February 22, 2010

Vamos a viajar a Granada manana!

This weekend we went on our first overnight excursion since Madrid! We woke up bright and early on Saturday to catch the bus to Granada, the last stronghold of the Muslim empire on the Iberian Peninsula before the Catholic Inquisition by Ferdinand and Isabella. Granada is known for it's beautiful architecture, a mix of Muslim and Christian influences, it's bustling student population, and it's free tapas!

We started our day by taking a tour of the Catedral de Granada and the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) where the Reyes Catolicos were laid to rest. It was a sunny day outside but it was freezing within the marble walls of the Cathedral. I don't know how people survived the hours of mass in the winter! But the Cathedral was worth every numb finger and toe I had after.

This organ puts Holy Innocents' organ to shame.

There were tons of chapel lining the outer naves of the chapel where important people were enshrined. There were super extravagant!

After, we saw the Capilla Real. During the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, faith and religion took a more personal and introverted form rather than grand displays of wealth. Their tombs were made out of fancy granite but the engravings were relatively simple compared to the tombs of their daughter, Juana la Loca (Joanna the Mad), and her husband, Philip el Hermoso (Phillip the Handsome). We were able to see the crypt where there coffins are kept but that was about as exciting as it sounds.

We had about 6 hours of free time after that to do whatever we wanted until our planned surprise that night. Emma, Alissa, and I opted to avoid the cold by hanging out in our hotel room and talking about food. It's what we do. But we did finally make it out to do some shopping and eating. We found a delicious ice cream shop with extravagant displays of helado. I chose the Avellana (Hazelnut) flavored one. Yum! We went through the tiny alleys and streets that were filled with Moroccan shops. The stores were filled with knick knacks, anything from jewelry, incense, shoes, and hacky sacks.

Afterwards, we tried to find a place with free tapas to no avail so we went for some chocolate con churros instead! Spanish churros are way different from the Mexican churros we get in the States. Spanish churros come fresh from the frying vat without seasonings while Mexican churros are covered in a healthy layer of cinnamon-sugar. Spanish churros also have a crunchier exterior than their Mexican counterparts. But churros here are served with a cup of warm, thick chocolate. It's so rich and decadent, I had to take tiny bites with a spoon instead of sipping it.

The verdict: I love them both!

It was finally time for our surprise - but first we had to walk for a good 30 minutes through the steep, winding cobble-stoned streets of Granada. Like Toledo, the streets also serve as sidewalks so we had a few close encounters with some speedy cars and scooters. But oh, what a view!

Our final destination was a real-life flamenco show! They filed us into a narrow room with a stage at one end. The show had two acts with two separate group of dancers. Each group was comprised of two female dancers, one male dancer, a guitarist, and a singer. I had no idea what to expect!

The dancing and rhythm put everyone into a sort of trance. The passion and intensity in their movements and on their faces were contagious. It was truly an organic work of art.

We then had free time until the next morning so we decided to check out the Granada nightlife. A group of 8 girls went out on the town and found a fun discoteca in the heart of Granada. We picked up some Spanish friends along the way. It was such a fun night! I love these girls :)

We may or may not have taught a group of Spanish guys the Jersey Shore fist pump. I'm not proud.

The next morning we were prepped and ready for a 3-hour tour of La Alhambra, the palace and fortress of the sultan of the Muslim empire in Andalusia before the Reyes Catolicos came in. After a wonderful continental breakfast (hello, yummy scrambled eggs with mushrooms!), we were ready to tackle our 3-hour tour of La Alhambra. This was the palace and fortress of the sultan of the Muslim empire before the Reyes Catolicos kicked them out.

But first we stopped to throw some coins into a well. It's supposed to give you luck for finding love. Good thing I already found it :)

The palace was absoutely gorgeous. It was filled with intricate carpentry, awesome fountains, and really cool gardens. My favorite room was probably the room where the sultan received his guest. This room was designed to impress his guests by creating the ambiance of the night sky behind the sultan.

There were so many fountains! But after 3 hours, we were all in need of the bathroom and the fountains were not helping. But it was definitely a unique and beautiful place and I would totally suggest to go see it if you're ever dropping into Spain.

Sorry for the lengthy post but there was so much to see in Granada! I hope you all are doing well and I miss you so much! Comments are always welcomed :)


Beth said...

What a fun history lesson! Ben is studying the Middle East & the Muslim religion, so he should find this interesting too. We love you & miss you! <3

Aunt Amy said...

Hola, chica. Sad we missed Granada when were in Spain but it's now on my official list of must-see places. And those churros con chocolate look heavenly!