15 April 2009

Semana Santa--Holy Week

15 April 2009

Happy almost 8 month anniversary to me! Wow. 1.5 months left. SO MUCH TO DO!!!!!

Spring break part II in southern Spain was cool. We were down there during Semana Santa or Holy Week. After resting on the 7th, we were back at the airport at 5:45 am on the 8th. I’m seriously so sick of El Prat. I mean, it’s a great airport, but I’m there almost every 4 days!! Flying has lost its magic and it is now just a chore. Oh well. Gotta go through the bad to get to the good! We took the a bus to the airport this time instead of the renfe which was nice because we picked it up right by our piso and didn’t have transfer. Granted it took longer to get there, but that’s okay. Our flight attendants were on our bus too, haha! So once we got into Sevilla we had to take a bus into the city center where we wandered for a while since it was so pretty! We stopped at Starbucks where we had a drink (I had a frappucino or however you spell it). I still don’t really enjoy the taste of coffee, but I keep drinking it to see if the caffeine will ever affect me. So far, that’s a no! We saw the cathedral which was right across from Sbucks. After much walking around, we decided we better go to our hostel/hotel. We went to the bus station, but the lady at the ALSA window was a complete bitch. We eventually found a helpful bus driver and took a 45 minute bus ride out of the city to our 4 star hotel. AHAHA! How ridiculous. It was so gorgeous, our room had a loft, there was a pool, a hair cutting place on the main floor, and so much more. After throwing our stuff down, we got some lunch at the Mexican restaurant which was conveniently located across the street and headed back to the city! We went into about 9238 souvenir shops and then meandered by the cathedral. There were a bunch of horse drawn carriages over there and when one called us to take a ride, I asked how much it was and he said “for you, it’s free.” BAHAHA! So we laughed and walked away. I wonder what would have happened if I had really taken him up on his offer. The Semana Santa parades started in the afternoon. There were people of all ages involved. There were cute little babies all dressed up, teens, adults, and the strong Spaniards who had to lift the heavy floats and walk with them on the back of their necks. Some of them were standing by us and their necks were all bruised and cut open…poor guys. Not going to lie, it was quite cultish. There were tall hats that reminded me of the KKK, all sorts of religious paraphernalia, lots of candles, etc. Ridiculous. I felt so underdressed. All of the Spaniards were dressed all preppy and fancy and here I am in my flip flops, jeans, and zip up hoodie. Yeaaaaaah, sorry about that. Side note, apart from being a pretty city, I think Sevilla houses some of the most attractive Spaniards. Like, whoa. We were back to the hotel at about 12am where we slept in since we would be sleeping on the streets the next night!

The next morning, we checked out and took our bags to the Santa Justa train station so we wouldn’t have to carry them around with us for about 24 hours. Once back in the main part of the city, we headed over to Plaza de España which is SO beautiful! Apparently it was used for some of the more recent Star Wars movies? We took a bunch of photos before heading across the street to the big park! We rented a bicycle built for 4 and took it for a spin around the park. It kind of reminded me of the Flintstones car, haha! We got slushies along the way since it was so hot out! We watched some more of the Semana Santa processions before going to our flamenco show which was amazing! My videos from it are kind of wobbly since I was trying to make it look like I wasn’t taking a video, so I’ll put a youtube video at the bottom for anyone who doesn’t know what Flamenco is. SO COOL! Loved it so much! After the show, we went back to the cathedral to wait for more floats! It had really gotten cold at that point since it was about midnight and I was in a t-shirt and a scarf (and pants obviously). Dumb, I know. We went to SBucks again but this time I went for my traditional hot chocolate! Yay! We watched the floats go by til about 3:30 am with the rest of the Spaniards who must have changed into warmer clothes while we were at the Flamenco show. Damn them for being tricky! This time, the bands weren’t playing and everyone was in total silence. It was actually quite cool. It’s amazing how many people were there to see all the floats. Southern Spain definitely has more hardcore Catholics! We took a cab to the train station so Kelly could buy her ticket and so we could be warm and sleep in an enclosed area. Wrong. The station guards wouldn’t open the doors until 5:30 because they didn’t want anyone sleeping in there. There were so many people waiting, it was ridiculous! Some boys came up and asked where we were from and when we said the US, they just looked at each other and walked away. Umm, what?! No words? Really? Not even an “oh?” Wow. Anyways, they let us in at 5:30 and once on our 7:00am train, I slept most of the way on the table.

The ride into Granada was so pretty! I know there are mountains and stuff in Barca, but these were different! Aside from the farmland covered smaller mountains, there was the Sierra Nevada! So cool! Not so cool was how cold it was when we got off the train. Isn’t Granada supposed to have like 80 degree weather?! Damn! It sucked that I had mainly packed tank tops and flip flops for this trip =/. We found our hostel and then walked around by the Cathedral, went in some shops, and got a croissant at a local bakery. After walking around town, we attempted to do the real tapas experience. Fail. The service was terrible at the first place we went to. We ditched out and went to a cute café on the main road for lunch instead. After walking around on some of the back roads, we headed back in for a nap. Another failure since we ended up sleeping for about 5 hours. Oops! So we dragged ourselves out of our hotel for dinner. We ended up finding a chino restaurant a few blocks down on Gran Via and ate there. They were playing Pearl Harbor dubbed in Spanish on their TV and we were totally transfixed. After some fried noodles and veggies, we got some squishy candy and muffins for the morning and ran back to the hotel and turned the movie back on! I had totally forgotten about that movie. After the war started, I ditched out and went to bed. Traveling is exhausting!

I got up at 5:00 am the next day and got ready only to find out that everyone else was still sleeping when we were supposed to leave. I don’t even know why I was surprised—that always happens! So I laid around until 6:30am when we left to go the Alhambra for real! I had talked to Allie the day before and she said they left at 6 and still had trouble getting tickets. Ludicrous! While in the line, we found Karen, a girl from our program who was traveling solo, and adopted her for the day. It was SO cold! I couldn’t even walk properly because my toes and legs were frozen! Luckily there was a cute dog that looked part German Shepherd there to distract me a bit. I got some hot chocolate as well, which helped for about 7 minutes. We ended up just missing the morning session tickets and got the 2:30pm ones. Since it was only about 8:00am, we headed back down the mountain. Seeing as I was so incredibly desperate for warmth, we stopped at Blanco where I got a 6 euros pair of flats and some cute socks. Thank god!! They’re really cute flats, but they would soon become the death of me. We went to a café, did a little shopping, headed back up to the Alhambra to get some lunch, and then finally were able to enter the Alhambra! The Alhambra is part fortress (the Alcazaba), part palace, part garden (the Generalife) and part government city (the Medina). It overlooks the city of Granada and is often considered on par with the 7 wonders of the world! The Alhambra was a palace, a citadel, fortress, and the home of the Nasrid sultans, high government officials, servants of the court and elite soldiers (from 13th- 14th century). We are actually talking about the Muslim occupation of Spain in art history class right now, so we were able to identify many of the defining architectural characteristics. It was seriously amazing. Everything was so detailed and beautiful. So many different types of flowers, lots of running water, and lots of bright mosaics! After a long afternoon of taking photos and walking all over the mountain, my feet were screaming. These flats were definitely not designed for hiking up and down uneven stone paths! We took the bus down, said goodbye to Karen, and then waited in the cold rain to see if the floats were still going to come down Gran Via. Didn’t look like it. We met up with Lindsay who is studying abroad in Granada. We went back to our hotel for a while and decided we would meet back up in 1.5 hours for a real tapas experience! Yay! We all fell asleep and had a hard time waking up again. I’m so glad we did though! This tapas place was so cool! They have this drink called Tinto Verano which is red wine with lemon Fanta in it—SO GOOD! So those were 2 euros and with every drink you order, you get free tapas. So we did two rounds, spent 4 euros each and were stuffed! We definitely slept well that night!

¡Feliz Pascua! For Easter we walked up by where Lindsay lived so we could meet up with her after she got out of mass! We got some lunch at a café and they gave both Kelly and I the wrong sandwich. Lame! Why would I want pork AND jamón serrano on a sandwich? Jamón serrano is disgusting…anyways we went to this big park that has something to do with Federico Garcia Lorca (woo), and laid on some grass since it was actually sunny out! After about 15 minutes of the glorious sun, we met up with Lindsay at a park by her house. Kelly and I played on the swing set and then went to join them on the bench. We met up with Kelley, another girl in our house who is studying in Granada, and they led the way up the Albaicín to the Mirador de San Nicolás. Whew! That was a hike! It was definitely rewarding though! We had a perfect postcard view of the Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada in the background! So beautiful! The actual Mirador was cool too. This is the area where all of the extreme hippies hang out and sell their hand crafted goods! There were lots of dogs and bare footed Spaniards playing music. There were a lot of labs, one black lab puppy, and one german puppy! I was in heaven! The walk down the mountain was quite possibly worse than the way up since my feet were practically paralyzed by this point. Carolyn (who had bought the same shoes) and I were walking like little old people! We were all hunched over and swinging our arms like crazy just to get some momentum. Everyone laughed at our expense, haha! We were all freezing and decided to stop for some churros and chocolate. Our waiter was a total douche bag. I only had a sprite since I didn’t want to deal with Captain Sassypants. We said goodbye to the Granada girls shortly after and ran some errands around town! Later that night, we went and got 3 rounds of drinks and tapas at the same place as the day before. The guy who worked there was so adorable. He spoke to us in English since he was trying to learn and we spoke to him in Spanish. What a dude! We got on our bus at 11:30 pm and arrived in Barcelona around 10:45 am. I survived! I thought it was going to be torture, but it actually wasn’t so bad, partly because it meant I didn’t have to use my feet. Being on the bus for that long made me realize that the flight home to America won’t be so bad! It’s been so nice to be back home in Barca, and it’s crazy to think that I’ll be in the air again in less than 24 hours! Vienna and Bratislava this time!


If you're not sure what Flamenco is, click HERE to watch this youtube (click about 1/4 of the way in)

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