We had previously arranged to stay with Anna's old host family in Granada, so that was a fun experience in and of itself. While I stayed with good old Inma 2 years ago, who had no young kids, just a rowdy old dog, Anna's family has two young sons. It was enjoyable to get to know the family that Anna always spoken so well and lovingly about! Upon our arrival, Anna's host mom prepared us some hot homemade soup and talked to us late into the night. Felt like we were being welcomed right back home :) The generosity didn't stop there; Anna's host mom made us lunch all but one of the days that we were in Granada! (The day she didn't make us food was because we had arranged to go to my host mom's for lunch!)
We had a pretty full agenda in Granada... the most important order of business on the list: TAPAS. I wanted to drown in tapas...eat until I burst...death by tapas... Up in Galicia we have been tortured endlessly by a lack of tapas. What is this maltreatment? I order a beer and then I have to pay for food to accompany it? I'd like to call my lawyer. Of course, in Granada it is the complete opposite, where they give you so much food you eventually have to go home from being too full of food rather than too full of wine.
The first day in Granada, we went and visited our old program building! IES had not changed at all. The same doorman, the same freezing entryway, the same tiled walls, the same workers...the only things that had changed were the photos on the wall and the students lounging on the couches and the terrace. I envied them. Oh! But ONE of the photos in IES still demonstrated a blast from the past... there was a poster up for the upcoming futbol game taking place through IES, and featured on it were the futbol players from our year, including myself :) We had the opportunity to get coffee with Javier (the IES Granada director...one of the kindest men alive!) and catch up on things. Afterwards Anna and I wandered around, particularly down the Moroccan tea streets where I got a huuuuuge dose of nostalgia. I don't know how many times I had walked down that main street, stopping at every other shop to gawk at the earrings while taking in the scent of various teas or incense.
That night began the first Tapas extravaganza. And it continued the next night...and the night after...and every night we were in Granada. Why the heck not?! Oh my gosh the pure delight of it all. I just calculated it, and we had 15 different tapas over the course of our time in Granada. Not bad! I was on a mission to take a picture of every tapa we ate, but of course I didn't do so well... most of the food was consumed before I even remembered to take my camera out. But! I did manage to capture some:
|1. Spicy Chicken at POE|
|3. Roscas, pasta salad, and patatas bravas at La Bella y la Bestia|
|4. Croquetas y pizza at the place right by my old home|
|5. Tortilla de patata|
|6. Carne en salsa at a place on Pedro Antonio I always went to|
|7. Albondigas at the same place|
|8. Meatball type thing at a Moroccan bar|
|9. Hamburguesa at Nido de buho :D|
The next morning was another milestone in our Granada journey... we were returning to the Alhambra for a full tour! We were fortunate to have awesome weather on this particular day, although in reality the sun didn't stop shining the whole time we were in Granada!...minus the last day. The weather must have been crying due to our departure heehee :P ANYWAY. We went back to the Alhambra!! Although I remember very little detail about the history of each room and site we saw, the nostalgia rushed back nonetheless. What a beautiful frickin' palace... Anna and I couldn't help remarking about how essentially every picture we had took this time around was the exact duplicate of pictures we'd taken 2 years earlier. I could definitely note a difference in my camera quality this time around though! OOh, also, there was a room (palacio de los leones) in the Alhambra that was being restored 2 years ago when we were in Granada, and it was finally finished so we got to see it! Well, I don't think I need to say much more about the Alhambra. It was magical, beautiful, breathtaking, nostalgic, heart-warming, and so on. I will make a note that we went to the Generalife, and it was a bit sad since none of the flowers had bloomed yet! But it still had its encanto.
(Note: I felt so whimsical and fairylike in La Alhambra that I went a little crazy with the filters on my camera...You will quickly notice.)
After La Alhambra, Anna and I made our way back to Plaza Nueva, where we slowly meandered toward my host mother's apartment. We wound our way down some of the streets where I would shop after class several times a week...ahhhhhhhhh memories. Once we got to my old street, I got warm fuzzy feeling #29 of the trip. Some things had changed, such as the club in the plaza, and a restaurant adjacent to the apartment. They were also redoing the street, making the walk more congested and less pleasant than usual. I rang the buzzer and I heard the familiar "Quien ehhhh?" over the speakerphone from Good Ol' Inma. (Wait, did I actually hear that? I might have just created that memory just now based on all the times I'd heard her say that before hahaaa). We made our way up the familiar ascenor, and up to the door. I rang the doorbell, expecting Rita's loud barking and feet sprinting toward the door. Instead a high-pitched pipsqueak of a bark, and light trotting toward the door. That's new! A frightened American girl answered the door cautiously, asking who it was. Once she heard my name she opened the door ( "Cynthia" must be the secret code lololol). So we met this girl and her house mate, the 2 Americans occupying my and my old house mate's rooms! I greeted them then quickly scooted in to get a view of the rest of the place. Totally unchanged. Inma emerged from the kitchen and down the long hallway to greet me! We hugged and I was divinely euphoric.
|Me and Inma|
"Cynthia, I think you've gained about 2 kilos. I see it in your face"
I wouldn't feel at home in Granada if I didn't have my Spanish mother telling me how it is. No filters.
hahhahahha much love Inma, my girrrrl.
I was able to meet up with my friend, Dana, with whom I used to play futbol when I was in Granada! I believe that same night was when I met up with my old intercambio, as well. It was nice to see old Grandino friends! Later that night, we had another tapas celebration, including a local favorite, POE! (See tapas picture 1). We met up with our friend Diane, who also studied at IES Granada the same semester as us, and is currently teaching English in Madrid! We also met her friend Melissa, and it was nice quiet night with lots of catching up :)
The next morning, Anna, Diane, Melissa and I took a little hike up through el Albayzín. It was a sweaty but worthwhile journey! We made our way up to el mirador San Nicolas... (see the first picture of the blog!) I think this is the first time I truly thought I was going to start crying. The sun was blasting rays of warm love on us, there were guys playing flamenco music complete with rhythmic clapping and Spanish guitar, and before us lay the magical work of art that is La Alhambra. In case I haven't expressed this before, I. Love. Granada.
As it turns out, this was not even the highlight of the day! No ho hooooooooooooo the best was yet to come... I was going to watch the Granada futbol team play against my beloved BARCA!!!! MESSI MESSI MESSI MESSI. I met up with Tyler and Greg, two guys who had also studied at IES Granada with us, and we made our way to the stadium that night. Finding our seats was literally just the worst experience. We arrived with about 40 minutes before game time, and we ended up not finding our seats until the game was already almost 10 minutes in. The seats and sections of this stadium are poorly labeled, people take whatever seat they want, you have to figure out the maze of stairs and walkways in order to get to a different section, etc. Eventually we found our seats (already occupied by some guy. Sorry, buddy, but I'll fight you if necessary) Luckily we didn't miss any of the drama of the match, and BOY was there drama! Granada was the first to score against the mighty Barcelona, at which point the stadium absolutely erupted into screams with everyone jumping on their seats, leaving the ground shaking. Meanwhile, I was bent over in my seat in agony, head in my hands lol. Only to later experience pure joy after Messi scored, screaming his name and cheering my lungs out...when I looked around you could have almost heard a pin drop. I was the only one in the whole stadium (it felt like) that was cheering for Barcelona. When I surveyed my surroundings after my obnoxious cheering, I noticed everyone else around me seemed to be attempting to lazer beam me with their eyes. SORRY NOT SORRY. VISCA BARCA! Barcelona ended up winning the game 2-1 (duh), but it was truly a closer match that I was expecting. It made for the best game I've ever been to, though! Oh man the excitement.
We continued the night, meeting up with the rest of the IES Granada alums as well as with Javier, the program director, to have a small reunion and get some tapas. How fun, man, to catch up on the past 2 years with these people, and also to have had such a genuinely kind and enjoyable director like Javier! He even let us go sit on the IES terrace after we were done with tapas, which felt so rebellious heehee. After we said our goodbyes to him, the rest of us made our way to 2 classic Granada landmarks: Chupiteria, and Granada 10. The night was far from over, and boyyy was it a fun night!!! It was such a fun group of people, and overall a really perfect Granada experience.
The next day it was a bit difficult to wake up... Anna's host mom made us delicioussss paella for lunch, and later we went over to my host mom's for churros con chocolate. We didn't have any huge plans for the day; in all honesty, it was more of a recovery from the night before. We met up with Diane and Melissa to have one final tapas outing. For this last outing we made our way to the plaza de toros to hit up el nido de buho, a bar that's definitely a Granada favorite. For 2.20 euros I got my Orange Fanta as well as a full cheeseburger and chips. It was a perfect ending to the tapas excursion/trip to Granada :)
We left early the next morning, and it was pretty sad... but as Anna's host mom pointed out though, at least we made it back. After leaving Granada the first time around, the saddest part was not having any sort of concrete idea as to when, or even if, I would ever return. 2 years later, I made it back! And I'm fully convinced that it was not the last time :)