- I trust peoples' advice first and my guidebooks second. In this case, both said the tour I had booked for Tanger sucked.
- Leo and countless others made the rest of Morocco (Casablanca, Marrakesh, etc...) sound so much more interesting, so I figure a trip to Morocco (or northern Africa) is warranted.
- “You can always come back”, a great Rick Steves mantra
- Even if I went, my anxiety about the wind would just spoil it
- I had already missed out on having a good guide
- After the whole ER experience, I wasn't looking for another trip-jostling event
Passed the one week mark already!? My goodness. Better get started on this blog of my favorite city so far, Granada!
As you saw by the 3 blogs I churned out in one day, I had a boring 4 hour train ride down to Granada. Lots of reading, blogging and staring lol. I arrived to construction at the train station and no signs for the bus I needed; nice. Luckily, me and another backpacker started wandering and found the stations and it was all good. Freddie, who runs my hostel, was EXTREMELY nice (as most hostel hosts are), showing me on the map all the best spots to sightsee and eat tapas. The place only held 20 people, and there's just one 6-person backpacker room; the rest are for couples. That's a bit of a switch, but a mellow hostel is cool with me; after the ER scare, I'm not planning on partying all night anytime soon.
Speaking of tapas, I took Freddie's suggestion and had lunch consisting of a beer and free tapa (they're big on that in Granada AND you can choose). The best part, I did the whole thing in Spanish; I was very proud, especially in a local lunch place by the university.
Afterwards, out I went with the afternoon ahead of me. I explored the outside of the cathedral and grabbed my Alhambra ticket. Following the river, I wandered up the hills of the Albayzín stopping at all the view points on the map. That included San Miguel, which is way the heck up there, but has the best view of the city. I may have wandered into some of the gypsy caves instead of the main tourist path, but it was all good. The view was simply stunning.
Back I strolled to the hostel, sitting down to post all those blogs, noticing that everyone around me was a couple. Usually, couple travelers keep to themselves, and it seemed to hold true here too. Fortunately, Kate and Catherine? (sorry, so many names in traveling) came in. They're study-abroad students from Madrid; Kate is originally from Minneapolis while Catherine is from...wait for it...Grosse Pointe! You have got to be kidding me, how many Michigan people am I going to meet in Spain? Amazing. We gabbed about GP for a while, then after getting ready I went with them and Kiko, one of our hosts, to grab dinner and then possibly make it to the Arab Baths.
Unfortunately, the baths didn't have any appointments (and I totally brought my swimsuit!) so Kiko and I split off from the girls after dinner, heading back towards the town center. I asked Kiko to recommend another tapas place (since I only had one with my drink), so he showed me and then headed to the hostel.
Getting back, stuff got done for once. I mean, this whole trip, I've felt I'm just steamrolling over all my plans and setting things up, which is fine, but it's a bit seam-of-the-pants. Granada is the first city where I've been able to relax, even though I lost a day there. I made phone calls, called the insurance about the whole ER thing, read up on buses and messed a lot with Facebook. Taking an easy night and thinking I'd see the college drinking seen the next day, I went to bed a little early.
Turns out, in addition to the two girls, our room was pretty much full, including Tom, who was biking from England to Morocco. He was hanging out with Natalie from Canada, who was in a separate room. Then there was also another Polish girl, who's name I cannot remember (sorry!)...MAN, she was a talker, but it's always good to meet a fellow Pole.
Anywho, the next morning I got up at 9 a.m. to plan and was out after a quick breakfast at 10 a.m. for the Alhambra. I walked up the other giant hill in Grenada and entered the Moorish palace through the shortcut Justice Gate, since I already had my ticket. Even though my time for the visit was 11:00 a.m., you're allowed to visit all the other sites before 2 p.m., which is cool.
As for the Alhambra itself...just WOW. This is simply THE site to see in Spain and has made Granada my #1 city so far. First up, I wandered the Alcazaba and Charles V Palace before waiting for my time to enter the Palacios Nazaries. And man, once I got in there...just SO many pictures lol. Major picture overload on Facebook, I know. The tile work is simply amazing; it's like Park Guell all over again, only on a much larger scale. Luckily, the mob was held off by the fact that it was morning, it was cold and it was off-season, of which I was thankful. The entire site, despite the knots of people, was very serene and peaceful, with birds chirping all over.
After the main palace, I hit the Generalife Gardens, which I personally thought were just as worth it simply for the colorful photos. That and the AMAZING views. I guess that crisp 0...err 32 degree weather made for good photos, huh? Finally, I wandered back out after 3 hours, a long time at one site for me. I will remember that place forever, that and now I have several GBs of pics to remind me lol.
Back in town, I watched a band of women drummers perform before heading down to find lunch. I went to a tapas place that looked good the previous day, ordering the plato del dia (plate of the day). I was hoping for a raciones size item rather than a tapa, which is what I figured I was getting based on the other menu items (and the price). Instead, I got some chicken and egg soup, which was good don't get me wrong, but not worth €8. I actually waited much longer than normal to ask for the check because I thought I had another course coming...oops. Next time, I'll either ask what the plato del dia is for the day or just order something else. Instead of asking for more, I got a free tapa with a drink at another restaurant haha. I can see where this can get you in trouble.
Back at the hostel, I met Rob, who was originally from Kalamazoo (What the heck is with all the MI people?) and now lives in SF. I only stayed around for a little bit before heading over to look for shopping. I first went to Alcaiceria to wander and shop for souvenirs. Evidently, everything is as cheap as my guide book says, so no winning trinkets there. I don't know, after forcing myself to buy something from each city I visited last time and ending up with crap, this time I am only going for things that are of value to me. Needless to say, I didn't find much.
Elsewhere, everything was shut down for Sunday, so I couldn't get any of the items I needed, like a thick scarf and gloves lol. It's cold here! Instead, I came back to the hostel and fixed photos, played with my computer a bit, chatted with folks and relaxed. I must say, for the first time all trip, I finally was feeling relaxed. It usually takes me a week to fight through all the travel anxiety, based on my last Eurotrip. So yea, just a nice quiet couple of hours. That, and it was just cold lol
Natalie invited me, Tom and Rob out for flamenco, and since my second attempt to book the Arab baths failed, we went out that night for dinner and the show. We split tapas and a bottle of wine downtown and then hit up a little flamenco place next to the river that our hostel recommended. The dance area was literally in a basement bunker-style area, like a little cave. It made the experience feel much more authentic than those massive tourist operations. We clapped and shouted along while drinking sangria; overall, I felt very Spanish haha.
When all was said and done, we braved the cold once more to head to the hostel. Tom and me were the only ones left in our room, so we crashed early.
Now, I'm in Tarifa after a whole day of buses. More on that, along with Gibraltar and Tangier, to come!
hey there, blog readers! I've
leaving you in the dark for a couple days, that'll happen on a trip
like this. I'm on a 4 hour train to Granada from Madrid this morning
(finally...more later), so I have some time to sit down and compile
all the happenings from Madrid over the past several days.