I´ve been in Spain for about a week, and with the exception of breakfast and a couple dinners made in hostels, I´ve completely based my meal times off tapas. Why pay for food when I can get a refreshing sangria, filled with fruit, AND a plate of food for three euros?!
Please try not to count how many glasses of sangria this adds up to. Give me a break. I´m on vacation.
Anywho, I met up with Adam, an old roommate from Chico, in Madrid on Wednesday. It´s been nice to have a travel buddy! We spent several nights in Madrid, a couple nights in Sevilla, and a couple in Granada. Traveling by bus between cities has turned out to be pretty easy, and relatively cheap. We´ve had fairly good luck with hostels as well, and have kept the trip cheap by bunking in some of the eight and ten bed dorms.
Sounds obnoxious, but more often than not, it´s been a fun way to meet other travelers, and learn the many varied reasons for and approaches to travel. By some weird chance, everyone except for one girl in our room in Granada was from Northern California. Makes the world feel a bit smaller sometimes.
(Also, sleeping in bunk beds brings me back to the days of summer camp when I was younger. Fun!)
I got in to Madrid, and actually met someone who had just graduated from Chico State as well at the front desk of my hostel. Once again, small world.
Madrid was a big shift from the small-town feel of Venice, but for such an urban setting, I really enjoyed just walking around. I went on a walking tour to get oriented, went to the Prado museum, began my tapas addiction, and tried churros dipped in chocolate for the first time. Soooo goood!
I was feeling a bit under the weather in Madrid, so I took a little down time to rest up for the rest of my travels.
Still feeling a little beat from travel, Adam and I booked a bike tour of Sevilla, which ended up being one of the best ideas we had while we were there. A guide took a small group around on bike and acquainted us with the city, its architecture and history all in about three hours.
Once again, amazing architecture, especially of the cathedral. The architecture has to be one of the most notiable changes in Europe from home. Most buildings at home are fairly modern, wheras Europes are enchantingly old.
Granada quickly became my favorite place in Spain thus far. It´s Arabic influence gives the town a distinct flavor, AND it has the best tapas that I´ve experienced. Very generous helpings, always for free with a drink.
A night tour took us through the Sacramonte, the gypsy neighborhood, and showed us some really incredible views of the Alhambra.
The Alhambra itself, a Muslim-built fortress, was incredible to see. The site took a decent chunk of time and walking uphill to take in because of it’s massive scale, but this was by far my favorite touristy thing thing that I’ve done on this trip.The architecture was incredibly ornate, the gardens were detailed and beautiful, and the view of the city from the top of the fortress was unreal.
Walking around such an old site is quite an experience. It’s crazy to think of the people that passed through the very same halls during their ordinary lives. Kind of difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude of a site when you think about it like that.
For our last night, Adam and I caught a late (midnight) flamenco show at a gypsy cave. For a mere eight euros each, we sat right up front, so close to the stage that when the dancer twirled her skirt furiously, I could feel a slight breeze. Though I attended a flamenco show earlier in Madrid, this one felt much more authentic.
Having danced when I was much younger, I was completely enchanted by the whole experience. The powerful sadness in the voice of the singer, the way the singer and guitarrist played off each other. The way the dancer started some of her pieces with just a robust round of palmas (special kind of clapping), her obvious exhertion by the end of a piece. It was all so incredible to see.
Unfortunately, after I returned from the show, a bad bout of food poisoning kept me up my entire last night, praying fervently to the white porcelain gods. Adam got hit pretty hard too by the morning time. But, we made it out alive, and back to Madrid in time for Adam to catch his fligh today.
I’m here for just one more night. I think I’m going to turn down tapas for once.
I know. Unheard of.
Before my flight to Gatwick tomorrow, I’m going to make a trip to the Arab baths here. Three different temperature pools and a massage.