Most of this day involved me trying to get to Granada, not realizing that most buses here in Spain are spitting replications of the ones in Turkey I had been on. They stopped all the time, and sometimes it would be an hour onto the road only to have a pointless pit-stop for bathroom or food. It got extremely annoying.
I read quite a bit during that time and also struck up a conversation with the passenger next to me, another German who was studying in Valencia, and we talked for quite a while to pass the time. It was interesting to note how many Germans were actually visiting and living in Spain. This is definitely something more people should do: a Master’s somewhere in England, or even in another country that speaks Spanish (or an American school somewhere).
Christian was visiting his girlfriend for her birthday, and he kept worrying about his cake’s condition overhead throughout the trip. I guess it turned out decently though.
The bus ride took ages, and finally it got into Granada at around 7:30 in the evening. The hostel’s directions were vague yet again, and I turned the wrong direction at the outset. I meandered down side streets, passed the big cathedral, then up cobblestoned steps in the Moroccan quarter of the city and eventually made it to the proper hostel, sweaty and exhausted, with all my 18 kilos of luggage and a bitter taste in my mouth.
The receptionist was very nice and set me at ease, and I soon was in my room, deoderized, changed, ready for the rest of the night. Just in time for a tapas tour at 9:30.
The weirdest things about the start of this tour had to be that I recognized so many people from past locales – some who turned out to be not only staying at the last hostel I was at in Valencia, they were in same room as I on the first night! Alistair, Simon, and Lloyd were the three Aussie guys’ names; Lauren was the girl’s name (Simon’s girlfriend). Donna and Jessica (Canada and Australia) were some people from Arago in Barcelona!
We wound up meeting some more people, a dude from Manchester (Roger) who didn’t attend the tapas tour (having done it two nights previous), but informed us that he would be around for a few more days before checking out the rest of Europe on his motorbike; and then Enny from Adelaide, Australia. The guiders were these really cool lesbians (one American, the other Spanish) who took us around the town to some superb bars.
What I found intriguing about the bars in Granada was how practically all of them were openly mixed clientele (gay and straight). In Cleveland you have the specialty bars that some people go to, where you’ll find mostly homosexuals trying to dance, hook up, find a significant other in the crowd without fear of accidentally getting a miscue or something like that. Here, it’s a conglomeration: different couples, singles, and all of them easy-going and not uptight as a lot of the homophobic clientele in America are. There were ads on the walls for events at different places. Our tour guide for the tapas tour we were having that night responded to our inquiries about the whole non-labeled locales. She said that that’s how the culture is here: you go out, and it doesn’t matter what orientation you are, you will most likely be welcomed wherever you go and there won’t really be any strange reactions or standoffish-ness.
This just shows how more relaxed the culture truly is here; most places here don’t have the exclusivity like London or other big cities in America. There are separations. There are actual gay venues. It’s different here.
In the first bar (Bar Rojo: with ravaging brick red walls, simple decor and very subdued lighting), the flamboyant tender slopped down our first beers. We paid for them, and in return for our payment, we also got our first round of tapas. At most places, the alcohol is all you pay for – and you receive an appetizer to wash it down. Number one: diced tomatoes, garlic, and peppers over fresh ciabatta. There were also some herbs on top, but my palette isn’t that advanced enough to distinguish particulars. I think it was basil. On the side were some potent green olives stuffed with anchovies. Lloyd, one of my fellow hostelers does not eat seafood… and we had no clue about the anchovies until #2 because the garlic makes the anchovy tasteless. I personally found the olives spectacular, and ate all of Lloyd’s he didn’t finish. Number 2: a sort of spiced meatball with potato and tuna stuffed inside.
The second bar was a bit swankier than the last alley-central place we had just come from. The beer came in wine glasses and the tapas increased in quality. The first one was a dip that had zucchini and artichokes inside it; it was used to spread across mini slices of bread. The following appetizer was not as impressive as its predecessor: it reminded me of potato salad that was way too heavy on the garlic. It was still palatable. Some people stayed for #3, which from a distance looked like it had guacamole on top. Most of us hung outside the bar and wandered around the out-of-the-way square that sported pylons that rose and sank into the ground, but only if you had the remote to control them; it was for the small parking area on the one side of the square near a hotel.
We made it to a third tapas bar; this one was quite smoky and packed, with most of the people departing after this one. Some frightening Jane Fonda B-Movie was playing on the overhead TV as we had a giant plate of what I assumed had been an entree full of shrimp and olives.
Finally, the two guides, this middle-aged American gent, Enny and I were all that were left of the tour. We stumbled to an Irish pub where I had a ridiculously expensive Guinness and drank it way too fast. It was a nice conclusion to my trek across the vibrant and eclectic dives of Granada, where I met so many different people each with their own stories to tell.
The walk back was befuddling; I went off on my own to the hostel and wound up lost after 3 minutes of walking. The tour guide had this medical condition where she can become dangerously lethargic to the point of going unconscious unless she rubs ice cubes up and down her arms. The map she drew was sketchy and illegible. The Spanish guide decided to help out, and she drunkenly pulled me out of the pub and shunted me in the correct direction. Well, after a while, I made it back to the Moroccan Quarter of Granada and into the hostel with no mishaps.
I rate this night a 9 out of 10. The point is docked off because of wandering around the streets of Granada at 3 in the morning.
My plans to go on the walking tour were squashed as I checked the clock and it read 10 AM. Apparently, there are people who constantly feel as if the room is solely theirs and therefore see fit to make an earthly amount of noise, especially when using plastic bags… or something with a similar texture.
I tried to shrug it off, but it just grates from time to time. The ensuing morning included me eating burnt toast and some honey tea that helped soothe the srore throat that had been peskily made its home for a while now.
After clumping my laundry into the overpriced container, I headed for a walk around Granada. I soon made it near the Alhambra and had a small lunch of tea and corn-and-rice salad listening to a guitarist strumming near a fountain in the square. Some tosser decided to clean his puppy’s rear in the fountain after shitting — which brought about some agonizing yelps from the canine. With this quick stop finished, I headed again parallel to the fortress and soon made my way up the hill to reach the landmark.
Of course, the ticket to the most important parts had been sold out for the day, so all I did was the garden section. I could live without seeing the fortress; I had been there before. After looking around for the better part of one to two hours, I went looking for a nice backgammon board at the gift shop to buy. The cheapest one fetched a price of €70! i didn’t get it.
I returned back to the hostel for a quick breather. Then, I went out to find a nice patch for my sister’s travelling knapsack, which took a good deal of time perusing through multiple souvenir shops until one place had what I was looking for. I also bought a decent Granada T-shirt, which even though it was M looked way too big on me when I tried it on. What’s happening to me? Am I shrinking? I also got out to see the entirety of the big cathedral in the city; one of the more frightening moments had to be when I was gazing at the line of teas and spices that were being sold on one end of the cathedral. One of the vendors began coughing and it was quite expectorant-laden from the sound of it; near him was a cardboard box, and he spit whatever had risen from his lungs into that. Whatever it was, I could see it as it dribbled down his chin; it was red and almost brownish in color as it sagged and plopped into the box. I felt sick watching it.
Soon as it was 4:00, I decided to have a pre-dinner snack. At this bar near the tiered, cobblestoned street, I had tortille Espanola. The portion was huge, but I ate it all ravenously, savoring the potatoes and cheese stuffed inside. It held its Spanish vibes even though it was very close to the Moroccan quarter – like most tapas bars, it had the quinticessential feel of relaxation and conviviality.
Evening brought a reunion of most of the people from the night before and some new faces, namely some bloke (Micah?) from Nottingham, England and three Finnish girls. I also found the terrace on the uppermost floor, which had a decent view of the old city. I decided to take Roger’s route and buy a litre bottle of sangria to sip on while waiting for our paella dinner at the hostel. The sangria started off smashing, but with a 1/3 left, I grew weary of it and longed for a beer, but I knew mixing would be lethal from past experiences. Soon, our paella dinner arrived, cooked by one of the staff. It was with mariscos, or seafood – which pelased all but Lloyd, who opted to run to the döner stand for a kebap.
Eventually, we all headed out as a group of have some nargile at a stand hear the hostel. We chose this one place that looked decent across from the particular café the night receptionist recommended but was closed. The atmosphere was authentically Moroccan – as most hookah bars might be like – but the nargile was shite. This might be me being a snob, but it just did not feel smooth with each pull. Apple and strawberry were the flavors and I was not impressed at all with either; I dealt with it right well enough.
Our troubles were far from over though. We had to purchase a drink as well, so I got green tea. They brought it over, I took a sip, and I almost gagged. It tasted like very strong spearmint, a far, FAR cry from the green teas I’ve ever tried. I informed one of the staff, and he affirmed that it was green tea despite my corrections that it’s like mint. He even had the cajones to go to the pail of tea leaves and show me that they were indeed verde! Yeah, mint tea is green in color, but it’s not GREEN TEA, douchebag.
This place turned into a bust for me. We went back for a quick sip of the bubbly at the hostel. Then – we headed to a club referred to us by – yet again – the receptionist on duty. We showed up at the doors and almost had an outlandish entrance fee splattered on us by the bouncers, but we get in with a tiny discount nonetheless.
We walked in to find the club absolutely empty. All of us were dumbfounded at this little situation. We ordered a free beer with our entrance fee and stood around. Four of us went over to play foosball, which was near a corner. The coat check windows was also near this table, and a woman stood there glaring ominously (at me especially it seemed) for the better part of twenty minutes. Creepy! I snagged a photo.
One of the distinguishing features of this place was that, along the wall, there were holders for beer bottles and cocktail glasses. It could proved to be very handy but also problematic when drunkenness becomes all-powerful and people forget which drink was theirs.
The people slowly filtered in at first. Soon, 1:00 turned into 2, 3, then the floor was gobsmacked, packed full. And at 4, it was a claustrophobe’s nightmare. The dancing was still fun. The DJ had some cool tunes going, especially stuff by The Killers and The Arctic Monkeys. A back-to-back moment of brilliance came when “Somebody Told Me” played, with “Fa Fa Fa” by Datarock followed without a hiccup in the music. “This Fire” by Franz Ferdinand also provided for a fun moment not too long after that.
Lloyd decided to horn in on one of the Finns, of course choosing the fever-laden one, which I and others found hilarious and inexplicable. Perhaps he was desperate. When you’re horny, I guess you go for anyone.
At 4:30, a few of us thought it best to break from the gigantic mass of writhing bodies and head out. It was Simon, Lauren, Enny, and me who left. Micah and Alli remained in a stupor of epic proportions; Lloyd was going for the jugular of the Finn-with-a-Fever. The other Finns had left or would leave eventually. The walk home was blurry and shouts of songs were in the air. I had a long sleep of five hours.
The next morning I vowed to do the walking tour at 11. I got up at 10 to get my laundry from downstairs. The tiny thing that nibbled at me was the drawstring of my swimtrunks, the red ones: it was missing and I was unable to find it anywhere. (I tried on these shorts in Sevilla and they at least fit enough for me to sleep in them.)
The Finns hogged the bathroom and shower upon my return upstairs, so I went down again and had breakfast while they were applying make-up and other deleterious items. I soon went back up to the room around 10:45; they were walking out of the room telling me I had enough time to make it for the meeting-spot. Shower, shave, try to find clothes in the dark, then walk all the way to the Placa Nueva in 15 minutes. Right. So no walking tour for me. Funnily enough, the tour was cancelled because the guide was away and therefore couldn’t give the tour! No loss.
What I did do was check to make sure that all my things were set for the Sevilla and the Lisbon hostels, that I had my directions written down. I also informed all the Londoners that I’d be there in a week. I also emailed Dave for his address and when exactly I’d be in. Needless to say, this took a fair bit of time, as I replied to a few other emails as well. The receptionist on duty had the nerve to tell me (and also Donna and Jess who were busy trying to change a flight so it wouldn’t be gall-splatteringly expensive) that “there were others waiting to use the computer and that we should be respectful of them.” I, of course, told her that my stuff was indeed important; I wanted to make sure I had a place to sleep this upcoming week, so it was definitely important. I wasn’t tooling on Facebook or obsessively perusing over stories about the election; I was really using the Internet for things that needed to be done.
I headed off soon enough: no one took my computer instantly after I logged off (surprise, surprise!). I took the bus to the bull-fighting arena, which cost €5 to get in! I had seen the inside of the Sevilla one in 2001, so it wasn’t essential for me. I had hoped there might have been a bullfight though.
I stopped for a coffee and a bacon sandwich on the way back and detoured past a park (Jordi de Triomph – or something similar sounding) and sat to watch some street performers play percussion instruments for a short while. Then, they decided to do some rhythmic dancing that involved feet stomping and clapping hands. It was a refreshing alternative to harpists by cathedrals and people playing the acoustic guitar everywhere.
After that, I wanted to trek along one of the walls of the city, which was located to the ‘west’? of the hostel. The steps were steep and long, and also cobblestoned. If I lived in Granada, I would try vehemently to get a place in this area. Sure I wouldn’t dare drive, and a bike could be a complicated investment… not to mention having to lug my belongings up to my place with no sort of ascensor or lift. I just feel it would be where I’d most love to be here!
I walked around the winding roads, surrounded by white-washed buildings and terraces along cliffsides, views of the entire cathedral from above, the major streets cutting veins through the city, the endless string of vivid graffiti; the open atmosphere, no one for meters, and then a turn and a busy café full of people. It all struck me there; I love Granada. It might be my favorite spot in Spain. Even Europe. something in the above sentences just brought it home to me; it seeped inside deep, far down, it enveloped me, and it gave me peace. And I smiled. And i walked.
I turned a quick right by one of those cafés – to see the steep cobblstones of the main street that would eventually lead to Oasis. It was impressively close to what I had recently experienced. I thought it was simply too cool for words.
The rest of the afternoon was wrought with me try to do this, write. First it was going to the terrace for some time; a Canadaian was there reading Ayn Rand and some Aussie was waiting for a shower to open in his room. Some Italian guy headed out of the room next to the terrace and began talking to us about visiting other countries not only for the cities themselves, but also to villages where you get a more real slice, a better picture of the place, feel the culture, get a fuller experience. It unfortunately began to rain, so I leapt down to the TV room and continued writing in this journal. I relaxed on the beanbags for ten minutes or so, with my eyes closed when a few Aussies came in to watch the telly. The station remained fixed on “Flags of Our Fathers” and I became transfixed onto the screen.
I knew I had to leave or I wouldn’t get this journal updated, so I marched up to the terrace again. It had stopped raining. The Italian guy was playing his guitar and I was inclined to scratch some impromptu poetry as the rain started up again. When I felt the poem finished, I headed back to my room out of the rain. Some British dude I didn’t know was there, so I planted myself on my bed to eke out a few more paragraphs… which grew to be somewhat productive. And then the three Finns came in, loud and overly talkative. The British dude (Juan according to himself, although his name was really John) decided to introduce himself to them and ask 34 questions to keep at least one of them talking: the other two wished to stop.
Two of the three went to get libations at the store after a few, the Brit thankfully left, and I was left with some quiet. I wrote down one more paragraph, closed my eyes for 20, then skipped back down resigned to defeat.
Everyone was back, more or less coherent enough. We hung out for a good portion of the early evening. The table-tennis ball kept getting lost in the vines along the wall, and the cleaning lady on duty showed the less hospitable side of the hostel; earlier that afternoon, I had run up to my room to deposit my things… and I had to use the loo. I ran over the broom handle blocking the door. The place was dry and clean, so I thought – well, job’s done, I can pee.
Before I could shut the door, the cleaning lady shouted at me to wait, is it still wet??? I assured her that it was okay. She grumpily said I could use the toilet and stomped off. A good day to you, too! She also got a bit shirty when Lloyd and I tried to get the water off the ping-pong table. We had to fold the table up first to drain the excess water through the crack in the center, but we put it back to its normal setup for play. Apparently, that’s not allowed.
Dinner was edging close. Some of us ventured out to the supermercado to nab some beer, and in Micah’s and my case, food. Bread, cheese, salami, and potato chips. My health level is going down the tubes. I will need more salad soon. I was already feeling the booze by the time dinner-and-a-40 finished playing. The majority felt like a mini-amateur tapas tour tonight – so Enny, Micah, Alistair, Laura, Simon and another Aussie girl whose name I’ve forgotten went to the first place, a packed and stifling locale where both servers couldn’t understand my use of the word “ONE” and kept on giving me dos cervezas, and then got all snippy when I told him I really wanted one.
After two tapas, I began to feel too flushed and needed some air, so I sat in the alley for a bit. I think my departure here was better than Alistair’s. He went back to the hostel to piss because he couldn’t find the lav by the bar. Right.
Lauren and I talked for a bit outside about allergies. She had one of penicillin … which is in very low concentrations in red wine, and it gets exacerbated in sangria – which she had a smidgen of that evening. Her face was slightly flushed out there, which is apparently what happens. She talked about a friend of her’s allergic to milk (almost to the point of death) and her uncle who had an extreme aversion to watermelons. He can’t even go near or see them; when Lauren bought some to take home, they had to bury the rinds deep in the backyard so her uncle wouldn’t come across them. It made my aversion to bananas seem harmless.
We went back to the hostel to round up the others who hadn’t joined us for the first bar. A small group had been playing cards by the computer; and we scooped them up and went right back out, although it took a tiny bit longer because of people not being ready and also because it was a very large group now, not to mention having to deal with the annoying “Juan.”
The walk dragged and it took a while for people to catch up with the ringleaders: Simon and me. This was also due to the fact that a donkey had been tied to a lamppost, so that distracted quite a few of the drunker ones.
Our destination: tapas bar #2 from the first tour on my first night. I think it would have been better to melt into the bar counter with the amount of time I was ignored when I desired a blasted drink. I finally got a beer, but I had to tell that I didn’t get my appetizer along with it. I had two tapas there and expected the inevitable galumph back to the hostel, but it was off to bar #3 from our first night tour.
Tapas had already been cut off for the night, so it was just us hanging out for a bit with a few more beers. I knew I was going to regret staying any longer especially with the talks I had been hearing about a possible club in the offing after this. So I made my goodbyes and left for the hostel and into my bed.
I’m glad I’ve never experienced some drunk tosser pissing on me in the middle of the night; apparently this one guy did it twice to this one girl at a hostel somewhere else. He was in bed and it leaked from the top bunk onto the bottom one where the girl was. Twice. If I remember any other stories from this night, I must remember to add it here.