This weekend, IES took 46 students to Granada, Spain. I was fortunate to be one of them. I will admit, before leaving to go to Granada, I was having a LOT of anxiety. I didn’t think I’d know anyone, but it worked out. We had to meet at the airport at 6 am on Friday. That was a horrible wake up call, but that way we got to spend all of Friday in Granada. We finally landed around nine and got on a bus to go to our hotel. The first thing I saw: mountains. I was so happy about that. I also saw the Sierra Nevadas, which were awesome. We finally got to our hotel after about a 20-minute bus ride. However, we couldn’t check in since people were still in our rooms. The IES teachers got us off the bus and told us we could put our bags in a safe room, so we walked into a hotel. Not a hostel. Not a motel. A hotel! Not to mention, it was a four star hotel. I don’t know why IES ever thought that was a good idea, but I went with it
After setting our stuff down, we had a guided tour of Granada. We first walked up a very long hill, but the hike was worth it. From the top, we got to see all of Granada. It was absolutely beautiful. We even got to see the Alhambra, which I’ll explain later. Afterwards, we walked down many windy roads on the hill. We walked through the gypsy quarter, so everyone made sure to yell, “watch your bags!” Nothing got stolen, since it’s nothing like Barcelona. We also saw the main mosque that people pray in on Sundays. After that, we had lunch. We had croquettes, fried green beans (interesting), some type of fish, and then pork. It was pretty tasty. After lunch, we got three hours of free time. I decided to hang out with a girl that was at my lunch table, along with a guy that is in my Spanish class. The girl, Julia, has a friend studying in Granada. She decided to take us around and get some tapas, which were delicious. Granada is known for its tapas. It is extremely common for people to order a drink and get a tapa. Then they will move on to the next tapas place. This is called a tapeo. Barcelona has tapas, but Granada has a lot more places where one can make a little tour out of it. We went to two separate places. The first tapa was a type of ice cream. It looked like a little chocolate ball. When we bit into it, there was ice cream. Talk about delicious. The second place had tortillas, which is what my host mom makes a lot. After our little tapa crawl, we went back to the hotel and had dinner. It was a buffet, and I had pasta. Nothing, however, tops the pasta that I had in Rome. Oh well! Afterwards, we went back out with Julia and her friend and went to yet another tapas place. I had spicy chicken and then coconut chicken. It was so good!
Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. Before even getting out of bed, I felt extremely sore from walking up all of the hills on Friday. I even work out almost every day in Barcelona, but nothing like the hills that we walked up. Anyway, for breakfast I had oranges and a piece of pound cake. After breakfast, we went to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a palace and fortress, located in Granada. The palaces of Alhambra were built for the Muslims. An aspect extremely important to the Muslims is water. Everywhere in the Alhambra you could find water. Whether it is fountains or a stream trickling next to the buildings, water was absolutely everywhere. It was really cool to see. We couldn’t touch any of the walls inside the Alhambra, since it was part of the original structure. After touring the buildings of Alhambra, we got to see the gardens in the Alhambra. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous. There was almost any color flower that you could imagine! It definitely reminded me of my mom, which was nice. She would have loved it. Like my dad texted me, she would have probably tried to recreate it in the gardens at home. After the Alhambra, we had free time to get lunch. After lunch, we had a tea and cookie tasting. There were two choices for tea: Moroccan or Pakistani. I had the Pakistani tea, and it had milk already in it. It was so delicious. I had already had a Moroccan tea here, which tastes pretty minty. The tea and cookie tasting was so fun, and I’m glad I did it. After that, we had more free time to explore the city. I bought some souvenirs for my friends back home. We had to meet at the hotel at 7:15 for a soccer game against IES Granada. Apparently IES Granada has won the past 5 years against Barcelona, so the boys really wanted to win. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. We lost 6-7, but it was awesome seeing everyone cheering the players on. I actually saw a couple of Wofford people that were studying in Granada, which I didn’t know! It was nice to see them, even if for just a little bit. After the soccer game, we went back to the hotel for dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t do anything for the rest of the night, since I had a horrible migraine. It was nice to catch up on my sleep, though.
Sunday morning we had free time before our next activity. A couple of girls and I went up to where we hiked the first day to see the view one last time. We also looked at the vendors. I bought a bracelet for myself, and the vendor gave me a ring for free. He was so nice. He told us that his life’s work is making jewelry and selling it in different parts of the world. How neat is that? After we got our jewelry, we went for more tapas. (When in Granada, right?) After tapas, we did my favorite activity of the whole trip: the Arab baths. We spent two hours there. There was a super hot bath, a medium bath, and a cold bath. There was also a steam room. My favorite part was definitely the massage. I’ve been experiencing a lot of anxiety on this trip, more than I usually do back at home, so having a back massage was awesome. It definitely made all of my anxiety go away, even if it was just for an hour. After the Arab baths, we had a walking tour of downtown Granada. We went to the Jewish quarter and walked around in the shops. We finally left for the airport at 9:00 that night. I finally got back to my apartment around 1:30 am. It was a long weekend, but it was well worth it. Granada has an amazing atmosphere; it’s very slow paced and the tapas, of course, are great. Granada even has the siesta, which Barcelona definitely doesn’t.
This week is spring break, but more importantly, I see my dad and sister! I can’t wait to see them after four very very long months. It’ll be nice to show them around. Some of the places that I am planning on taking them to Sagrada Familia, one of Gaudi’s buildings, Parc Guell, and Tibidabo. I’ll also be taking them to the beach, my favorite part. Maybe I’ll even use a sign with their names on it at the airport!
Until next time.