Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Moors No More

Um, I was in Granada March 6th through the 8th. It was amazing. I went with just one other person, my good friend Melissa. It was the smallest group we have traveled with. Usually there are at least four of us, so this was a big adventure.

We took the AVE into Madrid on Friday morning, which was amazing. 20 Minutes and we were there, no need to spend an hour on a bus full of creepers heading into the city to work. We hoped on the Metro, took it the wrong way, hoped off, switched directions and made it to the stop for the bus station, but we took the wrong exit and ended up outside, so we asked a police officer and finally made it to the bus station. Getting from the AVE station to the bus station took an hour….it’s only one stop on the Metro….

Oh, the Metro at 8am, FUN! You know how you see images of people sardined into the subway in Tokyo or something; well this is what I experienced. Missy and I got split up between a couple of cars just before the door closed. Then, I got off at the first stop, Mendez Alvaro, or so I thought. It wasn’t, so I through myself back into the car, but then saw that Melissa had gotten off too, so I jumped out just before the doors closed again. Then we did the switching of sides and finally made it to the right stop.

So, the bus station is completely different during the day. The last time we had been there was when we left for Sevilla on a midnight bus (when we met Joel and Branden), but in the morning, it is quite nice. So, we got on our bus, this time I sat next to a nice girl from Japan who was going to see a friend studying in Granada. She slept the better part of the trip, so we did not talk beyond, ‘hi.’

The trip to Granada is about 5 hours, but we stopped in this little town half way through for a half hour break for lunch. We had really great, really cheap, bocadillas de tortilla. I love tortillas.

We got to Granada, I can’t even remember when, and followed Rick Steves direction as to which bus to take to the city center. We got off at the wrong stop and ended up walking to our hostel, which turned out to be right off of Plaza Nueva. Perfect location. We checked in, threw our stuff down, and headed out to make our 5:30 appointment to view the Alhambra.

Ok, so how the Alhambra works, you need to reserve a ticket, because they sell out fast. You have half an hour from the time on your ticket to enter into Palacios Nazaries. Our ticket time was 5:30. Around 6:05 we made it to the entrance. Yay! Oh, and it was raining. All was good though. We toured through the palace, then went into Charles’s V Palace and the Alcazar. I am not even going to try to explain how breathtakingly unbelievable it was to be there. This was something that I have read about, been lectured on, and talked about at least once every semester since I started taking Spanish. It is kind of a big deal. This was the last Moorish stronghold in all of Spain, ending the Reconquista by the Christian army in 1492, finally solidifying Christian power in Spain.

Inside Palacios Nazaries is the room where Columbus was granted permission to travel West to reach the East. That is soo cool. I stood where Ferdinand and Isabella stood giving Cristobol Colon to OK to find the Americas. OMG!

OMG! I just cant get over it. Even thinking back on it, yeah, it’s only been two weeks, but still. I can’t believe that I was there. How is this even possible? To have something as important in the history of really the entire world still exist, and that I was in it, that is just too cool. JODER!

You guys don’t even understand.

Anyway, that night we decided to go out for dinner. This is when I met my arab boyfriend whose name I can’t remember. We were looking for a teteria, a tea house. We passed by something that resembled one, so I went to check out the menu. This is when my new friend in a turban approached me, asked my my name, told me he new lots of American girls who liked his tea and hooka, and insisted that “amiga, Angelita, you’ll love it.” This is when I was uncomfortable and Melissa was seriously considering grabbing me and running. (She told me this later.) I was just making sure I wasn’t getting robbed and that he wasn’t planning on touching anything other than my hand. CREEP!!! We avoiding that street for the rest of our stay.

For dinner we actually ended up following some British men to a really nice restaurant. It was only about 9, so we were the only ones in the restaurant. It was delicious. We spoke in Spanish the entire time, which was cool, and then I ate fried milk. That’s right FRIED Milk. It was a strange flan/custard combo that was surprisingly tasty.

This ends day one, by midnight we were all tucked in bed and trying to sleep.

Day 2: SHOPPING!!!

We were going to go to Nerja to hit the beach, but the clouds in the sky convinced us to shop instead, oh darn. It was great. We found tons of great things, that we didn’t buy. I did find a really great store that I can’t mention due to the name and who I bought it for. All will be revealed in time. We grabbed strawberries and bread for lunch and ate them on the steps of the cathedral, under the now scorching sky. It was perfect, except for those damn gypsies.

I would like to thank Rick Steves for mentioning them in his Granada chapter and not Sevilla. Those ladies with the rosemary….yup, they were all over, but now I have a sixth sense, so we avoided them, using unsuspecting tourists as blockades against their advances.

Later in the day we went to St. Nicholas viewpoint to watch the sun set over the Alhambra. Here we met up with some of the Notre Dame kids and just watched the Alhambra in all its glory for at least three hours. This is when I had my epiphany about home and started to cry and freaked Melissa out…oops.
We then headed to our flamenco show, which wasn’t for two hours. When we found the restaurant, we went to a different bar for a cafĂ© before dinner. There was some big game on, so it was crowded with rowdy Spanish men. Nothing interesting here.

Flamenco dinner was amazing. Sangria, pizza, Greek salad, and a show. The performers were great. The best part was seeing them dance a Sevillano, which I actually know, so it was neat to see it in person. I wish I could dance a little better, maybe I would have been the one to volunteer to dance with them. There was a bachelorette part going on those, 25 AndalucĂ­a women raised to dance flamenco. They danced with the performers, and then when they were done, they took over the stage and continued the show. So great. We ended up staying there until close to 2, at which time we got a cab back to our hostel. End day 2

Day 3: Church and Home

We got up and went to the Alhambra to write postcard. Can you imagine, just hanging out in the Alhambra? Well I did. It was amazing. We then went to mass at the Cathedral in Granada with our friend Elissa.

After mass we had about an hour to get back to the bus station to catch our bus home. The street was blocked off, so the bus wasn’t running that day. There was a manifestacion de la mujer, the working woman, all over Spain, so the bus route in Granada was messed up. We ended up catching another taxi so that we wouldn’t miss our bus.

We made it, got on, rode home, and went to sleep.

What a great, eye-opening, weekend!

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