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The Flying Dutchman

A Spanish Farewell

SPAIN | Tuesday, 9 March 2010 | Views [959] | Comments [2]

The morning after Morocco, we said goodbye to all of our new friends, and took a bus to the next city, and then caught a train to Granada. The countryside on this train ride was beautiful - we found the mountains! We arrived at the train station in Granada, and the directions to our hostel told us to take a bus there, so we tried to find the buses for a little while. By the time we found the bus stop, and our bus showed up, it was rush hour. Alice and I, when fully loaded up, take up the space of about 6 people, so when the bus pulled up and everybody was already uncomfortable crammed inside, we just knew we would be walking. It turned out to be a nice walk down one of Granada's main roads though, with a view of the snow-capped mountains above the city, and it wasn't even that far.


We arrived at our hostel, which was in Granada's Arabic Quarter (it reminded me of good old Morocco, which felt like just yesterday) and found our room. For supper that night an Italian guy who works in the hostel MADE legit pasta (from scratch) and gnocchi and that's what we ate and it was probably better than any of the pasta that we had had when we actually were in Italy. (sidenote from Alice: this man was amazing – he fed an entire hostel full of hungry people with HOMEMADE delights and shared the recipes with all of us!)


After supper, we were heading up to our room when someone yelled and ran up to us. It was Chris and Yao from our last hostel!  (sidenote from Alice: I don’t think these two were ever introduced by name in our last blog, but these two were some people we had met in the hostel in Tarifa. Tarifa was a lot like a big family) They had decided to come to Granada for a day, and just happened to be staying at the same hostel as us, and just happened to run into them. In celebration of what was obviously fate, we got some of the FREE tapas that Granada is famous for, and then: a night on the town!


The next day we headed up to see the crowning glory of Granada, the Alhambra. We had read a quote somewhere, that if you die without seeing the Alhambra, you haven't lived, so we thought we would make our lives worthwhile. We had been told a couple horror stories about people who book their entrance time, and then show up a minute after they are supposed to, and are denied entry, so we made sure that this would not be happening to us. We made our way up to the top of the hefty hill that supports the Alhambra, and entered the gates of the park 15 minutes before we had to. We strolled through the luscious gardens peacefully, until Alice remembered that her sister had told her that we had to be at the entrance of the castle complex, not just the gardens, before our set time. Our peaceful stroll soon became a gallop, and then a full-on sprint, as we had precious minutes to get to the entrance. The difficulty was in that the signage was not up to par, and there were two main hills that the gardens straddled, and the castle was on one of them, we just didn't know which one. At one point in our mad rush to get to the castle we tried to take a short-cut through a hedge garden, which we soon discovered was actually a labyrinth. We quickly found ourselves lost in this labyrinth, but still running in circles trying to get out. Soon enough, we had freed ourselves from the maze and decided that we were on the wrong hill, so we hightailed it over to the other one, making it to our destination with mere seconds to spare, and we entered the Alhambra as planned.


The Alhambra reminded us much of the Alcazar in Sevilla (we are getting to be old-Spanish-castle snobs), with its mix of architectural styles, changed rulers throughout its history, moorish stronghold era, and was everything we expected it to be. It however, had an awesome view of the entire region, which we tend to love. As Alice was still recovering from her Spanish Influenza and at this stage sounded like a man who had been smoking for far too many years, we wandered to the train station to reserve our spots on the train the next day and then returned back to the hostel. Alice happily undertook the Spanish tradition of a siesta once again.


That night was the night of the superbowl, and we happily sent our American friends off to a pub to watch it, but we had a train to catch early in the morning (sidenote from Alice: and I was still dying), so we called it a night, and got some much-appreciated rest.


The next day we hopped on another of those wonderful Spanish high-speed trains, and moseyed on into Madrid, a city of 5 million people. I found it interesting that as we were entering the city there were fields, and then there were high-rise apartment buildings on the edge of the fields. It was country, and then you blinked, and it was Madrid.


We've been lucky with hostels, and this one was no exception: great location, great people, great price. Come to think of it, that should be their slogan. That night Alice went out for dinner with her cousin, who happened to be in the neighbourhood, while I had to stay at the hostel and hold down the fort. I found my way to the chill-out room where I met a bunch of people from all over the world, and we just happened to know all the same drinking games, so we took advantage of the hostel's free sangria and got to know each other that way. Alice eventually showed up and joined in as well. That night we all went out together and had a grand old time!


The next day Alice and I went to see the sights of Madrid, which we could cry over because Alice was leaving the next day. First stop: El Palacio Real de Madrid. It is a giant palace with a courtyard and stuff. We took a tour of the inside. I have never seen so much gold in my life. (I still say that now, and I just watched Canada in the Olympics, BOOYA! btw) But ya, golden EVERYTHING. Chandeliers and gold and gems and thrones and halls and paintings and anything else expensive you could think of, it was all in there. It was truly spectacular. I don't really know why it was there, whose it was, or how they were so flippin' rich, but it was insane.


We then walked down Gran Via, the main street in Madrid, and saw some beautiful architecture, as well as picked up a few souvenirs. We finally came to a serene park, a sanctuary from the hustle bustle of the city, with a lake and some statues and paddle-boats and pretty old buildings. We sat and thought about the amazing month we had shared in Europe, and how quickly it had flown by (and haha I get two more of those!). We indulged in our final traditional cuisine, Churros with chocolate. Churros are a doughy type of donutish type stick thing that traditionally in Spain you dip in a cup of delicious melted chocolate. Yes, it is as good as it sounds.


We had an early night that night as we both had to rise early in the morning. The next morning we got up at what felt like 3 am but I'm sure was really more like 6, and we yawned and hugged goodbye, and Alice went to the airport and flew hoooooome. (sidenote from Alice: Neil makes this sound so casual – it was more like 62 hours of no leg-room and the fear of snow storms ruining my trip, but we wont get into that.)Tear.


Thanks for an awesome month of traveling Alice, same time next year?? (sidenote from Alice: Traveling in Europe is almost impossible to say no to. I may just need to sell an arm or a leg to get there. Until then, farewell lovely blog readers!). 

Tags: alhambra, alice berents, granada, madrid, neil loewen, palacio real de madrid




''I have never seen so much gold in my life. (I still say that now, and I just watched Canada in the Olympics, BOOYA! btw)''
Nail, you just made my life.
I hope to -one day soon- make a reappearance in ''The Blog''
fingers crossed!

  Kendra Jae Mar 9, 2010 9:50 AM



  Tanner Markin Mar 9, 2010 11:36 AM

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