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Tonielle's European Adventure "It's always better on holiday, so much better on holiday. That's why we only work when... we need the money." - Franz Ferdinand

Tapas, sangria and having a gay ol' time

SPAIN | Thursday, 9 July 2009 | Views [1423]

Hi everyone,

Granada was the next stop of my Spanish journey, and when I left you last I was on a train that ended up being delayed by three hours, making it an 11 hour journey! So by the time I got into town, it was 10.30pm and the directions by bus that I had were useless to me. I ended up getting my first taxi of the trip, costing me 10euro, but I’m so glad I did. Turns out my hostel is on the city hill in the old town of Alhambra, and it would have been a pretty horrific walk. I met a few characters in Granada, my taxi driver looked about 18 and he kept trying to talk to me even though he spoke no English and honked his horn at other taxis “my amigo!” he’d say. Then there was the hostel receptionist, an Irish guy who was more keen on chatting than checking-in three of us that had just arrived from the train, even though we all had looks of defeat on our faces from the day we just had… he was cute though, so he got away with it. The third character of the evening was the owner of the tapas bar we ended up stumbling down the hill to (myself and two Canadian girls that had also just arrived). He was from London, and looked after us with sangria and tapas, including marinated prawns – which I introduced the Canadian girls to – they’d never eaten them before, so I had to show them how to peel them!

After that long day, the next one was a slow one. I made my way down the hill, enjoying the fabulous view of the city, but not the heat so much… the further I’ve traveled into Spain, the hotter it has gotten. Granada was an easy city to explore, lots of little alleyways with little poky shops and then a big cathedral! After a few hours, I may have gone back to the hostel and had a four hour siesta (whoops), but by the time I’d woken up, it had cooled down somewhat at I managed to meet up with the Canadians again, so we went off a mud map the Irish guy gave us of a great tapas bar on the other side of the hill. It turned out to be this cute little bar that looked like a butcher shop from the front (all the meat hanging), but we found some tables out that back, and since we didn’t know what the menu said, just selected the sharing plate. It had a heap of different ham, sausage, salami, cheese and pate - now I’ve never tried pate before (the idea disgusts me), but I was brave and had some, and I have to admit that I quite enjoyed it… although I still couldn’t get past the idea of it!

The next day I got up bright and early and lined up at 7.30am at the gates of the Almambra – the old palace and gardens. It was an amazing sight to see! The palace walls were filled with the most intricate carvings I’ve ever seen… and then the gardens and water fountains outside were beautiful too. I spent a good few hours exploring the grounds before I had to check-out and head down to the train station. The journey was already becoming a disaster when I caught the bus to the train – I missed my stop, and ended up at the end of the line, where the bus driver made me pay again, before I’d drive off and do the route again. This time I got the driver to point it out to me, and I made it… to find that the ticket office had closed for siesta! The two officers in the station were convinced that the train that I wanted to catch at 1pm didn’t go to Seville at all, and that I definitely had to catch the 4pm one. So I sat in the station café, where I met a group of ladies who were in town for a hens weekend, and sat and had a chat until their train left. I figured that I better check if the ticket office was open yet – because I needed to reserve my seat, and yes they were, with a big line. So by the time I got to the front, it was about 10mins before my train was due to leave, for the officer to tell me that the train was full, and the next one was at 8pm that night! I was almost in tears… I can’t wait that long again! So I got my 8pm reservation, and as I was walking out, I thought stuff it, I’m just gunna get on this train! So I walked on with everyone else, and luckily enough I found a couple of seats in between compartments that weren’t numbered and took one of those. I was packing it… what is my excuse/lie gunna be when the ticket officer comes along? Eventually the ticket man comes along and I pass him my eurorail pass, then he asks for the reservation, so I pass it to him. He looks at it and asks in Spanish why I’m not at my seat, and I said that I like this spot better, he smiled stamped my ticket, and I got away with it!!! Somehow he didn’t see the time that the ticket was for, but all the better for me! Haha.

So I finally got to Seville at about 7ish, and walked around for the next hour or so until I found my hostel, hidden in a tiny backstreet. It was an interesting hostel, but had a homely feel of a share house, it also had the first tv I’ve seen in over a month, so I ended up hanging out with people from the hostel, watching superman in Spanish. The next day, I spent it checking out the sights, The old palace was pretty cool (but after the Almambra, not so much) and I met up with a few of the kids from the hostel for a bit of it, before we all lost each other again. The cathedral was pretty sweet, it had it all – an awesome bell tower that you could climb, Christopher Columbus’s tomb and a Guinness Book of Records certificate for the cathedral with the largest area.

That afternoon was spent chillin’ out beside the river in the shade, before I met up with one of the girls in the hostel, and we went to find this Flamanco club I had been told about. At first we couldn’t find it, the street looked so deserted, but we walked past a guy out the front of a door and he saw our lost faces and he asked if we wanted the club, we said “si” and he pointed us through the door. I thought it looked a bit dodgy, the part we could see was empty, but we walked through and then we found the basement room that was packed with people! There was a woman and two men on stage singing and playing guitar, so we joined the throngs of people with a jug of sangria and found a spot. Soon enough the flamenco started, it was pretty cool to see… but she kinda looked like she had Terets or something… lots of very sudden movements, but it sort of worked. The guys were playing guitar, singing and clapping – a lot of the dance has to do with foot stomping and clapping, and it was a good show. They had a break for a while and came back with some more songs and this time, she was dancing with a fan, and it seemed to make it flow better, and it looked fantastic. It would have been great to see a couple dancing or a few ladies, but we got the show for free, so we weren’t complaining. We left around midnight when the show ended and the place became almost empty and enjoyed wandering back to the hostel, the city lit up so nicely.

The next day, I had another train disaster. Taking the trains around France was so easy, the train tracks connected the towns in a logical order and going geographically round the country worked… it doesn’t in Spain! Again, I got a time from the website that worked everytime in France, and the ticket men who couldn’t speak English couldn’t understand what train I wanted to reserve… saying again that that train didn’t go to where I wanted to go – Merida. At my wits end, I tried being creative… ok how bout Lisbon – midnight train - that didn’t work, in the end I got the ticket to Madrid because that was the only way to Merida… on the train though, I decided that I may as well stay in Madrid. I was planning on doing Portugal before the bulls and Madrid after, but it wont hurt to change the order around.

So I arrived in Madrid, with nothing booked… but luckily I had a hostel recommended to me (back in Strasborg… haha) so I got directions to it and turned up there. Luckily they had a bed, so for the next five nights, I was in Madrid. In my room, I met three other Aussies who I ended up having dinner with them that night at a little tapas place. They were a lot of fun, and ended up having a late night with them… not by choice, but because we had six loud American guys in our room also, that packed their bags and got ready to go out until 2.30am… didn’t give a shit that there was someone sleeping, or three others in bed waiting to. Then they arrived home at 5am, waking us all up again… and then again at 9am, we were all woken up by their alarm going off… for the next few hours! I got up, showered, had breakfast and came back, and they were still asleep with their alarm going off… but someone had shoved it under a pillow though (I’m guessing one of the other Aussie girls… you don’t mess with an Aussie), so I really hope they missed where ever they had to be, because that was painful! That day I went to Reina Sophia – the modern art gallery in town… and loved it! I spend at least four hours there, they had some fantastic stuff from Picasso, Dali and local Spanish artists too. It helped that it was air-conditioned too, so I beat the heat outside while enjoying some great modern art.

That night, a group of us from the hostel went out for drinks and dinner at this great bar down the road… more tapas and more sangria! We all ended up at the hostel bar, where we all proceeded to get drunk on 3.50euro 1L cups of sangria. It didn’t help that we were playing “King’s Cup” a drinking game that was fun… but deadly, and ended up wandering the city at 3am, checking out the sights and all the people around. Spainard’s nights are just beginning at 3am!

The next day we were all feeling a little sorry for ourselves, and a bunch of us decided to check out the big park in town with a picnic… as in check out how comfy the grass is for siesta! We enjoyed the shade there for a few hours before we musted up the energy to check out some sights… Alex being our tour guide with his guidebook. Slowly our group dwindled down to three of us, and we decided to find a café to people watch for a while. Our plan was thwarted when we found that unlike Paris with a café on every corner… they aren’t so plentiful in Madrid. Eventually we found a bar in the shade. Alex had announced that morning that I was to be his wingman for the evening, so when I saw two lovely ladies sitting at the table next to us, I told him to ask them what they were drinking (even though it was clearly sangria)… he was like, why don’t you ask them thinking I was just being lazy… and I had to specifically point out to him that they were two very good looking ladies, and I was trying to do my job which will be very hard if he kept being so slow! Eventually he understood, and had asked them, and when ours came out, he invited them to sit with us. They were cool chicks, from America, but of Spanish origin, and we chatted to them for a good while… the boys were doing well, one of the girls even told Matt that he had “eye’s like the ocean”… which was hilarious. Eventually we left and invited them to the hostel that night – and I was surprised that we didn’t see them again that night… I think the boys were disappointed… I thought they were in for sure! ☺

That night was very similar to the night before, except I had even more to drink and got honoured with the Kings Cup also (the cup in the middle that people have to pour their drink in when they get a king card… then the person with the fourth king has to drink it) – which luckily only had Sangria in it that night… but it was pretty nasty. We had fun though. Alex did end up getting lucky too… I saw him with a German girl by the end of the night, maybe not directly from my doing, but I like to think I still completed my job. Hehe.

The next morning I had to get up at 8am to put my name down for a cancelled bed (because Friday and Saturday night’s were booked out). It was a struggle, but it was worth it, I got another bed, and after a recovery lie-in, I eventually left the hostel with Dave, a cool Aussie guy I met and we wandered up town, checking out the cathedral and palace before reaching the park we were after, complete with an Egyptian temple! We had a picnic and siesta, and before we realized it, it was 6.30pm… four hours since we got there! But bonus was, now the temple was reopen (after their four hour siesta also) and we got to check that out which was cool. It was an ancient Egyptian temple that was given to the Spanish people as a gift to say thanks for helping them in rescuing some other temples in Nubia, as you do! It was great inside, hieroglyphics on the walls and the stone had so much character to it… it was amazing to think it was over 2,200 years old.

After that, we made our way back into town and found an area called La Latina, where the girls I met yesterday told me about a great restaurant they went to. I only had a name, so we went into a Pharmacy and asked the staff if they had heard of it. For the next ten minutes, they tried looking it up for us, but they couldn’t find it, so they recommended another one for us, and drew a mud map and everything… they were fantastic! The restaurant they sent us to, was pretty good, but we were the only ones eating – because it was only 9pm… and Spaniads don’t eat dinner till at least after 10pm! Afterwards we walked through Puerta del Sol (the main hub of the city) and enjoyed all the buskers and crazies out! We also found the 0km point that was on the street… it is the point where every distance in Spain is marked from.

The next day we walked though the giant park again and made our way up to a street which the Lonely Planet said was a clothes market… there was a small marque in the middle of the street with about 10 stalls in it! So it took us a minute to look through it, and then made our way back to the park for lunch. Today was also the day of the Gay Pride Parade… so we found the street it started at and enjoyed watching the festivities. It was hilarious! Eventually the parade started at 7.30pm and we found a spot on the road to watch for a few hours, but it took so long! It just wasn’t moving at all… the party buses we saw lined up waiting to go, took two hours before they even started moving through the parade. It was fun, and I’m glad I went, but after a few hours, we left to find dinner… and had paella. It was exactly what we wanted… and although it wasn’t as good as the Valencia paella I had, it was still pretty good. The meal even came with a begger that stood at the front of your table asking for food or money or whatever, while you try to keep the conversation going, hoping that they will leave if you ignore them long enough! It was only after the waiter came outside and made him leave that he did… it was so awkward! I didn’t like it at all, and Dave was saying he was worried he’d stick his finger in the food saying “are you gunna eat that?”, which is what happened to one of his mates once.

We wandered back through town after that and eventually found the gay street party… still going, with a big stage and dj playing. So we danced with the crowd… it was huge… and had a great time spotting all the crazy outfits! The gay boys liked Dave too… with was even more hilarious!


photos of Granada & Seville: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2020959&id=219300161&l=ac059026bd

photos of Madrid: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2021020&id=219300161&l=c324a3fbe5

Tags: granada, madrid, seville, spain

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