To start with, I should explain that we attempted to do this Spain trip on the cheap. While we live comfortably, but we’re not made of money, we don’t believe in unnecessary debt, and we want to have substantial savings. We got a rock-bottom deal on our flights ($470 each, round-trip from Atlanta to Philly to Madrid, in case you care), we stayed in hostals, and we took the bus from city to city. I ate many a queso bocadillo on this trip, but it was all good. As far as staying in the hostals go, we didn’t stay in some dormitory arrangement (that would have been kind of weird), but rather, we always had our own room, though bathroom arrangements varied. We had our very own bathroom in Madrid (both times) and in Cordoba, but shared one in Sevilla and Granada.
In Granada, we stayed at this really incredible backpackers’ hostal called Oasis. It was in the Albayzin (old Arab neighborhood) just under the shadow of the Alhambra. The people working there were super-laid back, and the guests were young travelers from all over the world. Our first night we went along w/ the tapas tour group hopping from one bar to another, eating free tapas along the way. In Granada, unlike other parts of Spain, whether you order a Coca-Cola or a tinto de verano (red wine with lemon soda…surprisingly good), you get a small plate of free food. Or not so small, in some places. After about 2 or 3 places, you no longer feel the need to seek out a dinner spot, because you’ve been given more than enough food. I hung out with a guy from Finland who was a psychologist, a Canadian guy involved in TV production, a Laotian-American woman who worked for the UN, a few Americans, and a French guy studying math in Sweden. We spent quite a bit of time with the Canadian (Kevin) and the French guy (Alex). After traveling for over a week, it was nice to find people to talk to, and they were all so interesting and intelligent. The crowd there was admittedly younger (most were in their 20s, no doubt), but it made for a good time.
Our second day in Granada, we went to the Alhambra and the Generalife. The beauty of that place is so difficult to verbalize. Every last detail was so painstakingly addressed. There was so much symmetry and grace in every last doorway, window, wall carving, and fountain. It astounds me that humans are capable of producing a place so incredible. I have some pictures posted on Facebook, for those of you who are so inclined, but I will be happy to post a public link to the album if some of you want to see it and are on FB.
After the Alhambra we rested for awhile and took in a little bit of what Spanish television had to offer (in our case, The Simpsons). TV there is interesting…you go like 10 or 15 minutes without a commercial break, then you have 5 continuous minutes of commercials, and then you have the rest of the show. I think I like it better that way, although since we have a DVR, commercial breaks and timing are largely irrelevant. We then feasted on an incredible dinner at the hostal of veggie paella, fried potatoes with mojo sauce, pear-bleu cheese soup, and a salad with avocado, feta, and quince paste, all for a mere 5 euros. We agreed it was the best meal we ate while in Spain, and it was also the least expensive. Go figure.
I bought my only souvenir of the entire trip here, a beautiful turquoise and silver scarf I saw at one of the shops lining the way up to the Alhambra. Scott bought a little zipper wallet thing because his silver money clip (that I bought for him a few years ago) was starting to lose its grip on his cash and cards. Everything in Granada was so much cheaper than in Madrid or even Sevilla. Since it’s a college town, it’s pretty laid back and inexpensive, and we liked it a lot.