So let's...pomegranate

Trip Start Dec 17, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Friday afternoon, after my exams, we left to Granada for the weekend. The bus ride was over 5 hours long, so we arrived at the hotel at about 8:00.  That night, we had an option of going to a flamenco show.  I decided to go, and I'm so glad I did, but not because of the show.  Not to say that the show wasn’t great, it was, but I was feeling a little regretful about spending the 19 euros.  Fortunately, that was when the unforgettable part of the night began.

On the bus ride back to the hotel, we stopped for a brief walking tour through the old Muslim portion of the city.  The mosque, like many mosques in Spain, had been transformed into a church.  The church was on the side of the mountain and had one of the best views I’ve seen so far in Europe.  It looked out directly over the Al Hambra, the city of the sultans of Granada.  Unfortunately, it was night and the view didn’t translate well in photos.  Trust me, it was way cooler than the pictures make it look.

Afterwards, the bus picked us up again and we had two options.  Some people went straight back to the hotel and some of us chose to be dropped off by the Plaza de Toros to see what sort of nightlife activities we could find.  After walking around for a while, we decided that we just wanted to find a good tapas place.  You’ve probably at least heard mention of the tapas culture in Spain, but it’s not equally popular everywhere.  Tapas are not nearly as prevalent in Alicante as they are in Granada.  There are basically two different ways to do tapas.  The first is to go with a group and order several different types of tapas.  For those of you unfamiliar with tapas, this can include dishes such as calamari, fried potatoes in sauces, small sandwiches, and other such small, shareable dishes.  This is what we did the first night.

It took a while, but we finally found a tapas bar that had enough room for us.  There was one other group of young Spanish people there as well, and they were some of the most fun people I have ever seen.  Some of them were great flamenco dancers, and the others sang and clapped for them.  It was just as good as the show we paid for.  Then they invited us to dance with them and shared some chupitas (shots) with us.  It was so much fun.   After dinner we decided to go to bed because we had an early wakeup call in the morning. 

We stayed in a really nice hotel, so it was hard to get out of bed at 7:00 the next morning.  Breakfast made it better.  In Spain, people typically eat a very small breakfast, sometimes just coffee.  At the hotel, we had a typical American breakfast with eggs and toast and a lot of fruit.  Good thing we ate a lot, because at 8:00 the bus came again to take us to a tour of Al Hambra.  The Al Hambra is a walled city that was built on a mountain in the middle of Granada.  A total of 22 sultans lived in the Al Hambra before the Reconquista of Granada in 1492.  Seven of them built palaces and now only two complete and one partial palace remain.  Afterwards, Carlos V/I, grandson of Isabel and Ferdinand, came to Al Hambra for his honeymoon and another palace was built for him.  However, Carlos never lived in Al Hambra.  His palace is still considered a masterpiece of renaissance architecture because it is rectangular on the outside, but circular in the center

In addition to the palaces, we also got to tour the fortress and the gardens of Al Hambra.  In all, the tour was almost 4 hours long, but it definitely didn’t feel like it.  

After lunch, we had the choice of visiting the cathedral and the royal chapel.  The royal chapel was especially interesting because that’s where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand are buried, as well as their daughter Juana la loca and her husband Felipe el guapo.  We got to see their crypts and mausoleums, but pictures weren’t allowed.  You can google pictures of both mausoleums.  They’re quite impressive. 

Finally it was time to retire to the hotel for a long siesta in preparation for a real night out in Granada.  This time we went for tapas in the second style, one that is unique to Andalucía.  In this style, you only have to order a drink and the tapa is included.  I thought that this meant that the drinks would be more expensive, but they weren’t.  Also, the tapas were huge.  You could order sangria or beer, and it would come with a grilled cheese sandwich with ham, or a kabob with meat and seafood.  Unfortunately, after dinner, I was wiped out and thought I might be coming down with a cold or something.  I made the responsible, but lame, decision to go back to the hotel and get 8 hours of sleep.  However, some of the other people from my program went to a relatively well-known discoteca, Granada 10, and it was apparently a lot of fun.  

On Sunday morning I had another great breakfast and then did some shopping.  We got on the bus to head back to Alicante at noon and were home by 6.  I took a long nap and then went to watch the Super Bowl.  One of the bars nearby put on an excellent party.  We got to watch the game with English commentary, but we missed the commercials.  Definitely wasn’t the end of the world, because YouTube had them all right away.  I liked the Darth Vader VW one, and of course the one with Eminem. 
This is my first week of my second set of classes.  I’m taking Spanish Art, Spanish Lit, and Advanced Conversation.  I'll also be starting flamenco classes tonight.  Don't hold your breath for video of that.
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Grandpa on

Elaine, when at various times you look back on your life, you will see a continuous ricochet between the lame/responsible and the imprudent.

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