For my long Halloween weekend (Europeans made the wonderful decision to make the day after Halloween, All Saints Day a national holiday) I figured I would journey once more to Spain, this time to Granada, to both see la mia ragazza and to hopefully get a better impression of Spain after Madrid had so terribly disappointed me. My flight left from Milan Bergamo, the only Milan airport to which I had not been, at 10:45, but because it takes a solid three hours to get there from Parma I decided to take the 5:15 train meaning I had to wake up around 4:45, rally myself, and make it to the station on time. Fortunately there were other group members taking the same train to Milan for trips for the long weekend so the five of us (Matt, Abby and Megan went to Interloken and Ashley was going to Spain and also leaving from Bergamo) actually made it on time to the train, boarded and tried, unsuccessfully to find five seats together. It happened to be a night-train, the first that I had been on, but it was a regional night train meaning that it was not comfortable or classy, but rather dank, moldy and disgusting. Whatever, it was only a 2 hour ride.
Ashley and I took a shuttle to the airport and then waited in the longest security line I had ever seen. It extended the full length of the check-in area. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, so thank God I actually roused myself early! The airport itself was beautifully located under the mountains. Ashley and I bonded over our hour of sitting and waiting for our respective flights and I finished a bracelet for Courtney. Overall, this trip was turning out to be one without troubles! A first for me!
I landed in Granada on time around 2:15 and entered the smallest airport of my life! The only comparable one is Tweed in New Haven, but the funny part is that Granada is technically an international airport because Europe is the size of America which makes international flights comparable to interstate flights. Still, the idea that such a miniature airport could boast “international” status made me laugh. Immediately, though, I could tell I would like Granada more than Madrid because the countryside surrounding the airport was gorgeous. There were arid hills covered in olive groves which made the reddish dry dirt contrast with the pale green of the trees. Plus there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! Following Courtney’s PRECISE (Thanks babe!) directions I managed to not get lost in transit from the airport to the central of the city and then walking to my hostel. For the first time since arriving in Italy, I had successfully made a voyage without any hiccups! Courtney met me there, dressed in a green, Kermit the Frog “costume” because she had just come from working at a local high school with her program.
Technically Courtney should not have been staying at the hostel with me because we only reserved the room for one person for the four nights. Even though Courtney lives in Granada I couldn’t stay with her because her host mom would not even let me come into the house if she weren’t there. That’s so different than how it works with Nice who offered her house to Courtney even before she had met me! So, unfortunately, we had to stay at a hostel tougher instead of in Court’s house, but it was a nice hostel in the center of the city so I didn’t mind terribly.
We hung out for a bit before going out for lunch at 4, which in Spain is not actually terribly late to eat. I had some garlic soup and a ‘spicy’ roasted chicken and Courtney had a salad and a leg of duck. The food was good, but after food in Parma nothing much compares. I’m pretty spoiled. After lunch Courtney and I walked around the center of the city, which is the Old City, and also Courtney’s neighborhood. The old part of Granada is beautiful. The buildings look like they come out of the 1700’s and the streets are so narrow that cars can barely fit down the cobble stone paved roads. Surrounding the city are mountains into which part of Granda is built. There are many fountains and even a grand statue of Christopher Columbus (who the Spanish adore). The city had an Islamic feel still (it was founded by Muslims) even though Christianity had since come to become the dominant religion and power in the region. Granada is a fairly big city but it takes almost no time to walk from one end to the other. It retains the feel of a small town, almost like the little towns in Italy that l visit, except that it is a bustling metropolis with constantly full bars and restaurants. I can see why Courtney is so in love with it.
After we took a siesta Courtney and I met up with some of her groups (one of whom Jayson, I have known since freshman year) for tapas around 10. Tapas actually originated in Granada. Bartenders needed to devise a way to keep bugs out of the alcohol so they began to put little plates on top of the drinks. Seems smart enough. Soon these plates began to house small bites to eat and tapas were born. One would think, though, that putting food on the plates would only serve to attract more bugs. Whatever the story is, the fact remains that Tapas were invented in Granada and everybody loves them. At bars or even restaurants people order a drink and receive at least one free plate of food, if not two, per drink. It’s amazing! The drinks cost usually under 3 euro (they’re small, but whatever) and the plates of food are not even that small! The only comparable phenomenon in Italy is aperitivo where you buy a drink (usually for at least 5 euro) and then help yourself to a constantly refilling small buffet of food. Aperitivo, though, has a beginning and an end; tapas are whenever.
My first aperitivo in Granada happened to be Asian. One of the cheapest places close to the hostel happened to be Asian so we stopped in for a couple of cheap drinks and to have some tapas. I didn’t much enjoy the food, but I did enjoy the company. Jayson is hilarious and of course I love hanging out with Courtney. Regardless of the subpar food I enjoyed the crowded Asian joint. We moved on, eventually, to another bar in the city, a little further from the center of town and sipped on mojitos in one of the more ‘local’ bars in Granada which was filled with Spainards. It was fun, but we were all fairly exhausted so we called it an ‘early’ night (in Spain meaning any time before 3) and went back to the hostel to sleep.