Adventures in Andalucía

Trip Start Jan 05, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Friday, February 19, 2010

Last weekend, Hope and I took our first trip out of Catalunya to see Granada in Andalucía in southern Spain.  I had read so much about Granada, the Moroccan palace there (the Alhambra), and all the beautiful scenery, so I was super excited to see it.

La Lluvia Increíble:
Unfortunately, we had awful luck with the weather there.  It was in the 30s (Fahrenheit), and it hardly stopped raining the whole weekend.  My Chicago blood is definitely not as thick as it used to be, so I basically wore all the clothing that I had brought in order to have on as many layers as possible.  Granada seems like such a beautiful city, and it's a shame we only got to see it through the clouds and rain.  I'd recommend visiting in May.

Gitanas (Gypsies):
Can't go anywhere in Spain without having some sort of encounter with these famous con artists.  As soon as we got off the airport shuttle on Granada's "Main Street," two gypsy women pegged us blondes as unassuming tourists and started showering us with herbs and reading our palms.  Fortunately, we got away with all our belongings-- and apparently I'm going to live a long life and have a happy marriage. :)

Doña Lupe:
We stayed in a hostel basically on the grounds of the Alhambra palace.  We were at the top of a hill overlooking the whole city.  It was convenient when we visited the palace, but it was a bit of a hike from the town's main center.  Fortunately, Granada is a very walkable city.  However, the Doña Lupe hostel was lacking in many other respects...  I've attached a picture of the bathroom.  There were a mere 5 inches between the toilet and the door.  The bathroom in its entirety must have been 2.5' x 2.5'.  The bedroom was probably 6' x 10' and there wasn't much room for anything but the full-size bed that Hope and I shared.  Also, our heater apparently only had two settings: feeble and weak.  The only good use we got out of it was to leave a spare pair of socks on it overnight so that they'd be warm and toasty in the morning.

Tetería (tea shop):
Granada has successfully maintained the Arab culture that laid the foundations for its famous architecture and traditions.  We enjoyed the most delicious chai tea that I've ever tasted at an Arab tetería.  The little "café" looked like it was right out of Arabian nights.  Lots of people were smoking hookah and lounging on plush, bold-colored pillows.  If you're visiting, you MUST walk through Albaicín and have a cup of tea!

¡¡Tapas!! 
Granada has the BEST tradition for serving tapas.  At any and every restaurant or bar you go to, you get a FREE tapa with your drink.  And don't get the wrong idea about the size of the tapas.  It's not like they're just serving you a cracker and and olive.  AU CONTRAIRE!  Let's see: the first bar we went to (La bella y la bestia or Beauty and the Beast) gave us ham sandwiches, pasta, and french fries with our 3 Euro glass of wine.  Next, we ventured to an Asian fusion restaurant where we got spring rolls and fried rice with a 2 Euro glass of tinto.  We basically repeated the pattern of red wine + free tapas until we were completely stuffed.  I wish the US would pick up this fantastic custom.  I'll try to bring it back with me.

The Alhambra:
The Alhambra was, without a doubt, my favorite part of Granada.  I'd read about it in Philippa Gregory's novel The Constant Princess.  It was such a treat to get to see it in person!  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, but here's a bit of background information about the inspiration of this Arab gem:

The sultans who constructed the Alhambra and founded Granada had a great for water, especially flowing water.  The streets throughout the city incorporate a drainage system where small canals carry water down from higher altitudes.  This theme carried over to the Alhambra palace.  The "water staircase" has streams of water running down narrow channels where the railings would be.  Elaborate fountains and reflecting pools are the focal points of the numerous gardens and courtyards.  Furthermore, the Arabs intended to incorporate all the senses into the construction of their beautiful palaces.  Hence, you not only experience the beauty of the palace through sight but also by listening to the sound of constantly flowing water.  They also incorporated beautiful baths into the palace construction.

Furthermore, because of their strict religious beliefs that banned the adoration of idols, the Arabs were forbidden from depicting images of humans or animals.  Therefore, the palace is adorned with intricate patterns in perfect geometric proportion.

I'm almost certain that I lived here in a past life.  I'll have to visit again when the weather is much nicer and all the flowers are in bloom!  This is a must-see destination if you're ever in Spain.  DON'T MISS IT!

Flamenco de Las Cuevas (Flamenco in Caves):
Hope and I also had the pleasure of viewing an espectáculo de flamenco in the famous caves.  The caves are far from what you would find hiking in the woods, rather they're domed, underground rooms that resemble a tunnel.  We contently sipped sweet sangria while the dancers/singers/guitarists impressed us with their Andalucían talents.  See the attached pictures and video!

 Overall, our trip to Granada was a success, but I was VERY glad to return to my dorm in Barcelona with adequate heat and lodging space.

What I found most surprising about Granada was... its relatively small size and the plethora of beautiful graffiti that seemed to mark every surface.

Next time I visit Granada, I'll be sure to see... the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. 

I was reminded of home when... I shared a cab to the airport with two girls who were also studying in Barcelona and who go to Univ. of Wisconsin.  Coincidentally, one of them had a roommate her freshman year who went to St. Mary's with me.  Small world.  Also, we went to an Irish pub where a Spanish band was playing covers of Bob Dylan songs.  Bizarre culture vomit.

The low point of the weekend was when... I drank four cups of café con leche (coffee with milk) because I had run out of resources to keep me warm.
 
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Comments

Kim on

So neat! Of course Nikki thinks the toilet is the neatest part. Love You!

Prell Familia on

Awesome photos once again! Looks like a lot of fun. Keep the Blog updated it's wonderful. I ama suuming that wasn't you or Hope dancing in the video....
Any, enjoy and we look forward to more. I know Mom can't wait to see you! P.S. Thank you for the 'Art project' advice - very helpful.

nestpromotion
nestpromotion on

If you are travelling to Granada, Spain, Hostel Granada White Nest is a good choice. It's clean, center located and very cheap to suit your budget.

nestpromotion
nestpromotion on

http://www.nesthostelsgranada.com

ramon on

To the people that are planning to enjoy of Granada Spain, I recommend to stay in a great hostel. The White Nest is located a few meters of Paseo De Los Tristes in the millennium neighborhood of Albaycin . From the hostel you got everything close, the Alhambra Palace, the tapas road, the sacromonte, everything!! You`ve got to check Hostels Granada

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