Tuesday, January 17, 2012

El Albaicin!

The rain stopped and it was really sunny all day, almost 50 degrees (when you stand in the sun) with the exception of the wind. This morning we had class from 11am to 1pm about culture shock, like always, and a little bit about grammar and all that jazz.  Afterwards we went with Marco to get our phones and because we were the last ones to get them, we got new ones since they ran out! They're pretty basic and are terribly difficult to do anything with, kind of like a little brick with buttons and a speaker.  We only had an hour for lunch (which is crazy, usually takes an hour or three..) because we had to meet our group across the city for a tour of the Albaicin.  So from 4 to 7 we walked around the most beautiful part of the city (the section that has the Alhambra).  The women that guided us, Maricarmen, is one of our teachers and she wrote a book on the Alhambra, so turns out she knows basically everything there is to know! good news for us :) and shes really funny and easy to understand. The Albaicin in a nutshell is the really old Islamic part of town. When you first enter the Albaicin its at a bottom of a hill with all sorts of really old cobblestones (they were even replacing some of them when we walked by) and the river runs along the side of the street.  OH! and super fantastic, theres this one section with these stone bridges and trees along the riverside COVERED in cats! yes a tree full of cats! I know everyone reading this is sighing, and shaking their heads saying oh, Shannon, you obsessive cat lady stop making this up, but seriously, there were 7 cats sitting in this big tree and about 10 more drinking from the river :)  so we continued to walk along the cobblestone paths and up stairs and hills, we were so happy Filo told us to wear hiking shoes, and all the while Maricarmen was telling us stories about all the buildings and the history of the Moors and the Spanish royalty.  We stopped at a building that used to be a dormitory for the University of Granada, which is unbelievable because it was absolutely gorgeous.  It was this giant garden that sat on top of a massive hill that was directly across from the Alhambra.  It was pretty cold because there isn't a lot of sun up there, because all of the buildings are close together, and make a lot of shade.  Again we continued to travel upwards until we reached the very top of Granada.  Every picture that you've ever seen of the Alhambra, on a postcard, online, anywhere... was taken from this spot. You can see the Sierra Nevadas covered in snow, next to the Alhambra, looking over the the entire city of Granada, while the sun was setting!! Most beautiful scene I've ever seen. (no pun intended.) I'll share :)  It was really windy and really cold by the time we started our descent.  On the way home we walked by a pet store full of kittens too! obviously its my lucky day, cats and no rain! :D  Casey and two of our other friends stopped by a cafeteria for tapas before dinner, because it was only around 7pm and we were very cold and hungry. We stayed til almost 8:30pm and went home for dinner.  Pizza tonight, with Filo (madre), Pepe (padre), Susana (hija), Paco (esposo de la hija) y Susanita (la nieta).  Paco is really funny just like Pepe but a little younger and more understanding and fun to talk with.  The little girl, they call Peque (short for pequeñita which means little one) was much less scared of us today and we played with her and she gave us hugs and spoke to us all night instead of being shy and screaming-- much better to say the least.
Hasta Luego!

ps. sorry this is so long!!

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