2 September 2011
Travelling from Madrid to Granada was surprisingly easy and relatively painless. I got to the bus station (via the ever so handy metro) around 9am on Wednesday, hoping to catch a bus at 9:30. However, the line for the ticket window was full of other people who had taken the metro as well and by the time it was my turn I had less than 15 minutes before the bus would leave. Would I make it? No problem. The lady at the window implored me to hurry, repeating her instructions in Spanish rather earnestly, clearly unsure how much I could understand but everything went off without a hitch. The bus was just starting to load up and in no time we were off, driving south through the Spanish countryside.
The ride got more interesting about half-way through where we drove through this huge rocky mountain pass. Welcome to the province of Jaén. After a quick stop for lunch we loaded back up and drove through fields and fields of pungent olive trees, easily smelled on the bus. I thought it was interesting that all the tunnels we passed through were named, too.
The bus finally arrived in Granada around 2:30pm and after dragging my hefty luggage around Spain on public transport for so many days I decided to take a taxi to the hostel where I would stay in Granada. I swear that was the best ten Euros I’ve spent on the trip so far. The taxi driver was friendly and we chatted in Spanish as he drove me through the metropolitan center of the city and up to the windy, cobble-stoned streets of the Albayzín (the Arab quarter).
My hostel was a modified riad, with colorfully painted walls, marble floors, and a big open courtyard downstairs to hang out. After settling in, I headed out to explore this new, ancient city I had been so excited to see.
I spent two days exploring Granada on my own, mostly in the Albayzín as it was easily my favorite neighborhood. All the windy, narrow streets have so much character. You never know what you’re going to find. I found the Mirador, where there’s the best view of the city and the Alhambra above it. I made friends with a Moroccan man selling calligraphy and used Arabic for the first time in real life. I explored old buildings, found cool graffiti, and ate delicious tapas. I loved Granada from the very first day.
The hostel I was at made for a great time too. I had roommates from all over the world and stayed up late just talking to a lady from Holland one night. Another night we all went out on the tapas tour, pub crawling through the city and meeting everyone else staying there. It was a lot of fun with cool people.
Now my time here at the hostel, and even in the Albayzín is coming to an end, though I will remain in Granada for several more days. Today I check into the hotel ISA has booked for us, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk south, in the more modern part of the city, and from what I’ve seen walking by, it looks pretty fancy. I’m really excited to meet the rest of the people I will be studying abroad with in Morocco, and I can’t wait to get the program started.