Last weekend I fell in love. No, sadly, I did not have some sexy Spanish man come and sweep me off my feet (at least, not yet anyway!). In fact, I actually fell in love with a city. I went to visit my friend Becca in Granada who is a friend from my uni course. Granada is now my favourite city because it is so beautiful everywhere you look and there are some amazing views from various parts of the city outskirts too. Becca and I somehow spent the whole weekend saying “If I had a boyfriend I would want him to take me on a date here” but as we’re both single ladies, there was a sense of optimism in the air instead of romance! I feel like I had the most perfect weekend doing everything Spanish so I’ll give you a day by day summary.
After a super boring 5 hour coach journey, I arrived in Granada about 8pm. I met Becca and we headed across the city to her flat in the Albayzín which is one of the most beautiful areas of the city. There are loads of small streets and cobbled floors with a river running through it and a view of the Alhambra (massive Arab influenced palace). As I’d arrived quite late, we went out for some stereotypical Spanish tapas and sangria/tinto de verano which I’m going to miss doing when I’m back in England!
As Becca is part of Erasmus Granada, I tagged along with her and her friends on a trip to Nerja for the day. 200 Erasmus students piled into coaches and embarked on an hour and a quarter journey to the Marbella coastline. It was only 10€ for travel there and back, drinks all day (juice, sangria, beer and a mojito) and a sandwich. The sandwich was possibly the most disgusting, soggy sandwich I’ve ever laid eyes on so we went and got burgers and pizza instead. It was lovely to meet her friends and felt really good to be able to speak in my normal fluent, fast English and be understood!! In the afternoon we rented a paddle boat with a slide on it so my underwater camera got it’s first swim in the sea! I’m so used to being scared of getting electronics wet that it took me a while to stop worrying whenever there was a drop of water on it!
On our way back we went to Mirador Cerro Gordo which was basically just a viewing point. From here we could see beautiful coastlines with the sunset and get some nice pictures. There was one little restaurant at this mirador called El Cerro Gordo (The Fat Hill/Moutain) where people could dine with the most amazing sights.
Once we got home we were absolutely shattered but decided we still wanted to go out and party. We had predrinks with 2 of her friends (Emily and Sarah) and then Becca, Emily and I headed out to a smallish club called ElCambori. As you walk in, you go up some stairs to a small terrace with chairs and tables, then you go up to another terrace with more chairs and tables and a bar and a building that has the dancefloor and another bar. The best part was that you could see the whole Alhambra from the terrace and it was all lit up and beautiful. The club played some of my favourite Spanish songs from this year as well as some of the best English ballads (yes, Queen was played and I sang EVERY word!)
|Chicas en la playa!
|Club with a view!
After a nice lie in we started to work our way through our Granada to-do list. We first headed for the cathedral which is currently the 8th biggest cathedral in the world and it was amazing!! I’m not really a religious person but I love seeing the insides of cathedrals and appreciating all the amazing architecture and ornate decorations. We then went and looked at one part of the Dobla de Oro which is a collection of historical buildings around the Albayzín that are protected by UNESCO. After sharing the most amazing extra mozzarella pizza we went home for a mini siesta because it had reached 34 degrees and we really needed to cool down for a bit.
In the afternoon we went to the FredericoGarcía Lorca Park which has García Lorca’s summer house in the middle that’s open for visitors. I’ll be honest and say that I have never read anything by García Lorca but he is one of the most famous Spanish writers so I probably should! In the centre of the park is the García Lorca family summer home that has now been turned into a museum. The house was furnished as it was in the 1950’s (minus two rooms that were filled with old photos) and it was so simplistic but gorgeous. We next headed for the Alhambra. Sadly, due to its popularity, it was completely booked up unless we queued for tickets at half six in the morning. We went to the part that we free for all so we still got to see a little bit and got some pictures with the views.
Just before sunset, two of Becca’s flatmates (Steve and Simon – both French), Becca and I went to the Saint Nicholas viewing point (Mirador de San Nicolas) which has amazing views of the Alhambra and the Albayzín. The only downside was that because it’s bank holiday weekend, there were a LOT of groups and couples there so it was hard to get a good picture of all of it. The four of us then hiked up a massive hill to another viewing point (no idea what the name is) which has views of the whole of Granada! We stayed up there for a couple of hours eating our picnic and drinking. We attempted to tell jokes but it ended up just being bad Spanish translations of English and French jokes. I told one Spanish joke but no one understood it and once I explained it, it wasn’t funny anymore. ‘La noche de bromas’ (jokes night) was a fail but we laughed at ourselves enough to compensate!
|The kitchen in Garcia Lorca’s house
|The Alhambra from the St Nicholas viewing point
|Steve, Becca, Me and Simon with the Alhambra behind
Normally when I go for a weekend away I wake up Monday morning absolutely shattered from having such a busy few days but we decided to have a relaxing morning on Sunday. A very relaxing morning indeed! Andalucía (the region that Granada is in) is very heavily influenced by the Arabic culture and this is very prominent in the architecture around the whole city. Alongside that, the Arabs also brought with them baths. We went to Hammam Baños Árabes which was 25€ each for a student and included 2 hours in the baths (one cold, two hot and one warm) and then a massage of our choice. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in and we spend the whole morning relaxing and drinking mint flavoured green tea. We couldn’t take any photos so have a look at the link! I had a very nice back and arm massage which, for me, was such a nice change to the usual painful sports massages I normally have for my bad shoulders. After lunch in La Plaza de los Tristes (The Square of the Sad People) and seeing 2 more buildings that form the Dobla de Oro, I went to catch my bus home.
|Dobla de Oro
|Dobla de Oro
|What I was taking a picture of in the Dobla de Oro
|There were so may beautiful dresses around,
we couldn’t help ourselves!
I would love to visit Granada again but maybe for a bit longer. On Sunday there was a festival called Las Cruces de Mayo (The May Crosses) so on Saturday and Sunday there was loads of flamenco going on and hundreds of women and girls dressed in the traditional flamenco dress (flamenco originates in Andalucía) as well as men riding horses through the streets with their Spanish hats on. I think this is definitely the most stereotypical Spanish weekend I’ve ever had!
A few people who read my last blog post seem to suddenly be concerned for me thinking I hate it here. I DON’T HATE IT!! I’m going to expand on the point my mum has been telling people to make it more relatable. It’s like seeing a new film in the cinema. Let’s say that a day is one minute so my teaching contract of 8 months (minus Christmas and Easter) is approx. 206 minutes long. I’ve known that I was going to be doing a year abroad in Spain since I was about 16 so 5 years = 1,825 days = 30 hours more or less.
Avatar: extended cut is 206 minutes long. Imagine if you’d been looking forward to watching Avatar for 30 hours non-stop and everyone is telling you it’s the best film of your life etc. You then go to the cinema (on your own or maybe one classmate), you get your popcorn and you’re ready to enjoy it. The film can go one of two ways; you absolutely love the majority of it and maybe think once about needing a wee OR you think to yourself “this is just a weird version of Pocahontas but with blue aliens and machine guns”. You may still appreciate the graphics, learn something new, laugh at some funny parts, cry at the end etc but as a whole, it hasn’t lived up to the hype. Don’t think I hate it – I would probably do it again if I had the choice because I have done so many new things, my Spanish has improved loads, I’ve met some great people etc but it’s just not the “best year of my life” like I was told it would be.
|Shoutout to the random photographer who got this amazing
picture of us at the Alhambra laughing!
Also, I promise there’s a blog post about my pole competition coming soon. I just really want to post the blog once I have my professional video!