Brent Graham ’09 – Anyone who has ever flown internationally knows what I have learned. The plane ride can be terrible. I have flown coach my whole life and never cared about the space issues, but after 8 hours of discomfort, I am ready to swear off coach all together. The other problem I faced was the delays. Thankfully in London the underground was working in my favor and got me from Gatwick to Stansted in just 3 hours so I didn’t miss my connection, but it took me 1.5 hours to get my boarding pass from Ryanair leaving me just 30 minutes to get to the plane.
(On a side note: Ryanair is a discount airline that offers service to cities all over Europe. The flight from London to Granada, equivalent from flying from Maine to Florida cost me a little less than $100. I will seriously reconsider flying them again though because the seats were small and uncomfortable for a person of my size and there are other such airlines that I have heard are a little roomier. All in all for the price the trip was a good one, except for the 2 year old kicking the back of my seat.)
When I arrived in Granada, I caught a bus into town for 3€ and though worried about not knowing which stop to get off at found it with relative ease. The next task was to find the hostel. That was not as easy as I had thought. I, like most of you reading, are used to street signs that are large green and have the street name in large white letters. That is not the case here. The street signs are squares no larger than a paper napkin place two to three stories up the sides of buildings. I wondered around to see if I could find the hostel using the map I had and when that failed I asked for directions. After an hour of searching I finally found the hostel in a small alley, off a small walkway, of a street that looked like a sidewalk. All three were made of stone. After check-in, a big glass of water and a hot shower, I went straight to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to sunlight, birds, a free breakfast and a beautiful city. It is hard to see at night but from the rooftop terrace it was like a scene from a movie. I immediately fell in love with it. After dropping off my bags at the hotel that I will be in for the next few days before I move in with my host family, I went to explore the city I walked over to the Alhambra but could only see part of it. I climbed the hill across from the Alhambra and took some amazing pictures. I walked for two hours just wandering. I found some beautiful gardens, a city park and a school. The garden were beautiful and all were in view of the Alhambra. The park was a little lonely looking and was very small. The school had very little by the look of it but they did have a ‘fútbol’ pitch. On my way back it was about 2pm, the hottest part of the day so I stopped at a ‘heladeria’ or ice cream shop. They had flavors that were crazy including egg. They also had the most delicious looking fruit flavored ice cream. I had the mandarin today and will try them all by the end of the trip. I bought a paper and spent the remainder of the afternoon reading the various articles about the Eurocup final between Spain and ‘Alemania’. I learned all I could have ever wanted to know about the game as well as the players from both teams. I also learned that this is the first time in 44 years Spain has been to a final match.
After roaming for the day and reading up on the match, I met with my group in the lobby of the hotel at 8pm. From there we went to dinner at the student center and watched the finals of the ‘Eurocopa’. We ate local foods that the director, Christina, cooked or bought. They included ham which tasted like beef jerky, manchego a Spanish cheese and various ‘frutos salados’ salty snacks. We also had Fanta and Coke to during. One interesting thing to mention here is that the Fanta we have in the US is nothing like what I drank here. It actually has about 10% juice in it and is a lot less sweet. It is much better in my opinion. The match was a close one and very fast moving. It seemed to go a lot faster than when I watch it a home. It might be because I was watching with other people. As soon as the game was over the streets filled with people blowing horns, banging drums, screaming, running, honking and setting off fireworks. It was a huge party. Many of the locals went swimming in the fountain at the end of The Gran Via. I declined the invitation because a sign near the pool said recycled water, not potable and I had seen about 10 pigeons bathing in it earlier that day. The fiesta lasted longer than I did and I went to bed around 12:30 to the sounds of the party in the streets.
The view from the tarrace. What a beautiful city!
This is the Alhambra. The University is going to take us there soon. I’ll have more pictures and information once we go.
This is the best ice cream place on the planet. I can’t wait to go back.
The party in the streets. It was crazy. In Madrid they had to call the police.
That is all for now. We will be touring the city for the next few days so I will have more pictures for you soon. Hope everyone is enjoying the weather at home. Today it was 104F. !Hasta Pronto!