in heels, make up, everything, not just the dresses! Lots of people did group themes and there were groups of chickens, firefighters, dwarfs (saw 1 real one), lots of Sponge Bobs, flowers, clowns, giant babies, penguins (Blake I thought of you of course, although I am 100% positive you don’t read my blog son get with the program), probably one of my favorites were the mops that were running around. Hilarious! Oh and of course there was an Avatar, but that’s a given…
Nick and Trina make friends fast :)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea... Some weird Spaniards!
Our baby with some big babies
Literally all ages here folks
Unreal. Please click on this image to blow it up. Frightening
Stage full of weird people singing? Hey, is that the pope?
The mops. Look at 'em in action! My favorite!
My second favorite.. :)
Ok wait, it might be a tie. Lipstick on cig there buddy? Pretty sure that's a check!
As far as what we did for the night I am honestly not quite sure I could tell you but here is what I believe took place; we wandered around, listened to an odd band on one of the big stages, drank from the water bottles we stashed in our purses like we were in high school, watched lots of weird Spaniards, met lots of weird Spaniards, laughed at lots of weird Spaniards, had to use the street as a bathroom (my least favorite part of the night… Seriously gross but luckily we came prepared with toilet paper!), ventured into a bar at one point, bought a baked potato for 7 euros (we’re idiots) on which the vender put corn, carrots, ketchup and loads of other stuff on this thing and we ate them in all their gross glory, danced, climbed up the very stages I had made note not to climb up on, took my hair out of it’s bun, wondered where the beach was, drank some more and froze our butts of waiting for the bus that we boarded in a happy haze of drunken joy. I slept for part of the ride and woke up to talk to Laura as we were pulling into Sevilla. Everyone around us looked so funny sleeping in their costumes and I laughed and pointed for awhile until I realized only moments ago I looked the very same.
This was captured by friends of ours who were just taking a picture of the weird people on the stage and.. it ended up being us. All time low or all time high?
Close up on the mini-stage. Please take note of all of our faces.
After hailing a cab and sleep walking into our rooms we slid into our beds as the sun was rising. It was a pretty odd sensation to watch the world waking up as we were falling asleep. When we did manage to rise from the dead Katrina and I voted on some Domino’s pizza. So around 3 pm we headed next door (Domino’s is literally right next door to our building which played a large role in how we decided where to eat) and used a coupon (the other solidifying factor) to split a pizza and 2 coca lights. It was the most romantic little lunch. The rest of the evening consisted of flashes of memories from the night before where we would all laugh at whoever had the recollection. Katrina and I met some friends of ours, Melanie, Mindy and Hanna for Hanna’s birthday dinner which was really good! They even got her a cake and we sang happy birthday and everything! It was lots of fun.
Happy Birthday Han! And thanks for all the pics Mel :)
However, when they were going to head out for a night of more drinking, Trina and I had to head home to start studying for our exams.. boo. It was drizzling and we each had our umbrellas, full bellies, and the taste of chocolate cake on our lips as we slowly picked our way home through the puddles in no real hurry to reach our destination. I then realized the date and, never being a fan of February 14th, it dawned on me that I had actually genuinely loved every part of it! That never happens! So I promptly wished Trina a Happy Valentine’s Day because it was exactly that, a very happy one. I was in Spain with some of my best friends and we were having the absolute times of our lives. This had to be my favorite V-day in a long time and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world ☺
Today is February 17th. What does that mean to you? My half birthday of course! I cannot believe my mom is the only one that has wished me a happy half birthday.. Seriously come on people I call you my friends?! haha... Clearly I'm kidding! Really weird though that from now on I will be closer to 22. This is actually an upsetting reality and I am truly not enjoying the feeling. Can we start college over please? Today is also the start of Lent and I have decided to give up America. Makes sense right? What doesn't make sense is that I'm also giving up clean laundry, clean sheets, a clean body and toilet paper... Vicki is teaching us what it is like to go camping while living in an apartment. So sweet...
Tomorrow is my last exam and then we leave for Madrid for the weekend and I'm really excited! There is actually a good sized group of us going from school and we leave tomorrow at 4 which means we have to take our suitcases to school and go straight to the bus stop. Therefore, we need to start packing tonight and as of right now, none of us have done so... I'm sure I'll have some interesting posts to come though! Love you all!
I thought I would leave you with this image in hopes that if you were ever feeling too jealous of my time here in Spain remember that I experienced this in person and you might count your blessings. You're welcome.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The weekend was absolutely beautiful here in Seville. Not only did the weather more than cooperate by giving us loads of warm sunshine with the occasional cool breeze to cool us down, but we got to see so much more of this fantastic city!
The lack of sleep in Granada really caught up with me during the week and I was trying hard to fight off the inevitable cold. So when Friday rolled around and the school was offering a day trip to Aracena I decided to pass in order to sleep in. Laura opted to sleep and explore the city with me while Katrina and Tricia headed out at 8 am to see more of Spain! While I was sad that I wasn’t going with them and missing a cheap trip, I was ridiculously happy to sleep till noon!
Laura and I asked Vicki for some sandwiches and then headed out in the beautiful weather. We walked with no exact desired location but meandered through the streets and we ended up stumbling upon the church we can see from our balcony. I was actually probably a little too excited to find it because it was quite small inside but I have been trying to picture the inside of my “glowing distant church” for weeks! It didn’t appear to be equipped for actual mass any longer but was used for more of a museum. Get this, it’s called the San Luis church. A coincidence? I think not.. ☺
San Luis Church
The dome part we can see so perfectly from our balcony
Calle Constitucion (Constitution Street) where the metro link tracks are
Forging on through the streets we made our way towards one of the main roads which we followed down until we reached this pretty little fountain that I have yet to find the name of, and we decided to set up camp. We found a bench, pulled out our sandwiches and literally sat in silence while we ate, caught some rays, people watched and soaked up our incredible surroundings. Let me tell you, ham and cheese taste better in the sunshine.
My view during lunch
The tram that I am amazed people do not get hit by.. In America people most definitely would, and then sue the state...
After our long lunch we met up with our friends Mindy and Hanna who had also chosen to stay put in Seville, and we decided some ice cream was in need. So while enjoying our sweet, cold treat we wandered down following the monorail tracks to the Plaza de Espana which was constructed in 1929 when Seville hosted the Spanish-American Exhibition and showcases beautiful “Moorish” or Islamic type architecture. It was kind of undergoing some street repairs so I tried to get a shot around the machinery. By the way construction is EVERYWHERE. There is literally always someone fixing the sidewalks and streets and with the way the streets still look no one should be out of a job! (Interesting fact: the unemployment rate in Spain is worse than it was in American during the great depression.) Back on track though; we sat in the plaza for a while right on the edge of the center fountain just people watching and soaking up the sun. Then we realized we were becoming fixtures in everyone’s pictures of the fountain so we decided not make it in any photo albums and walk to the park.
Check the rainbow please. Only an excellent photographer would be able to catch such an image
The plaza with crazy tourists.. So annoying to us locals.
Maria Louisa Park is not the type of park I was used to. I’m thinking swings, maybe a pond and a gazebo? No, this was a sprawling landscape of everything imaginable. Including statues, ponds, tropical jungle-like trees, ducks, peacocks, fantastic tile worked pathways and benches, lots of little gazebos, fountains, bridges, main roads for biking, rollerblading, skateboarding or carriage rides, restaurants, adorable children I have to refrain from stealing, and most importantly, weird people. Everyone is interesting. Whether they have blue hair, or no hair and are rubbing their bald partner’s head, everyone is doing something interesting or at least wearing something interesting.
Notttt a wig.
A jean purse.. A jurse if you will?
Straight from the tropics
This bridge was begging for some Senior Pics
I am truly unsure of the amount of time we spent in the park but when the sun started to head towards the river we decided we should to. We followed the river for a bit until we came to the conclusion that we needed a drink. As fate would have it there was a little place out on a dock (the whole ground of the little cafe moved with the waves) so we grabbed a table and a few beers to enjoy the last few hours of sunshine with. To continue this fateful happening our friend Mark (a fellow tiger studying in Seville) was walking past and came down to hang for a while. We watched the kayaking people on the river and even watched 2 guys play a basketball type game in kayaks where they bounce the ball on their paddles? It was crazy!
Our little dock
When we started to get chilly we headed for home where Laura and I were happy to see the other halves of our rooms waiting. They had a great trip and we swapped stories of the day. We got ready (painfully because we all had to take showers one right after the other so warm water was greatly missed) then met with a big group to decide which tapas place should receive our business. We ended up splitting up into smaller groups and 5 of us found ourselves at this really cute little place for some sangria and “dinner,” which we are still all shocked at the small portions we receive, but it was reall good!
After dinner we ventured across the river to meet up with some more friends of our in our program. We went to “Calle Betis” which is actually just a street where there are lots of bars and ended up having an impromptu bar crawl. We traveled all the way down the street popping into every bar on the way for a 1 euro, or free if we could manage (which we did frequently thanks to Katrina ☺) shot of tequila. Once we reached the end, we made our way back down the street and really just had a blast. I might have had a bit too much fun and am sad to report that tequila and were not friends by the end of the night. Or status now is sill rocky but we might make up soon so stay tuned.
Saturday proved to give us much hope for the future weather of our current home because once again it was bright, warm and beautiful out. Katrina and I rose a little later than Tricia and Laura but when our stomachs started talking there was no way we could deny that we needed to wake up. We met Trish and Lo down by the same fountain Laura and I had eaten by the day before except we were not going to choke down a Vicki-made sandwich. The place we went was actually really cheap and Trina and I were completely European while ordering our “Coca Lights” … and hamburgers haha
With some substance in our bellies Laura and I were excited to show the other girls our discovery from the previous day and lead them into the Maria Louisa park. They were equally as amazed and it was funny the sense of pride I had in showing it to them. Like, I played no role in constructing this ancient park nor did I even find it on my own but still I couldn’t help but say “Look over here,” or “Right down there is this really cool fountain.” Embarrassing that I’m admitting this? Possibly. Surprised that I’m treating this blog like a diary entry periodically? You can’t honestly answer yes…
Me and my rooms
I mentioned that one of my favorite aspects of the park was that the people were always doing or wearing something interesting. In hindsight I now realize that we definitely fit into both categories. We were wearing ‘weird’ American clothes and were playing ‘weird’ American games. First we started just playing the “Humming Game” where one person starts humming a song and the others have to try to guess it. Then we upgraded to charades, which was highly entertaining. Tricia is phenomenal and I almost peed my pants laughing so hard at her and her enthusiasm. It was soooooooooo much fun. Although we were off a main road and in our own little area of the park we still had people stopping to watch us and I finally became aware of the fact that we were the weird foreigners doing really weird things in public. It was the first time I have felt empathy for the Asians in Columbia. (Sorry Paige!!!) I mean, how crazy must we have looked from an outsider’s perspective? However, I honestly did not care. I wasn’t going to see these people again and they couldn’t even understand what we were saying so why act docile on a warm sunny day in Spain? Once I reached that reality I had a completely different mindset it was actually a ridiculously freeing thing. To not have the restrictions of social normalcy and to not even know the language in which you could be corrected in was almost blissful. Not sure I can describe it but it is oddly a feeling I think everyone should experience at least once in his or her life.
Where we were sitting playing charades
Can you guess what movie this is?
Ok, again, sorry for the diary entry… We ended up finding our friend Nick strolling through the park with his iPod in singing and doing a little dance. I wish I was kidding you but that was exactly what he was doing. We were following him but he had no idea and we were dying laughing at how he was “swaggering and singing.” When he finally caught sight of us he took out his earphones and explained how he didn’t know anyone so why should he care if they thought he was weird for singing and dancing. See.. I’m not alone in my theory! However, I’m not sure I would have the guts to actually sing and dance like that in public.. haha
We decided we needed a jolt and all voted on some coffee. There was this little outdoor café next to the Plaza de Americana where you can feed the pigeons and they swarm around you and even land on your head! We were not feeling up for that type of adventure, plus Laura is afraid of birds so we just ordered our coffee and sat at a table far from the craziness. I remembered I had a pack of cards in my purse (from Chaminade Prom.. haha) and it was a perfect realization. We sat and played cards while drinking coffee until the sun was setting and it could not have been better.
Walking home from the park we were trying to plan the night and in an effort to safe time and money decided to dart into a grocery store and have a makeshift dinner. So dinner Saturday night consisted of a loaf of bread, cream cheese and wine. What more could you really ask for? The wine we found was literally like 82 cents and came in a “super-sized juice box form.” It was the best purchase I have made at this point. So cheap, so convenient to travel with as long as you find a straw and it proceeded to allow us to have a great time!
In our “save money” mindset we decided to consume lots of wine in hopes to refrain from spending 8 euros on mixed drinks at the bars. This proved to be both a good and bad strategy. Tricia and Laura headed home early but Trina and I hit the town with some other friends going across the bridge to Triana (just another name for a part of Seville) back to “Calle Betis” to a Flamenco bar where we danced the limited Flamenco we learned in the one class we took. It was really fun. Then we walked back across the bridge quite a ways away to some “local dance club” where we were immediately turned down solely due to the fact that we were Americans. Talk about discrimination! Katrina and I refused to end the night on such a note so we set out for our favorite discoteca, Buddha! Granted at this point, with our late start it was around 4 AM.. Woohoo!! I finally went out like a Spaniard! On the downside, with all that traveling we had walked off any hope of whatever buzz we had acquired and realized we were far too sober to be at a discoteca at 4 AM. However, on the way out Katrina was literally prancing down the stairs and somehow missed the last step which cannon-bolted her onto her knees where she picked up momentum and slid onto the middle of the dance floor. I watched this happen in slow motion and literally saw a guy point and say “Noooo waaay!” I was torn between wanting to run and help her up and asking who is that girl? Luckily before I had time to react though, Trina had hopped up and scampered on back down the next flight of stairs… Unreal. So, what is a girl to do? Why grab McDonalds and head home of course! There is a “McDonald Express,” which is basically a drive through window that you can walk up to, right outside of Buddha and Trina and I tried to order chicken nuggets but were served chicken sandwiches with lettuce and BBQ sauce on them? We ate them all the same though.. (Maybe we weren’t as sober as we thought?) All in all it was a great night!
Sunday we woke up and barely pulled ourselves together for mass. We slid in a few minutes late and feeling bad but glad it was still the opening song. I was surprised at how few people were at this mass. Since we went back to the same church as last time and before it was very crowded with kids bouncing balls and playing I expected the same size crowd. There weren’t any balls this time but there were quite a few people who had congregated in the back of the church and were not attempting to be quiet while chatting. I could barely hear the priest (who am I kidding, even if I could hear him I would have no idea what he was saying but you get the point) because the rumble of chit-chat was so loud. I was trying very hard to refrain from turning around but after 15 minutes I finally caved and turned to get a quick glance in. Man was I surprised to see the majority of the pews behind me filled! I guess everyone really does run on a later schedule here. Which might actually mean I’m early more? This could be quite nice ☺
After church we went to the river. It was not nearly as nice as the past two days had been but it was still nice enough. We brought a few snacks, our wine juice boxes, my deck of cards and the blanket Katrina bought for 3 euros. What a great bargain right? We were really happy about the blanket and then when we unfolded it we saw why it was on sale. It had a big outline of a dog on it and it said Pro Life. The 2 images separately would have been fine, but together they made for an odd pair. Pro Life for dogs?? What, don't spay your dog? Haha Our other Mizzou friends came to join us along with their friend Lauren from California who was really nice. We had a great time talking about our experiences so far and the families we live with. It was Jack’s birthday so I had to refrain from singing Happy Birthday to him and almost burst into song about 5 times but managed to hold back. He should consider that his birthday present. Mark lives with one old lady, Concha and they seem like a perfect little fit. Together their average age is probably about 58 and they enjoy watching Spanish game shows together. Fate?
Back at the ranch we were all anxiously awaiting a good meal. Thus, you can imagine our disappointment when we were finally fed at 10 PM to find a plate of spinach and garbanzo beans… What a joke. We then went back to our rooms to dig up some other source of nutrition before calling it a night. At least we got a few laughs out of it! I can’t wait for the warm weather to settle in and we can spend more time outside. It was an awesome weekend and I was so happy with everything that we did. We had long full days filled with quality time and I couldn’t feel more blessed. I feel like every time I feel like things can’t get better, they do. My life is just absolutely unbelievable ☺ All my Spanish love!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I can’t believe it is already February and tomorrow will mark 3 weeks since we arrived! I also cannot believe the weekend we had. It was absolutely incredible. If you ever have the chance definitely check out Granada. Here is a basic rundown of what we did:
We woke up early on Friday because yes indeed we still needed to pack. We were frantically throwing whatever we thought we might need in our bags while running into each other and holding our heads. We then realized we were packing too much and had to go back through our bags to decided what we really needed which only caused our headaches to increase. We somehow managed to make it out the door but did not leave enough time to walk all the way there so we had to take a taxi. (There was honestly no way we were going to walk with those bags even if we did have time!) Of course finding where the bus was parked was a huge hassle but when we finally sat down in our big blue bus we were all ready for a siesta. However, this was not an easy task and it should have been with the night we had! We went to this really fun little bar for huge mojitos that were delicious and a big group of our friends from school were there. From there we headed to Buddha our favorite disco-techa to dance the night away! Needless to say we were all suffering the next morning, but at least we were suffering together!
Once we arrived in Granada we had a little time to put our bags down, grab a much-needed coffee and then nose around for a few minutes before we were off for a walking tour. Luckily the coffee kicked in a bit because the walk was more of a hike. We climbed this enormous hill to finally reach St. Nicholas Plaza that overlooks the city. It was absolutely unbelievable. We were all huffing and puffing and taking our coats off but the minute I saw that view it literally stopped me in my tracks. The pictures really do not do it justice. It was truly one of those moments where time stops and you are completely aware of the how big the world is and what a little role you play in it. We stayed there for actually quite awhile, although I’m honestly not sure how long we were there, I am completely certain that I could have stayed longer.
It's the climb (preferably sung by Miley Cyrus)
A group of my friends
I know, I know. With all the beautiful views why am I taking a picture of the ground? But it was soo cool! :)
Rays of golden light
There were “gypsies” everywhere just milling about, playing with their dogs although you couldn’t tell which dog belonged to which gypsy because they just run around barking before they wander off then wander back. (This description applies to both dogs and gypsies) I could not identify one dog/gypsy pair. If they weren’t playing with their dogs, or their friend’s dogs, they were selling jewelry, drinking, playing with their dreadlocks or mullets, riding bikes dangerously close to you before swerving away or my all-time favorite playing guitar and singing. I watched one dog pee on the guitar case and moments later someone was holding it in their lap. Then again, hygiene isn’t too big for them. However, when they started playing guitar and signing it was actually really cool. One of the guides in our group, Benni, was explaining to me how they improv the lyrics and sing about their life and then another person will just jump in and sing about their life in comparison, contrast or similarity. It’s like a story or conversation and I was really bummed I couldn’t understand it but I suppose it allowed me to be more in awe. After the mini concert we headed back home to get ready for the evening. Walking down the hill was much nicer.
Gypsy (why'a you shrink'a this woman? - Borat, come on people)
Singing under the cross
Walking back down
The whole group that went to Granada
View on the way down
Needing a second jolt mid-day we chose ice cream :)
We got to take nice long hot showers in a full size bath, not our tiny square, and we got to get a fresh towel! It really is the little things in life isn’t it? ☺ Then for dinner we went downstairs for literally a 3 course meal that was delicious and we scarfed it down in pure delight! We then went back up to our room to play some cards and drink a bit before heading out with the group for the night’s festivities. We didn’t really have our “game faces” on because we were soo tired from the night before but we enjoyed the bar we went to. Knowing we had beds with fresh sheets waiting for us we couldn’t resist heading home at a decent hour, especially because we had to be up at 7:45 for breakfast the next morning and we were NOT missing a free breakfast…
Playing cards and having a drink in our room
My only picture from the first night out
Our HUGE room!!! My bed is the single one on the right :) With the bag and clothes on it of course..
Our balcony and yes I pulled that chair over to the windows to people watch. People watching is my best sport. I'm so athletic
View from our balcony
Good morning Granada!
Saturday proved to be another amazing day starting off with a great breakfast that included coffee and juice! (we realized the other day all we basically drink is water or alcohol..) We boarded our blue bus and headed for the Alhambra! I wish I had more knowledge on the history of the palace, gardens, cathedral and fortress that make up the Alhambra before hand because the weight of all that history probably would have sunk in a bit more but it was still quite the experience. Alhambra literally means “red fortress” and it is undecided as to why it is called that. Some say it is because the building really is a reddish-clay (the most popular theory) while others say a ruler at one time had a name meaning red or translated into red. I’m not quite sure, all I know is that it was one of the last creations during the Islamic rule in Spain before the Christians took over. It was “lost” for a period of time and was only discovered as a place of pride and importance in the 19th century, 5 centuries after its creation. It was literally inhabited by gypsies before the pride in the Islamic culture was acknowledged and reinstated as a rightful place of historic honor. There were 4 checkpoints through out the day where you HAD to have your ticket or you could not continue on the walking tour. (So of course we tried to sneak steal each others for fun) We definitely could not have organized all of this without the school/travel agency’s help and I’m so glad we didn’t try to do this one alone because we would have missed so much! The artwork, architecture and decorations were unbelievable and the ornate details compared to none that I have ever seen. I mentioned that I wish we could see it in all of its lush glory of the warm weather but Benni quickly denounced that by saying we would literally melt if we came when it was warmer. So I sucked it up and enjoyed the sights for what they were. The best part was when we got to look out at the city and we could see the plaza that we had stood not even 24 hours earlier looking at the very place we were now standing. The valley in between the two locations is filled with white-washed homes and buildings and the feeling that you were in a place of importance was not lost on me. I could go on forever but the pictures will have to speak for themselves ☺
Any few minutes we could find in the warm sunshine we took! It was collddd!
After our 3 hour tour..(a 3 hour tour. Please tell me you get the Gilligan reference) we went in search for some lunch. A place was suggested by our guides but it was basically a seafood buffet and we decided to pass and boy am I glad we did. We got bocadillos (sandwiches) for 2.50 and because I had my water bottle I didn’t even have to pay for a drink! So savvy ☺ Then we went back for a little siesta and hung out a bit with the boys who had the room right next to us. We could go out on our balconies and wave at one another but that would have been a huge waste of time (although we definitely did this) because the view from our balcony was incredible. We looked out to a busy street right on a fountain and when you swiped your eyes towards the distance you could see the mountains covered in snow. Some people were comparing it to Colorado and I could definitely see that.
The fountain at night. Soo pretty
For dinner that night we headed out for tapas with the group but had to split up into groups of ten with each guide. We were lucky enough to split into the perfect group consisting of all of our friends and we had a great time. The special at the bar we went to was “buy a beer get a tapa for free.” Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? We were happy though and Benni, our guide, had to buy us all shots after losing a game of “get the paper ball into the cup.” We got honey rum shots and they were really good! I couldn’t help but think of Harry Potter and “butterbeer.” (Paige we totally would have ordered a huge class of the honey rum and cheers’d to a Gryffindor win) Yes, I’m aware that I am a huge nerd. More embarrassingly so, it was not the first Harry reference for me of the day because while wandering through the gardens at the Alhambra I was certain I was lost in the maze during the tri-wizard tournament… Ok, enough basically what I’m trying to say was that the night was off to a good start!
After tapas we went to “Granada 10” and proceeded to get in for free AND get a free drink! What a deal this agency had for us!? The place was ridiculous, it was like an old theater decked out with flashing light (lights, lights, lights) and gold metallic couches and little stages sporadically placed for some chicas to get up and show everyone what they’re made of (or lack of clothing they’re wearing.) One thing we discovered is that Spanish girls wear nude tights out with shorts or short skirts and man does it NOT work. We had sooo much fun dancing and acting like idiots. When we walked home later on we were severely disappointed to find that Burger King was closed… Our other guide Manuel (Manoo) who walked us hope said “Guys, you don’t need food just go upstairs and drink some water.” We all thought he was crazy but now that we have discussed it multiple times he is definitely right. We need to bring this strategy back to the states with us..(yeah, right)
The place was just ridiculous
Prosthetic legs or just shiny tights? Your call
Waking up at 7:45 the next morning was brutal but nothing was going to stop us from some strong coffee and toast! The number of people who joined us for breakfast had greatly diminished from the morning before and we were glad because we looked quite rough. (Katrina wore her black tights from the night before, blue shorts over them and a huge hoodie) We pulled ourselves together to the best we could and packed our bags because we had to check out of the hotel by 10. You cannot imagine how sad we were to leave our spacious room with the beautiful view, fresh towels, warm water and endless supply of toilet paper.
We all had to put our bags in one room and then we boarded the bus for another drive up the mountain and we were surprised to be let out at the very same plaza looking out at the Alhambra. It was oddly ironic and completely perfect that we did not trek up some hill but arrived at the top with not only full appreciation for how long of hike it would have been to be there, but in even more awe of the amazing fortress majestically poised across the valley and for the city we were looking down on. It was a great end to an amazing trip and I could not have planned it better myself. We then walked back down the mountainside full of homes and alleyways to arrive at the “Royal Chapel” of Capilla Real. This was built as the intended resting place for Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand and all future monarchs of Spain. However, the only royals who rest in the chapel are Isabel, Ferdinand and their daughter Juana and her Flemish husband and their son Miguel who, had he lived longer than the 2 years he did, would have worn the crown and kept if from falling into the hands of Carlos Quinto who refused to be buried in the chapel. Queen Isabel wanted the chapel to be modest and pristine but while Carlos Quinto tried to embellish much of the building he still dubbed it not good enough. From what I understand he then went on to build the cathedral in the Alhambra but died before completion. It dawned on me while listening to our tour guide that Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand had a daughter Catherine of Aragon who married King Henry VIII. If I recall correctly Henry wanted to divorce Catherine but because the church would not allow it, he started the Church of England and married Anne Boleyn. I honestly became really overwhelmed by the deep rooted history and it hit my like a brick wall that I was walking in places of high importance. (Sorry for the history lesson)
For the rest of the afternoon we were free to do what our hearts desired so we of course… shopped! We went in every single little gypsy store we could find and there was a labrinth of them covering about 3 streets with no real doors just openings on each side of the store so you could walk right through to the next little alley. We had so much fun wandering around and looking at everything. I decided to buy a really cute wallet for the rest of my Spanish adventure because the wallet I’m carrying now is full of target gift cards and change and things that are weighing down my purse for no reason. I think it was a very smart purchase and I love how cute it is! After successful shopping we went back to the hotel for the “last supper” of an excellent lunch and then, fat and happy, we boarded the bus home. It was weird how much I enjoyed the bus ride but I really did. Just watching the Spanish landscape fly by was calming and humbling. It was an amazing trip and as always, I feel incredibly blessed. I am just constantly in a state of disbelief and appreciation and cannot thank my parents enough for their hard work, sacrifices and complete devotion to their kids because I would not be having these astonishing experiences if it weren’t for you. Thank you is not enough.