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Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 48-50 April 5-7, Granada-WOW!!! What a place!

Day 48

Ben and I arrive by train to Granada around 2:45. We walk through the newer part of town to find a bus. We find the bus that we need and hop on to get to our hostel. On the ride in this bus I realize what an amazing place we have just arrived in. While driving on cobblestone roads that weave through narrow streets limed with white and blue painted buildings, we can see the snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the colossal La Alhambra, which is an old walled in Moorish town/palace perched on a hill with a small, swiftly moving stream running in the valley below. The bus steered away from the stream and went into the oldest part of the town. This is where our hostel was. Smack dab right in the middle of the narrow streets. We get off of the bus and walk down a hill on a cobblestone street to Makuto Hostel, which I will tell you about later. We check in and head out to explore the city. Wandering in and out of streets, just getting lost really, we make our way back to the train station. Ben and I get tickets to Biarritz France, which is our next destination. Alright so here is the story with that. We are taking a 4-hour train to Madrid, going to the other side of Madrid and taking another train to Handeya, France. We are then stuck there for the night, since the French train system is currently on a strike and only running a certain amount of trains a day. So we are staying in the train station that night, hopefully we won’t get mugged, and then catching a bus to Biarritz the next morning. It is going to be a LONG day. Anyway, back to Granada. After we figured all of that out, we wandered back through the narrow streets to the hostel. That night we just watched a movie, because I had to register for classes, but it was still very relaxing.

Day 49

We woke up in the morning at 6:30 so that we could go and wait in line for tickets into La Alhambra. We had to do this because they only sell a certain amount of tickets a day and many people don’t get in. So we got there by 7:15 and there was already a large line. We waited for about an hour, met a nice older couple from Canada, and luckily got our tickets for later in the afternoon. We went back to the hostel, got some breakfast, and went on a walking tour with people from the Hostel. We walked through the historic streets around our hostel and then up into the hills behind the city. There we looked at caves dug into the walls that people were living in. It turns out they had been there for hundreds of years, as the gypsies were the ones who made them in the first place. When they were persecuted back in the day, they left the city and went out into the hills to live their lives peacefully. Anyway after this tour, Ben and I go to La Alhambra for the tour there. We spend 4 hours on these grounds, looking at the beautiful gardens, spectacular water fountains, and impeccably intricate palace. Alright, I have to talk about the water and the palace. First off, the water. It was amazing how the people of those days made things work. Everywhere you walk in this place you can hear water trickling around you. Whether it is fountains, small streams, little gutter like things running down every street, or the stairs that had water running down chutes in the hand rails. It was such a soothing place to be. My kind of place. I could just stay there and listen to the water for days. Now to the palace. The main part of the palace was built by Moorish conquerors. Every wall, ceiling, floor, everything in the palace was so intricate and detailed, it blows your mind how it could be done. There were so many Arabic carvings in the stonewalls, pillars, and ceilings, you just had to spend so much time in each room to really grasp the uniqueness of this place. Then, following suit with the rest of the area, it had water features throughout the inside of the palace. Everywhere you looked there were fountains, or little streams of water flowing through the place. Then you get to the Christian part of the palace. I walked through and didn’t take any pictures. They were white walls with wooden beams. I wouldn’t mine living in these rooms, but compared to the Arabic part, it was like a piece of dirt. Now why is that? Why is there so much color, culture, and attention to detail in many of the eastern countries, while in the western countries, especially North America, there is just nothing. I really do think we are one of the hardest working society in the world, but what is it all for? Where is the art going? The living life to the fullest? The culture? It seems like we are all becoming one big mixing pot and losing what is really important, our history and cultural differences. Those really are a part of us. A part of what makes this world amazing. If we lose that than, this place would be so boring. I don’t know what it is. The simplistic outlook on life of Christianity or the lack of caring about our history of the current generation, but in a thousand years, what are people going to look back on us and say? NOTHING!! None of our buildings will be around, because they were poorly built, lack of detail. We have not made anything that is truly beautiful and awe inspiring, because we are too busy in worrying about technology and money. I don’t know what the reason is, but I don’t like it. Anyway, enough of that rant. After the tour Ben and I walked down the creek and back to the hostel. On the way we stopped on the creek and put our feet in for a while and watched the sun start to set. After we got back we hung out with a couple from Canada and a girl form Washington state who were really cool. We hung out in the “Chill Out Room”, which is kind of like the gazebo in Wisconsin, but a little more enclosed, with pillows, beanbags, and couches all over the place that most of us hung out in and spent our nights, and talked away. Then dinner came. I signed up late since we were so busy from the day before, so I just stayed in the room and checked emails and stuff. We were having a Flamenco band come and play for us later, and while I was in the room 2 gypsies came in and started warming up for the show later. It was really cool. Just the three of us sitting in there, me sitting on the side and listening to them bare their hearts through their instruments. Then after a while they lit up a joint and kept on playing. Those crazy gypsies. After I ate my dinner, we went back into the room and hung out some more, while the band was playing outside of the room. We could hear them just fine and still have our own conversations while they were playing. It was really nice. But then a woman started singing and we had to go listen. I have watched a lot of people sing, many different types of music, but I have never heard anyone put so much emotion into their music as I did this woman. It was all in Spanish, and Gypsy style on top of that, so I had no idea what she was saying, but I was still so entranced I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. It was real, unfiltered singing, with the emotion as the main part of it and the singing coming in second. It was quite a thing to watch. After the show we all went to bed. What a day, VERY long, but one of the best I have had so far.

Day 50

After quite a few pieces of toast with [each jam, tea, and orange juice, as those were free to guests. Ben and I decide to head out of Granada and into the Sierra Nevada’s, for day hike. As we were getting ready to leave Addison showed up at our Hostel. I had talked to him on Facebook the night before and we realized we were both going to be in Granada at the same time. I told him where we were staying and there he was. Our hostel didn’t have a bed, but one nearby did. Anyway as we waited for him I went with the two Canadians to get some groceries. A little while later we were off for my first real hike in Europe. WE got to the entrance to the park and started to hike. We followed a very quickly moving creek for a while, ducking under cliffs and sometimes using handholds to climb around them. After a short time we took a little break and I decided to do a little climbing. I climbed to the top of the gorge that we were walking through. Nothing that crazy, it was a pretty easy climb, but it was a great view none the less. After that short break, we set off following the creek some more until the path veered away from it and headed up into the mountains. We climbed for a while until Addison and Ben both said they wanted to turn back. I, of course, did not want to do that, so I told them I would meet them back in town. I climbed higher until I reached the beginning of the pine tree line. It was quite an incredible smell due to the fact that there was wild rosemary and thyme growing everywhere just below the tree line and the scent of pine above me on the tree line. The mixture of the scents as I hugged the tree line staying at that elevation was something meant for a candle. I walked by myself taking in the scents and admiring the sights of the mountains all around me. Then I heard a rustle in the woods and saw two very small deer walking ahead of me. I don’t know what kind of deer they are, but they where about the size of a mountain goat. I sat and watched them for a while, then kept moving onward, walking on the trail that would eventually lead me back to town. After a while I saw Addison and Ben climbing up another trail, they had found the energy to get up I guess. I whistled and ran down the trail to catch up with them. We walked on a ridge for a while and then into a very grassy area of the mountain. It was a very gorgeous area, with pine trees, large boulders, cliffs, and grassy knoll. All of the sudden I came across two horses, way up here on the mountain with us. One was a stunning white and the other a rich hickory. At first I thought they might be wild horses so I told the two to be quiet, since they had not seen them yet and were talking with each other. I slowly crept up to the horses and they did not budge. I realized they were not wild, but just some farmer’s horses, which he let roam the mountain. The dark horse had his front two legs tied together so that they would not take off and be too far away. After I came to the realization that they were tame horses, it came into my mind that I had to ride the white one bare back through this grassy knoll. I went up to it, pet its face for a while, and put a little weight on its back to see what it would do. It was fine with it, so I jumped on top of it and grabbed on to its mane. I got it to go for a little bit, but it would not leave the other horse to far behind, so it would always turn back. After a few minutes of riding this horse, I got off and thanked it for the ride. Then it was time for us to find our way off this mountain. We could see the town, but the trail ended at someone’s house, the owner of the horses I presume. So we start to just climb down the mountain one ledge at a time. We come across another farmer herding his goats through the cliff. After a while we make it back to the valley and to the creek. We walk back into town, go to a cafĂ© built into the cliff and get some drinks and gelato. We then go back to the hostel and hang out with our Canadian, and Washington state friends who went to La Alhambra that day. We told each other about our day, and talked the night away, until the hostel workers told us they had to close the room. We said our goodbyes and went to bed. Granada is by far the best place that I have been to so far. The people were very welcoming, the sites in the town were awe-inspiring, and the mountains were breathtaking. I recommend to anybody who is going to Spain to spend a few days in Granada, You will not regret it.

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