Thursday, February 4, 2010

Les Ama Granada

Where: My bottom bunk
Listening to:
Word of the day: "abulia"

This past weekend we went to Granada, a smaller city east of Sevilla. It's surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range, a popular area for skiing. Granada was once ruled by the Moors (the Arabics, who also once ruled Sevilla) and has a Moorish influence much like Sevilla. Granada was the last Muslim city to return back to Spain in 1492 thanks to Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand. It is most well known for the Moorish castle, the Alhambra.

We left Sevilla around 9 a.m from Plaza de Espana. The ride there wasn't bad (for some). We all tried to sleep, but ended up watching Zoolander instead. Hence, some "blue steel" themed pictures from the trip. We traveled with a program called DiscoverSevilla. Their directors are a couple years older than us, but were so much fun to hang out with.
We stayed at Hotel Juan Miguel, which to our surprise, turned out to be really nice.It was in the middle of the city and within walking distance to all major sites. We even got three meals included! That was definitely the most we've had to eat in Europe so far. Tricia, Haley, Laura, and I were in a room on the fourth floor with a great view of the city.

We were right next door to Nick, Nick, and Travis. Our room was huge, with big, clean beds and fresh fluffy towels. We had enough room to spread out, with roomy closets to hang our clothes. We didn't have to worry about dirty floors that hadn't been cleaned or about the length of our shower. The hot water didn't run out! There was toilet paper! We were in heaven! It's hard to believe something as small as this could have felt so nice. We are definitely getting used to the European way of life. We even took one of the rolls of toilet paper home with us, since Vicki treats TP as if it was made of gold.

After we settled in and got some delicious helado, we went on a hike to an area called the Albayzin to Plaza de San Nicolas. The Albayzin is the ancient Moorish area of Granada. According to the information we were given, the area used to be home to artists. Nowadays the area is popular for the modern-day gypsies, which in actuality look more like the hobos and hippies of Austin than Esmerelda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The natives are very entertaining. They come to Plaza de Nicolas to sell jewelry to tourists, play music, sell beer, and let their dogs run all over the place. Literally every person has a small dog and every hobo has a bigger dog. The Plaza de Nicolas overlooks the whole city and has a perfect view of the Alhambra, which we visited the next day.

As we were getting ready, I stood out on the balcony and said "GOOD MORNING SEVILLA!!!" Haley promptly locked me out on the balcony. That night we went out to a small bar that had some fifteen-year-olds playing foozball in it. I was pretty tired so I headed home early to save up for the next day.

After eating breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Alhambra. The Alhambra was built in the 14th century under the Nazari Dynasty. It consists of two palaces, the Generalife (the summer palace) and the Alhambra itself. They are both places completely opposite of Plaza de Nicolas on top of a mountain in order to protect the royals. The palaces are surrounded by perpetually green gardens with Moorish design and flowing fountains. The whole time I felt as though I should be strolling about in my Renaissance dress. If only... We had a tour guide who took us through the entire castle. It was gorgeous. The Alhambra and Real Alcanzar were especially interesting because of their Moorish origin. You would expect them to be like castles from Cinderella since they are in Europe. However, they has got a touch of Aladdin in them, just enough to make you think twice about where you are at. Just like the blue "jasmine pants" that Tricia decided to buy. Those make me think twice about why I am her friend.

We had the option of going to a 12 euro buffet, but being the typical college girls we are, we chose elsewhere. We got 2.50 euro sandwiches and went shopping (why spend money of food, honestly). Our shopping really just turned into wandering the streets and exploring. Afterwards we went back to our hotel room, took extra long showers, and met up with the group to go out for tapas. Tricia, Laura, Haley, Melanie, Mindy, Hanna, and I went with our tour guide, Benni, to a restaurant that gave out a free tapas with each drink. We stayed at this bar for a while before going to an Irish pub. They are very popular here.

Once the clock struck 1 a.m., it was time to hit the discos. We went to Granada 10 which looked like a scene from a movie. My friend Becca told me to go there so I knew it was going to be a blast. The club was huge. People were dancing every where. It couldn't have been more fun and Euro-fabulous! I've definitely adapted to the Spanish way of clubbing--dancing a lot. Which is more or less me jumping around. This will be interesting when I get back to the states. For some reason, I doubt Will G's Generic will have the same effect like Granada 10 or Buddha.

I definitely haven't adapted to the way Spanish girls wear nude colored tights. Mindy took a picture of Nick Savio with some Spanish girls wearing these tights, giving them the same look as Hooters girls. So Haley commented on the picture saying "Do these girls have prosthetic legs Savio?" Then the same Spanish girls in the picture found it and commented back. SO HILARIOUS. By the way, they in fact do not have prosthetic legs.

The next morning we woke up, feasted, downed two coffees, and went on a small tour of the city. We went to Capilla Real, the cathedral where Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand are buried. You can actually go down into the basement of the church and see their crypt. It's so weird to think that people have been visiting these places for over 200 years. It's easy to think about people in the last 50 years, but imagine how these things looked to people in the 1800's! Ha, and they thought they were so advanced. We ended the trip again with a visit to Plaza de San Nicholas and a shopping stop in the gypsy markets which had tons of Moroccan-made items. Haley bought a wallet and I bought a gold scarf (hello Mizzou games). We then headed back to the buses for home.

Overall, our first adventure could not have been more fun. It was the perfect balance of history and entertainment. I left that day feeling full of happiness and contentment of what is to come. This is literally the semester I have been waiting for. I couldn't be happier that I'm finally here and living it.

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