Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sevilla was fabulous. Dirty, but fabulous. I didn't think anyplace had more graffiti than some of the neighborhoods in the US, but I stand corrected.

While the cathedral in Sevilla is really amazing, the Alcazar was definitely the highlight of the whole visit. It's been cold and a bit rainy although we still enjoyed the gardens. We left on Saturday morning.

Saturday started too early at 7:15, when the drunk twenty-somethigs were just staggering their way home from the bars. Think St Jean Baptiste day in Quebec. Think Ash Wednesday in New Orleans.

We caught a cab to the train station to pick up our rental car. No problems there. Getting out of Sevilla-- piece of cake. Getting to El Torcal de Antequera national park- easy. It was raining the whole time, but we were determined to go hiking.

So, we found the park and took a narrow, windy mountain road up, complete with blind switchbacks, sheer cliffs, and two-way traffic (although the lane is 1.5 cars wide).When we got to the trailhead it was really really really cool looking. The mountains are made of this crazy bare limestone that has eroded to look like massive piles of pancakes stacked up. We hiked the medium-length trail, about 3K, and it took about 2 hours. Yes, you read that right. It was muddy, rocky, hand-over-foot going most of the trail. And places where you had to pass through rock caves about 1 foot wide. It was pretty neat. We got filthy.

So, OK, everything so far was great. Then we got to Granada. I've been to many places and had to find my way around, and ask anybody-- I'm pretty good at naviguessing in an unfamiliar city. But I've never been anywhere that was even close to the level of difficulty of navigating this Gorforsaken town. We looked for the hotel. For. Three. Hours. Driving. The. Whole. Time. I nearly got into a fistfight with a bum at one point (mom still can't understand why, even though he had (in my perception) OPENED THE CAR DOOR TO ACCOST HER while I went to ask for directions at the train station. She swears she opened the door herself, but my already-on-the-edge self was ready for battle). I had to break 3 traffic laws to finally arrive get us to our destination. And the lady who owns the hotel had The Nerve to go on & on about how she had to turn away SOOOOO MUUUUCH BUSINESSSS because we were late and she wasn't sure whether we were coming and she could have gotten twice the price for our room and we should be so grateful to her for not giving away our room whaa whaaa whaaa.

Don't worry, I didn't kill her. But she won't be using that arm for awhile. Dad, if you're reading, I'm just kidding. It was nothing like the old lady that Fuzzy and I ganged up on in Quebec. She obviously had it coming.

So we're here. It is actually a really awesome looking place. Our hotel is smack between the Alhambra and the Cathedral. We have our own bathroom. We have a balcony over the little street. We have a parking place in a garage (the value of which should not be underestimated). We were able to shower and wash all our muddy clothes and use up all of the grouchy old lady's hot water. So that kind of makes up for the misery of driving around for 3 hours looking for the street the damn hotel is on.

We went to dinner last night at a place that was SUPER smoky and now our jackets, sweaters, scarves, ... smell like smoke. The meal wasn't very good. I tell you, these people didn't learn much about cooking from their northern neighbors. Or, maybe they did, but they listened to the wrong northern neighbors. No offense, Dave. ;-) I can't wait to head north and have a real meal!!

But all joking aside, I really can't complain-- Spanish people are SO laid back, which is really nice. If you screw up at a restaurant and use the wrong utensil or something, nobody gives you a scolding and everything is cheap. Clothes, food, drinks, even local transportation. So while SNG and I may have to get a summer place in Paris, we're doing all our shopping in Spain.

We've seen more American college students in Granada and in Sevilla than just about anything else. Mom keeps trying to figure out how she can pass for a Spanish abuelita, but I'm trying to tell her there's no way. She's too thin, too stylish, she doesn't apply makeup with a trowel, and her hair doesn't look like a football helmet. She looks a little bit like a French grandmere, perhaps, but she will never look like la abuelita española.

I realize that this entry has sounded more like a rant than a travel log of goodness, so I really need to make it clear that we're having a FABULOUS time. It's just that it's kind of fun to rant about the crazy stuff, and probably not as interesting to read about "we visited xyz museum today, and saw the following beautiful churches: a, b, c..."

And Fuzzy, for the record, my hotel karma so far (knock wood) has held up. But there's still Barcelona to see about...

Tomorrow we will spend the entire day at the Alhambra, which is the one thing I've anticipated the most about visiting Spain. I'll take lots of pictures and tell you if it lives up to its reputation.


some writer said...

On a hill overlooking Granada, the Alhambra—a sprawling palace-citadel that comprised royal residential quarters, court complexes flanked by official chambers, a bath, and a mosque—was begun in the thirteenth century by Ibn al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty, and was continued by his successors in the fourteenth century. Its most celebrated portions—a series of courtyards surrounded by rooms—present a varied repetoire of Moorish arched, columnar, and domical forms. The romantic imagination of centuries of visitors has been captivated by the special combination of the slender columnar arcades, fountains, and light-reflecting water basins found in those courtyards—the Lion Court in particular; this combination is understood from inscriptions to be a physical realization of descriptions of Paradise in Islamic poetry."

SNG said...

I had to look up what that was. Google is great. It's not really required that anybody "think" anymore. The internet does it for us.
I'm glad that, save the beatings, you are having fun. I just can't wait to get to Germany.

LizardBreath said...

Glad to hear that you are enjoying your trip! Its nice and wet out here in beautiful HI. Yep, I'm out here again, albeit temporarily. Setting up an exercise before the strike group gets into the area. Can't wait to get a chance to travel east as much as we have traveled west! Oh, you will be pleased, we have discovered the wonderful world of pet sitters! Yippee. Making this short, enjoy the trip and tell Mom "Hi!". Lizard

cat said...

Mom´s right here and she says "Hi Lizard!! Wish you were here!"
Your weather in HI is nicer than ours here in Spain, no doubt!

Bashö said...

If you need me to put a hurtin' on some old ladies, especially old ladies with whom I share 0 languages, I can be there in 8 hours, give or take 3 for finding her street.
Maybe you could ank her to meet me at the airport?

PartnerInCrime said...

Sounds like you're having a great time. I just got home (barely) alive last night.
Glad you haven't killed any old ladies. Yet. :)