Viva España!

Since last Wednesday, I have been in Spain on holiday. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I needed that week and a half in the sun and away from Aberdeen. Since my mom came to visit me for Spring Break, I literally hadn’t left Scotland since the beginning of January. Cabin Fever would be an under-statement, although The Shining would be an exaggerated comparison, thank goodness.

Anyway, I have a very gracious friend, Diego, living in Alicante with his beautiful family, who let me stay with them for my time in Spain. I also took the opportunity on the weekend to visit Granada, a small town about a five-hour bus ride west of Alicante. With the exception of the Blister Debacle (see my previous post), the trip was perfect. I saw lots of beautiful places, ate lots of delicious food, and enjoyed some yummy sangria and mojitos.

I spent two days at the beach in Alicante—one toward the beginning of my stay and one toward the end. Despite using sunscreen, I knew my body was going to flip at the presence of such glorious sunshine (and it did), so I had to space out the intense sun days. So, between spending days at the beach I mostly wandered around town. I visited the port, the old town, the Castilla de Santa Barbara (with a stroller!), the shopping area (of course), and other small neighborhoods including the gypsy area and the “dog park”. Don’t worry, I had a dog with me when I visited the dog park.

 The castle was very pretty and had a great view overlooking Alicante. I did have to chuckle, though, at the fact that, all around town, there are banners and posters for the Pirate Exhibit at the castle, but when we got to the exhibit, we realized they had spent more money on the posters that they had on the exhibit. Not to mention that the English translation of all the information was poorly done, so I’m not entirely sure I learned much. Oh well, the humorous part was letting Diego’s son, Jorge, loose in the exhibit. That made up for it all in my mind.

In Granada, I stayed at a nice little hostel in the Albaycin area of town. It was literally at the base of the hill to La Alhambra, so it was definitely in a good location. While I was there I did more walking around (surprise, I know, but if you know me, you know getting lost on foot is how I explore). Granada is a funny town because of its heavy Muslim influence compared to the rest of Spain. It’s also funny because it’s quite hilly when you leave the main roads, but when you’re looking at a map you would never guess it. Also, in the afternoons, whenever you order a drink, you get free tapas. (jackpot). My hostel ran some tours pretty regularly, so I went on the Street Art (a.k.a. Graffiti) tour and the Tapas Tour. To be honest, I could have done without the Street Art tour. Nevertheless it was cool to see how creative some people are with spray paint. The Tapas Tour was lots of fun. I think we had about 12 people (mostly Australians, a couple British, a couple French, and me). It was hilarious to listen to the conversations had over drinks, especially between the two outspoken male Aussies.

La Alhambra is a crazy place. It is a palace that sits at the top of the city, and while it was originally constructed by Muslims, the Spanish (Catholics) took over after forcing the Muslims out of Spain. General Disclaimer: I’m not a history teacher, so if you want more information, I suggest you google it. The architecture and attention to detail is absolutely amazing. I’ve visited a lot of castles in my travels, but I’ve never seen one like that. During the middle of the day, it gets beyond hot up there on the hill, so I didn’t explore the gardens as much as some other people, but I saw the highlights. Since I’ve seen a lot of gardens in my travels as well, I was inclined to think of these as just some more gardens. And although they don’t stand out particularly in my mind, they are definitely worth wandering through.

Also, while in Granada, the Spain vs. Italy football match (soccer game, for all you North Americans) was on. I was initially planning to go out to watch it at a bar, but my feet were killing me, so I rolled the dice and decided to stay at my hostel and watch it. It turned out well though, because the employees moved the big screen from the tiny dining area out into the bigger common area and many of the guests turned out to watch it. It was also fun to see the employees invested in the game, especially the one guy who was still on duty and would sprint back and forth from the front desk when someone buzzed in. It ended in a draw, but it was really intense and fun to watch.

Last night, Spain played Ireland and, while I skipped the first half to go drink mojitos on the beach with Diego and Esther (Jorge had a bottle), we got back just in time to see Spain’s third and fourth goal and celebrate the victory with a bang on their gong in the front entry way.

One of the biggest things I noticed during this holiday was how important non-verbal communication is. I don’t speak Spanish really at all. I know basics like greetings and numbers, but that’s pretty much it. My background in French gave me the tools to listen for similarities and translate from there, but it’s hard sometimes when the locals speak so fast! So, I took most of my cues from hand gestures, facial expressions and other types of non-verbal communication. It’s definitely helpful that no matter the language, it’s generally universal.

All in all, I had a great holiday. I have a good start on a tan, I’ve soaked up enough Vitamin D to last me until mine and Nikki’s trip home in July, and I’ve had the chance to decompress from school and write for fun a bit more. I cannot even begin to thank my wonderful hosts enough for everything they did for me (although I did write a thank you card and plan on sending goodies they’re way this weekend). It doesn’t always work out for everyone, but my parting advice, especially after this trip, is to take advantage of your friends in far-reaching places. Sometimes it’s the best way to relax, learn and experience new things.

And on a final note, I’d like to give out an award for best pick-up “line” of the year (maybe decade). As many of you know, I despise cat-calling. So, when guys are courageous and have the guts to actually talk to me, I like to give them at least a little bit of credit. My first day in Granada, I went to have lunch by myself in the touristy area of town (something I’m used to by now). My server was a little old Spanish man who spoke very little English. However there were two nearby, younger, male servers who spoke some and made conversation every now and then.

Server 1: You are finished?
Me: Yes. Thank you.
Server 2: Would you like coffee? Dessert?
Server 1: The two of us?
{General Laughter}
Me: Yes! {with a hint of sarcasm}
Server 2: It’s not for free. {Smiling}
Me: Damn.
Server 1: How about a mojito?

Ah, the way to my heart is through a good mojito. 😉 Well done, gentleman. Well done.

 

P.S. Photos will go up under the photo tab later tonight. 

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