*Journal Entry: Feb. 19, 2012*
GRANADA: DAY 1
I went on a trip with my program this past Friday & Saturday to Granada! It was about a 3-hour bus ride there, and the scenery and landscapes that I saw as we drove were beautiful. Forget strawberries! Olive fields forever. As we neared Granada there were more and more mountains, and then we started catching glimpses of snow-capped ones as well. Granada started out as a fortress, so that’s why it was built at a high altitude (like Toledo and Gibraltar).
The city itself is beautiful. Surrounded on all sides by towering snow-capped mountains, Granada is actually much smaller than Sevilla. It has more of a relaxed, bohemian attitude, and the people aren’t much into fashion and city life the way the Sevillanos are. Many of the students in my program kept saying how they could imagine themselves living there, and I understood perfectly why. I wish we could have stayed longer! Granada certainly has a special charm about it.
A small group of us decided to go explore the city, and we passed by an alleyway where there was a man on the side of the street strumming on his Spanish guitar and singing flamenco. My friend Kevin and I turned to each other with an expression on our face that could be likened to that of a child on Christmas morning. We instantly decided to stroll past the man, and I had to film it. Next, we came across a market that was selling a variety of fruits, veggies and meats. I had already been to the market in Sevilla (check out the pictures in one of my previous posts!), so I was able to identify some of the fruits that don’t exist in the United States. I noticed one such fruit, a chirimoya, and told my friends how delicious it was, and that they needed to try it. They bought one and split it amongst themselves, and afterwards did not stop thanking me for recommending it. It’s so good! You don’t eat its green exterior, but its white interior is juicy and sweet with big black seeds that you need to spit out. I can’t really describe its exact flavor… I guess you’ll just have to come visit Spain to find out! 😉
We also got to eat some great tapas, and afterwards enjoyed the most wonderful ice cream. The ice cream displays in Granada were some of the best I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think a single one of the Americans resisted. Then, while we were enjoying our ice cream, a Jewish Russian/American Cuban man named Jacob who had lived most of his life in Brazil but was now living in Spain with his wife approached us and wanted to practice his English, so we chatted with him for about 30 minutes. And then….
Then we discovered the Arab Market. And I never wanted to leave. It was this huge maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with dimly-lit orange- and red-hued shops. These shops were owned by heavily-accented merchants selling beautiful Moroccan and Arabic wares, and the whole area smelled of burning incense and oils. My first inclination was to clap my hands and spin in a circle while hopping from foot to foot and emitting a high-pitched squeal of excitement, but you’ll be proud of me, because I refrained. Instead, I grabbed my friends and marched right into the nearest shop. It was sensory overload, and I loved every second of it.
We eventually had to high-tail it out of there to meet up with the rest of the group for dinner (all-you-can-eat Spanish buffet? Um, yes.), which was followed by a stroll up the mountain to see Spanish gypsies performing flamenco in a cave.
Let me repeat that for you. Spanish. Gypsies. Flamenco. Cave. OH. MY. GAWD.
It was, as expected, one of the greatest highlights of my trip so far. And we all got a free drink! Una sangria, por favor.
But, I have to say, everything I have mentioned was completely overshadowed by the last thing we did that night. More about that in a bit.