Wait, are we in Morocco?

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
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Trip End Jul 05, 2011


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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Sunday, June 12, 2011

We arrived in Granada around 8 PM and had a bit of a situation trying to take the bus to the hostel. First, all of the information in the train station were closed and the train people refused to answer questions about anything other than trains (like local buses). After wandering around for a while and asking random people for directions, we found a bus stop for the two buses we could take to the hostel-- 3 and 33. We tried to get on the first 33 and the lady wouldn't let us on! We tried to pay but she rambled something about our stop being too close for the bus and drove away. Mind you, our stop was not too close to the bus at all. It was 5 stops away, which added up to about 1.5 miles of walking with our backpacks on. Another 33 bus drove by but this one was pretty full and didn't even stop! Finally, a number 3 bus came and let us get on. The hostel was really close to the bus stop we got off on, and it was located on a street totally covered in little Moroccan/Arab shops. When we arrived at the hostel, the receptionist was really busy so she gave us a little paper and told us to go get free drinks at the bar while she caught up.
A few beers later, the receptionist came back and told us that she was going to have to put us in separate rooms... Adrienne and I on the 1st floor and Jeremy on the 3rd floor. OH WELL, Jeremy's room was much more quiet because it was not near the kitchen, but he had to share with a bunch of silly girls.. We made Alhambra reservations with the hostel (again for the third time, apparently the system had been down before). Unfortunately,  9 AM was the latest time we could , and they said that we had to be there an hour early to pick up tickets and to walk to the palace, which apparently took 20 minutes... It worked out though because we needed an early night to recover from our recent bout of illness. 
The three of us went to dinner and got Moroccan food since Granada is so heavily influenced by the Arab culture.  The restaurant was really beautiful-- I took way to many pictures of the inside (and of the insides of the shops all around the restaurant). Adrienne and I split lamb kebabs and chicken shwarma, both of which were delicious, and Jeremy had veal tandoori. We all went to bed right after dinner in order to be rested for the Alhambra the next morning. 
We woke up early early for breakfast then headed to Alhambra! The Alhambra is a fortress and palace complex with lots of gardens. It is pretty much a bigger version of the Alcazar in Sevilla. The palace was built for Muslim rulers in the 13th to 15th centuries, and the fortress predated that by a few centuries. It was a really long walk to the entrance, but we ended up beating the line by a few minutes-- it tripled almost as soon as we walked up. Once we got into the Alhambra complex, we still had a long walk to palace entrance, which had the reservation time that we had to meet. We ended up being pretty early, so we had plenty of time to take pictures of the fabulous views. The palaces were really beautiful-- so ornate with tons of intricate carvings and wonderful gardens. The Alhambra was slightly more impressive than the Alcazar but unfortunately had about 10 times as many tourists. The staff checked tickets a ton of times, and the gardens were too large to be  maintained as well as the Alcazar's. It was still totally incredible, and we took lots of pictures (including those of ridiculous people in MC Hammer pants and Asian tourists with umbrellas-- see bottom of blog). 
After about 5 hours spent cruising around the Alhambra, we walked back down to the center of town and found a tapas restaurant with free paella and delicious house rioja wine. Between the three of us, we ordered a tortilla espanola, croquettes, ad cured ham/ grilled pork on bread with Roquefort cheese. Jeremy ordered the grilled pork thinking that lomo was veal... we've all decided to pretend it was veal. 
After lunch, we tried to go to market but it turned out to not exist... Then we tried to go to the big cathedral but it cost money to enter and closed about 2 minutes before we got there. Oh well, we got really good views of the cathedral from the Alhambra anyway. There were spice markets all around the cathedral, so everything smelled delicious. We took a bunch of pictures of the spices because they were really interesting. There was a whole row of medicinal mixtures that were particularly amusing. There were herbs to cure every problem you could possibly need to cure! Wouldn't it be cool if medicine was actually that easy? Then we wandered around Granada's many squares and did some shopping. I bought a pair of earrings and a little clutch bag and Adrienne bought a necklace. Everything was so cheap!
By this point, we were pretty tired and hot, so we went back to hostel to rest and wait for stuff to open after the mid-day siesta. We did some final logistical planning for getting to the UK, including booking a night bus from Brussels to London and sorting out our hostels in Belgium. After our little rest, we wandered around looking for restaurants, but ended up  at a place right next to the hostel! We were trying to figure out which places gave free appertivos when you ordered a drink, but they do not advertise such information so we took a blind guess. We ordered a few beers and surprise-- giant plate of free goodies! Because we were having an early dinner and had to spend the night on the train, we ordered a ton more food so we could take some with us for emergency munchies. Jeremy ordered a vile Russian salad and we could barely  finish our cheese plate because it was gigantic, but we eventually succeeded. We also couldn't figure out how to ask for a doggy bag/box in a way that the waiter could understand, so we just wrapped the sandwiches in napkins and shoved them in our day packs. 
After our dinner feast, we went back to the hostel to gather our bags, took another local bus to the train station, and got on the night train to Valencia! But more on that later. Hasta la vista!
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Comments

Dad on

Great! Was only in the city itself long enough (at night on the way from some station to the field "hostel") to attract unwanted attention to my soon to be ex-jeans. Didn't realize it was so colorful.

Mom on

Lovely blog, thank you. I"d have a hard time getting out of those colorful shops! Great photos, lovely color, nice details to share with us.

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