Road to Southern Espania

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our train left this morning at 9:05 so we had to be up early in order to take the metro into the station in time.  Surprisingly we made it through security ok.  I had the genius idea of turning the sword sideways so it doesn't look like anything and putting some other metal stuff on top of it like power cords and adapters.  More than likey the guy just wasn't paying attention.Trains take forever in Spain.  No more Japanese bullet trains or French TGVs.  The Spainish countryside is beautiful though.  Lots of hills, fields and trees.  Every once and a while we would pass old walled medieval cities and ruins of castles.  One of the best parts of this whole crazy trip has been taking these train trips throughout the countries.  Granada is a city in southern Spain, not quite all the way to the sea.  The reason we were going there was to see a place called Al-Hambra, which is a huge palace/fortress/garden that is supposed to be amazing.  Granada was ruled by Muslims for over 700 years until Charles V took over in the 1500s, so there is a large Arab influence here.  Also, while we were stuck in the rain yesterday we met a lady from Florida who said that Granada is supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.We are getting pretty good at finding hotels on the fly.  We took a packed bus into town from the train station and wandered around the main square until we found a hotel.  Granada is a big backpackers town.  Probably because it is warm and there is a lot of culture, but mostly because it is a lot cheaper than anywhere else we have been to in Europe by a ton.  There really weren't too many hotels to choose from, but there were a bunch of hostels and pensions.  We went in a couple hotels, but they were either too expensive or had no rooms available for two nights, so we went in a hostel right on the main square.  It turns out it was nothing like a hostel that you think of with bunk beds and a million kids.  Mostly it was just smaller rooms with shared bathrooms.  We splurged the extra 5 euros and got our own big room on the corner with a balcony overlooking the town square and our own bathroom.  All for 40 euros a night.  Can't beat that.  And honestly this bed is more comfortable than all of the hotel beds we've had lately.  We have been dying to try paella, which is a spanish rice dish, famous to us from Seinfeld.  (George's Mom: "WHAT ABOUT THE PAELLA??)  Its not bad, kind of like a jumbalaya.  It was still kind of rainy today, so we went to get our Al-Hambra tickets for tomorrow.  You're supposed to get them in advance because they only let in so many people a day, I've heard around 8,000 people.  We ended up being too late still, sort of.  The normal tickets were sold out until Saturday, but we were able to get day tickets to see the gardens and grounds, then night tickets for the palace.  So we end up seeing everying, just not until 10pm.  Which works.Side note: We got ice cream and they had Ferro Roche ice cream which was awesome.The hostel also had internet, so we spent most of the afternoon playing on it.  It has been a long time since we've had it.  Europe was been a surpisingly difficult place to get internet in.  Every place we went to in Asia had it, and most of the places in the Middle East.  The hotels have it here, they just normally charge like 20 bucks a day.  The NBA playoffs are going on right now, and they don't seem to be going very well, but on a bright note, it looks like the Cavs got the 1st and 4th picks in the draft for next year, and the Indians are still (how?) in first place.For dinner we finally did tapas right.  It is a great place to do it too, since here when you go someplace if you order a drink you get free tapas.  So we went to a few different places trying a bunch of different stuff. When we decided to come to Granada the other day, we weren't sure if it was worth all of the travel, but so far its been great.  Laid back and fun. 
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