I have to say, it’s pretty awesome that while in Spain, I can just pack a bag and go off to an amazing historical site or beautiful city for a couple days! I left for Sevilla on Friday morning with two other girls and we spent Friday and half of Saturday there, and then took a bus to Granada and met up with two other girls on Saturday evening. I had a lot of fun, although there were a couple issues along the way.
We had already reserved rooms in hostels so that we wouldn’t be stressed out when we got to Sevilla and Granada, but when we tried to check into the hostel in Sevilla, the receptionist told us we needed our passports. We’ve been told not to bring our pasaportes on weekend trips for security reasons so we all froze and looked at each other nervously when she said that. We have our passport numbers on our student ID cards, and that should have been enough information because all they needed to do was make sure our passports are still valid. However, they kept claiming they needed our actual passports, although they were merely going to put information from them into the computer. The receptionists at the desk weren’t being very helpful and we waited, sweaty and tired, for about half an hour while they spoke with the Sevilla police, who finally told them it was okay! We got settled into our room, which had 2 sets of bunk beds. It was small but decent for the price, although my bed literally squeaked every second of the night, so it was really hard to sleep. We walked around Sevilla for awhile, shopping and taking pictures, and in the morning we visited the cathedral. The cathedral in Sevilla is the largest in Spain and the third largest in Europe, and it was gorgeous! It was fun to try and imagine it in use hundreds of years ago, before it was taken over by tourists. I’ll try to include pictures soon, but that means stealing them from my friends because my camera broke on my birthday! I bought a disposable, which is kind of fun, too; I’m just crossing my fingers that the pictures turn out!
We got to Granada Saturday evening and had a little difficulty finding our hostel. It was about a 30 minute walk up this huge MOUNTAIN on the outskirts of the city, and apparently we took the hard way because there were no sidewalks and we were walking along some kind of shady streets. Had we known the walk was going to be so long, we probably would’ve taken a bus…at least we got a lot of exercise? It was worth it, though, because along the way we saw beautiful views overlooking the entire city. Our hostel turned out to be a pleasant surprise – it had a rooftop pool also overlooking the entire city and the staff was all really friendly and helpful. That night we explored the downtown area and the next morning we toured La Alhambra, which was conveniently just down the street from our hostel. La Alhambra is a huge Muslim palace expanded upon by Ibn Nasr, who was the founder of the Nasrid Dynasty and fled to Granada to avoid persecution by King Ferdinand. It was later taken over by Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who are said to have approved Christopher Columbus’ request to travel [eventually to the Americas] in one of the rooms that we saw. Almost every single inch of the main palacio is engraved with amazing detail and the whole place is honestly unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Here’s a link to someone else’s picture of part of La Alhambra that we toured:
The other parts of Granada that we saw weren’t my favorite of the places I’ve seen so far. The main part of the city, which we walked through to find restaurants and explore, was really dirty. The bums on the streets were creepier than most and one followed us for a good five minutes. I know this is a part of city life, but I feel like the police could do something about that. Other than that, I loved seeing La Alhambra and would definitely recommend that specific aspect of Granada to anyone traveling to Spain!
Next weekend the entire CIEE program goes to Valencia and I’m really excited. We’ll get to stay in a hotel (bigger rooms!) and we’ll be right on a beach, so in between the guided tours of the city, we’ll be able to relax and enjoy the weekend!