Sunday, February 15, 2009

csenka en granada!

New pictures are online!!

Sunday I set out on a post-comida (and therefore, stupid) mission to find an open phone house or mercado to restock los minutos de me mobil (buy more cell phone minutes, cause i'm all oout). I knew the chancs of anything being open were ... well there wasn't really any chance at all, but it looked gorgeous outside so I decided a walk would be a good idea. I wandered around "looking" for any tienda abierta (open store) that could revive my phone ... and was unsuccessful. But, I didn't care because it is about 60 degrees and sunny outside and everyone in Granada was out. Accordian players, guitar players, families, couples (lots and lots of post-valentine's day hand holding, so cute), and everyone in between were out at cafes, restaurants, or taking a walk around our city. I decded it would be a waste to just go back home and chill in the apartment, so I grabbed a cafe con leche para llegar (coffee to go) ... which is not normal here, people do not eat in the streets here, I've seen maybe three people this entire time walking in the street with food or drink (with the exception of the time block between 2 and 7 am, then everything's fair game. I took my confused-stare-worthy cafe to the park by Trini's and plopped down on a bench next to the big fountan/pond-like thing in the middle of it and just sipped my cafe and people watched. Sundays in Spain are slowly becoming one of my favorite things, everything is completely relaxed and cheerful (unlike in the states, when I HATE sundays because it means I will be sitting in magill all day exhausted and unproductive).

Anyways, this weekend was soo much fun. Not only was it Valentine's Day weekend, which I love because honestly you can say what you want about commercialism and whatnot but I think a holiday is what YOU make of it and I think taking a day to appreciate all the love surrounding you in your life that you generally take for granted is a pretty great idea. Add in some chocolate and I'm sold. Vday is not as awful as people make it out to be, but that's just me.

Back on track: Csenka visited this weekend! I never get to see her at home because Canadians are whack and U of Toronto's calender/breaks never coincide with most of mine, I saw Csenka for one night over Christmas break and one day this summer literally right before she left to go back up north. So getting a weekend with her in Granada was extra exciting! She got in around 7pm and Amanda and I met up with her post-shopping (I bought two very cute shirts, I'm super excited about them) and walked her to her hostel which is a quarter of the way up the hill to the alhambra and right across the street from plaza nueva ... aka prime real estate for visiting me. We gave her some time to take a shower and de-airplaneify herself and then met up with a bunch of IES kids for tapas at cafe europa. the tapas are always good there, but the bartender DOES NOT like me at all. She glared at me every time I ordered and and gave us the bad tapas instead of the normally delicious ones. When Dio went up to order our last round she gave him PIZZA. Seriously, don't bartend if you're gonna play favorites. After that we went to Paddy's for the obligatory 12-1 happy hour, there was a live band playing with a guitarist, keyboardist, and a guy playing an instrument resembling a sitar ... not sure what it was. I just chilled out and split a sex on the beach with csenks and enjoyed the ambience of Paddys haha. The boys split off to call it a night and a lot of the other kids planned to go up to the Sierra Nevada all day Saturday so they headed back early too. Amanda, Csenka, Joya and I ventured up to Calle Principe to check out a small and very very spanish club we had heard of. It was really fun just because there were probably a total of ten americans in the entire building, all the music was spanish (I'm slowly starting to recognize the more popular spanish songs featured in all the clubs thus far). We only stayed til 4 ish because csenks and I had a huge day of sight seeing planned for the next day.

Saturday I got up bright and early and met csenka for tostada y cafe con leche at 1045. Afterwards we explored the cathedral, a small church, and the chapel where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella's tombs are. These were all, needless to say, gorgeous. If being Catholic ment I could be in a building like the cathedral for a few hours each week I'd be tempted to convert. The tombs of Isabella and Ferdinand were probably my favorite sight of the morning, above the actual coffins were these huge marble shrine-like statues of the king and queen lying ontop of their coffins. The decorations were so cool and intricate, but apparently Napoleon and his troops rainsacked the tomb at one point and vandelized these statues, so fingers were missing along with horse heads and various other bits and pieces. Way to go Napoleon, ruin it for everyone. (we weren't allowed to take pictures, so I've got nothin sadly) The room next to the tombs held what was left of Isabella's personal art collection (again, nice job Napoleon), her huge and colorful prayerbook, the King's saber and crown, and one of Isabella's and one of Ferdinand's heavy robes. It was amazing to be in the same room as these pieces of art, it's insane to think that they are over 500 years old!

Afterwards we made our way to the Alhambra. It was a gorgeous day, probably around mid sixies ... warm enough that we had to take our coats off ... and not a cloud in the sky :). On the way up we passed by my new favorite type of street performer, guys who paint their entire face and arms metallic silver, wear all silver, and pretend to be robot-statues. They stay perfectly still and then suddenly start making Wall-e noises and moving around mechanically. I tried to take a video of one, but since I didn't give him euros, he didn't give me a show. Lame. But they were all over the place, I had seen them walking around earlier in the week but I just thought they were crazy drugged out hippies because they had on normal clothing, but silver faces ... now I know the reason behind the craziness haha.

Anyways, Csenks and I finally made it to the Alhambra (after hiking up the wrong side of the hill and discovering that we could see the Alhambra, but it was on the exact opposite side of the mountain). It's completely uphill for about 20 min to get there, and when we finally arrived the box office man (not so) kindly told us we were idiots and had tickets for 830/930 in the morning, not 130 in the afternoon. To enter the palaces of the Alhambra you buy a ticket for a time and then have from that time until 30 min later to enter the palaces, for crowd control I'm guessing, but that's your window of opportunity and if you miss it then you miss out. We had to buy new tickets for 430 and just visited the Generallife Jardins (gardens) since we were already up there. The gardens were pretty, the pictures I took should speak for themselves.

Starving, we hiked down the huge hill and met up with Amanda for lunch at Seis Pequneas. I ordered the menu of the day, so we had tapas (chips and a few slices of chorizo), free shots of some liqour to cleanse our palates, then a mixed salad (beats, iceburg lettuce, carrots, a lil tuna, tomatoes, cucumbers, viniger dressing), paella valencean (rice, beans, mussels, shrimp, chicken leg), followed by lomo de cerdo (porkchop with potatoes and cooked/buttered carrots and green beans) and then for dessert a pear cooked in red wine with whipped cream and chocolate. Plus the Spanish love their bread, so we each had our own loaf of Italian bread. Amanda ordered the same meal I did (for 8.25 euro). And Csenks got the Tortilla de Verduras (vegetarean Spanish omellete) that had every kind of vegetable imagineable in it, and was enormous. Stuffed Csenks and I split off from Amanda and headed back to the Alhambra. I grabbed a coffee on the way to avoid an inevitable siesta-while-standing before the hike up.

Buying the new tickets for the Alhambra: completely worth it. The Alhambra is breath takingly gorgeous, fascinating, and unlike anything I've seen before. I feel like I'm constantly saying that previous phrase, but I guess I'm just being exposed to a lot. We took a few hours to go through it, and I took a lot of pictures because I honestly can't put into words how incredible it is. The Islamic and Muslim art and architecture is so complex and detailed, every ceiling is carved symmetrically and perfectly. The main colors used throughout the Alhambra are blue for heaven, red for blood, and yellow for gold. And many of the walls have the phrase "Only Allah is Victorious" carved in Arabic Calligraphy over and over and over again (it's the only phrase carved throughout the Alhambra). Csenka and I brought Rick Steve's guide to Espana with us so we had our own self-guided tour, it was great because we actually knew what we were looking at whereas the other Americans around us (students) had none whatsoever. Moo and Dids when you guys come I wanna go back with you, I feel like the Alhambra is a place you have to keep going back to in order to get the most out of it, especially since this time I was just dumbstruck by how gorgeous it is.

Afterwards we hiked down to Plaza Nueva and met up with Amanda around 700, and hiked back up into the Albacin ( part of Granada right behind IES) and want to the plaza de san nicolas. It overlooks the Alhambra and you can sit there and watch the sunset and the Alhambra lights turn on at the same time, it's pretty neat. The Albacin is home to many hippies, and so we were surrounded by weed smoking, guitar playing Spaniards who were there to take in the sunset. We sat on the ledge of a big stone wall, with a pretty big drop underneath us ... Csenka straddled it instead of sitting all the way on it because of how high up we were haha. While hanging out I chatted with a guy and his girlfriend next to me who were Spanish and visiting Granada for the first time. He had studied English for awhile so if I couldn't think of a word I could say it in english and he could get an idea of what I was saying. We just talked about things to do in Granada, Obama (of course), and speaking Spanish. It was really cool, it made me realize how far my Spanish is coming!

After an hour or so we headed back to Trini's and then met up with Joya for tapas. We went to a Morroccan Tapas Bar (mom, dad, ben ... I'm taking you there when you guys visit) and it was beyond delicious. It was packed with people (first sign it was gonna be awesome). We had chicken shawarma as our first tapas, amazing fallafel (sp?) as our second, and hummus on bread as our third. The best part was you can choose what tapas you want, there's an entire menu, and you can get extra for 1 euro more (we didnt though). So so so good. We finished around 12 and dropped csenka off (she had to leave at 640 the next morning so couldnt come out) and Amanda went home too. Joya and I took a cab further downtown to meet up with the boys and then hit up a discoteca.

Saturday night was soo much fun because we met a lot of the Spanish kids from the residencia (who up until now had exams and didn't go out). Speaking Spanish while drinking and dancing is hard and tiring, but soo exciting at the same time! We went to a few bars (one was the PLAYMOBIL BAR!! It was themed after those expensive little toys I was obsessed with for a couple years cuando era un nina). We tried to get into Mae West, but it was 330 and the club was packed and they weren't letting anyone else in, so we ended up at Kapital until 645 am. I danced with one of the Spanish guys and have learned that I am terrible at the Salsa and need to learn it very quickly, but he was really nice and helped me a lot haha. My goal had been to get back to Gran Via Ave right when Csenks would be catchin her bus, but I missed her. Jose (one of the Spanish guys), Joya, and I all split a cab home. By the time I got home my body was aching from all the hiking around and dancing, so sleeping felt great!

This week has been stressful so far, but more on that in another post tomorrow, promise!
hasta luego

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