Saturday, September 26, 2009

Granada: This is the Part I Hate

After a long 5+ hour ride on the train from Madrid to Granada, I am now comfortably settled in my room, as one can comfortably get in a hostel, called Funky Backpackers. My room is on the highest floor and although there were no elevators the helpful receptionist gladly carried my ridiculously heavy luggage up the long flight of stairs to my room where I will be staying with 6 other female travelers with a swanky terrace view.

One thing I've discovered and I'm sure many other backpackers share in this sentiment, is that one of the most challenging part of hopping to and from locations, is the hopping part. I got off the train and stared out on the circular driveway for a few minutes trying to find signs for the bus stop but to my disappointment, only found signs for the taxi.

Why not just take a taxi you ask? Well, it would probably cost almost €20 while a quick bus ride (that accomplishes the same feat - although, not as convenient) would only cost €1.20. Therefore, for a traveler on a budget the bus is a perfectly good form of transportation. Except of course sometimes it may not be due to the following: 1. you do not speak the language fluently 2. you have no clue which direction the bus is heading off to and 3. sometimes the hostel directions are a bit vague...

I decided to ask the man who was standing along the bus post in my best effort of broken Spanish (Mom, you'd be so proud). I can't recall what I said, sometimes desperation allows you to dig through 6 years of unpracticed Spanish courses which you were happy to leave buried and unused because you absolutely hated your highschool AP Spanish teacher for having given you so many nightmares during your senior year. Well, the man with his broken English and my broken Spanish managed to communicate enough to understand that I was trying to get to the Cathedral. Once the bus came I kept trying to shout out to the driver, "Para Catedral?" to which he ignored me...even after I'd shouted it 3 times. Guess I'm easy to ignore or maybe I wasn't asking right? But there were wonderously helpful others on the bus who chimed in, "Si!" and I smiled back in relief. This was not the end of my challenge, unfortunately. The directions after the bus stop, which I still wasn't sure was the correct stop, were a bit vague. After 10 minutes of dragging my luggage which I really almost felt like leaving at the curb after kicking it a few times - already forgetting the days I'd gone without it in Barcelona, when I decided to ask a store clerk. I had it in my head that if she couldn't tell me, I'd shameless concede that I'd done the best I could and happily flag down a taxi.

Someone out there must love me because she knew exactly where I was trying to go. Phew... Another 10 minutes later I was still dragging my luggage but it was towards the sign that said "Funky". I'd finally found it and I almost cried with relief. I always hate this part of traveling but mostly because I'm alone. It has a tendancy to make you feel even more alone combined with the emotions of panic and helplessness as you suddenly get overwhelmed by the stress of being lost.

I dropped off my things, got relatively comfy and laid down in my toddler sized bunk (which I guess isn't so bad for someone my size - but I hate how you can't fully sit up without hunching over and dipping your head in like a turtle). I decided right away that I wouldn't waste what little daylight I had and would go venture out to see a couple sights and shopping areas before I called it a night. I'll only be here for two nights after all, which doesn't leave me much time to visit the Alhambra and the 3 other distinct religious communities that make up Granada, Moorish, Jewish, and Catholics.

It's an amazingly beautiful area. Where you can get lost in the maze of small alleys that are filled with tapestries of all colors, music sung in hebrew and spanish, plenty of unique art, lamps, and hookahs. Unfortunately, after an hour and half of walking my legs felt like heavy weights that felt similar to dragging my luggage around and after failing to locate an open market (unfortunately, most stores are closed on weekends - either that or it's Siesta. Don't even get me started on Siesta, people take it way to seriously around here) I decided to head back to the hostel to have a cup of coffee and a tuna sandwich.

I spent a better part of the train train ride reflecting the past couple of days. The time spent in Madrid was wonderful. I made a handful of new friends and we said a perfect adios with a hearty dose of a potfull of home-made sangria and paella. I ate so much paella just so that it would absorb what was otherwise a volatile amount of alcohol in such a small portion. We all toasted to my first alcoholic drink in Spain. Yes, I've been avoiding the activity for all the obvious reasons. But seeing as it would be in the kitchen of the hostel with a room full of girls and one guy (the magician cook who made the Paella) it couldn't have been a more safe setting.

There's so much yet to see; traditional flamenco dances, tapas (minus that bar hopping), and a bullfighting arena.

I'm missing home but with two nights here, there's more than enough to do to keep me busily planning my days.

Thanks for reading! Miss you all!

Making sangria with the girls

We ran out of sugar...so we added more wine ;)

Cheers to an awesome group of girls

Me and the Sangria queen

There's Helen to my right with her salty dress...haha...because she spilled wine and apparently rubbing salt helps to get the stain out.

Me and Natalie - after too much sangria...for me...

Terrace view (only one side of it) of my dorm in the Funky Backpackers Hostel

This really is one of the most beautiful hostels I've stayed in.

So many hookahs

One of those alleyways that I loved getting lost in.

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