This post is mainly for my sister, Colleen, who is dying to go visit Granada when she and my mom visit me en Espana. I know it’s been a loooongg eight days since I last posted, but I haven’t had anything interesting to say! Daily life hasn’t been very exciting.
But, this past weekend ISA took us to Granada, a really awesome, ancient city about an hour north of Malaga in the mountains. It started out badly, because even though I was awake early enough to be packed and ready to go… I forgot my winter coat, and had to turn around halfway to the meeting point to get it. Iker (one of the program directors here in Malaga) said my “face of shame” was punishment enough for holding us up.
Granada is significantly colder than Malaga, so I was glad I made the choice to go back for my coat.
We arrived and took a walking tour of the city center of Granada. We went to the main Catedral (name escaping me) where Isabel & Ferdinand are buried… and we saw their ACTUAL caskets that contain their bodies buried under the church behind glass. They were originally supposed to be buried in Toledo (the capital of Espana at that point), but since they had spent sooo much time fighting the Muslims for control of Granada, they were buried there to make a statement.
After the tour, we went and checked into our wonderful hotel, and Ryan and I immediately took 30 minute showers, washing our hair extremely thoroughly and shaving (!!). Not gonna lie – every single girl in our program was looking forward to this weekend, for this reason. Most of us only get 5 minutes of hot water every day, and every day it’s the choice: “wash my hair” or “shave my legs”, and it’ll only get worse once we are at the beach everyday. This is probably why there is the stereotype of European women never shaving – its because you only get 5 minutes of water, and it’s not long enough to shave! ever!
In any case, we went out right after and did some shopping at the little shops. Here are a few things I keep forgetting while I’m here.
1. Euro ≠ USD.
2. Euros ≠ Monopoly Money/Chuckie Cheese Tokens (especially true with the one and two euro coins)
My spending habits often reflect the prior two mistakes. “Oh, that fabulous giant sombrero is only 20 euros? I’ll take TWO! I have tons of these pieces of paper!”
…And then I check my bank account and swear never to buy anything unnecessary for the next 2 months.
Or at least until I really, really want chocolate cake. Which is pretty much every day.
Back to Granada. So, we went shopping and came back to the hotel realizing we were STARVING, had NO CASH and only 20 minutes until we had to meet ISA for a surprise. I’m ashamed to admit that we went to Spanish Burger King. But it was the only place we could use cards and get something “cheap” (Spanish BK is expensive!!!) and take it “para llevar” (to go).
So we met ISA for a surprise… and after walking for 10 years uphill coblestoned streets, we arrived at our surprise which was a FLAMENCO SHOW. It. Was. Awesome. I am sooo impressed, and I love Spanish culture even more. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but there was one male flamenco dancer and he was sooo handsome. Here is a picture of one of the female dancers – they were absolutely amazing. And at the end, they started picking random people out of the group to come and dance with them. And all I could think was, “if I get picked I will literally melt into the floor in shame.” (I didn’t)
I’m a little embarassed (only a little) that I returned to the hotel, and after dinner at some arab diner (NO BAKLAVA?), I came back and was asleep by 11:30. But then, I was extremely well-rested and so full of energy for the tour of La Alhambra the next day.
La Alhambra is THE most visited place in all of Spain. It is a giant Moorish fortaleza – a city within walls, with extensive gardens and several palaces added later. It was began in the 1200s, and in 1492 the Catholic Monarchs took control finally, and then made an extensive repair and alterations to it, including building their own Royal Palace. And when Charles V visited for his honeymoon, he decided to build the Palace – which is one of the most important works of the Spanish Renaissance.
Even though most of it has been restored, there is at least ONE part that is as it was in the 15th century. (“Don’t touch anything. Don’t even breathe on it.” were our instructions). The only disappointing part was that there weren’t very many flowers or plants at this point. So when Colleen & my Mom visit in May… it’ll be sooo much more gorgeous.
Afterwards, we were turned loose, and a few friends and I went and got late lunch at that same arab place because they had hummus. Well, I tried to order hummus. “No tenemos hummus.” the waiter said. I ordered baklava. “No mas baklava… es muy popular y no hay mas.” Seriously?? What kind of arab restaurant is out of all the good stuff!?!? I ended up with “ensalada turca.”
To compensate for not getting what I wanted, I ended up stopping at a bakery and trading a 2€ chuckie cheese token for a chocolate muffin, that – surprise! – had a truffle in the middle! I forgot about my baklava woes for a few minutes.
If you want to see more pictures, here is the link to my facebook album. Let me know if it doesn’t work for some reason. http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10151250318300529.802077.842835528&type=1
Also, soon to come, a post about the hilarious things that my host parents say to us – mostly hilarious if they try to say them in English. But mainly because they are adorable and so so funny. Like tonight, “Cena y un ‘show'” cada noche. (Dinner & a show every night)