Weekend Excursion to Granada

Trip Start Dec 29, 2008
Trip End May 30, 2009

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Andalusia,
Monday, March 23, 2009

Dear Loyal Readers,

I am a little late on this entry for a couple of reasons: I had a one day layover in Madrid before heading to Dublin, I have pink eye, this is mid-term week, and frankly there is a lot to share. We´ll start with the bus ride.

We left from Moncloa as usual at 8:30 to take the 6 hour ride to Granada, which is located in the southern province of Andalucia (think flamenco dancers and the beach). The trip itself was fun as I finished all of my homework, read a few case studies, and watched Todo Sobre Mi Madre. The vistas from the bus were spectacular, but we were all anxious to see the city when we saw the orange trees on the drive into the city. One of our chaperones, Carlos, is actually from Granada, so he gave us some helpful tips on where and what to eat.

There was a dramatic temperature change of about 20 degrees Fahrenheit between Madrid and Granada. I roomed with Hunter Harig this time as Joey was in England visiting his girlfriend. Hunter is on the Universidad Complutense de Madrid program which ends later this week. He is a really cool kid and I´m a bit sad that I did not get to know him earlier in the program, but we hung out in our room for a while anyway.

ISA planned very little for us to do, so we had a great deal of free time with which to explore the city. Marni, Maggie Rubenstein, Rob Corea, Beth Donovan, and I all left the hotel to find lunch and take some preliminary photos. After a quick slice of pizza we headed toward the shopping district (as usual), but did not really find anything interesting, so we took a convoluted route back to the hotel and got the most amazing Argentine gelato on the way.

In the evening we met up in the main plaza for some schwarma (like a döner kebob, only better) and headed to a late night flamenco show. On the way we paused on a landing filled with hippies to take pictures of the Alhambra and after about an hour made our way to the cave where the gypsies were performing. I captured a few photos, but taking video meant being yelled at by an old woman, so I did not want to risk it. The performers were captivating so that as we left we could only discuss the powerful and moving nature the dance. We all went to a tapas bar for a while before calling it a night fairly early.

The next day we had breakfast downstairs after which I walked around for a while before meeting up with the group for the 12:30 trip to the Alhambra. As many of you know, I was singularly focused on being an architect for about 10 years and studied the famous Moorish palace in depth, so visiting the site was the realization of a life long dream. It did not disappoint. Our guided tour featured some of the most intricate details on the walls and the most breathtaking views that I have ever seen. The castle is situated far above the city, allowing for some amazing panoramic photos. The gardens are equally gorgeous such that I could have easily extended our visit longer than the four hours allotted if I was not starving by the end of it.

We spent the rest of the day shopping on a hidden Moroccan street and touring the downtown before heading to a tapas bar for a cańa (small beer) and some tapas (free in Granada with every order!). Afterward we met up with the group at a restaurant where we smoked a few flavors of hookah before calling yet another early night. Hookah has a mellowing effect (similar to chamomile tea) which made me sleep like a baby.

I woke up in the morning refreshed and ready to enjoy the heat. We had breakfast, checked out, and took a walking tour of the city guided by Carlos on which we saw the city hall, a beautiful cathedral, another hidden Moroccan street, and the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella as well as their daughter Juana la Loca and her husband Felipe I. After lunch we met up at the hotel to take the long journey back. I didn´t have much to do, but fortunately we watched Finding Nemo (in Spanish of course) and El Orfanato, a psychological thriller by Pedro Almódovar.

I´ll follow up with a report on my time in Dublin. Thanks for reading.
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