Sunday, November 7, 2010

Parental Advisory: You will enjoy this city!

Holy blog post, Batman! Scouts honor, I will try harder to keep up with my blog posts from now on. That being said, the end of October was quite a busy and exciting month as November has been thus far as well. Allow me to begin with perhaps the most exciting event that happened in the time that I have been away from the blog: my parent’s visit! I can still remember the first day that they arrived so vividly. I was so excited I could barely sit through my Art History and Grammar classes (although the coffee didn’t help much with this) and when I was finally released from school, I flew off to meet them at the airport shuttle’s bus stop at the city’s Cathedral. Arriving much earlier than was necessary, I walked to a little fruit vendor, purchased a deliciously juicy green apple, and then made my way back to the bus stop. As I munched on my apple and nervously wondered if I had gotten the time and place wrong, the shuttle bus suddenly pulled up in front of me. I eagerly scanned the windows for two adorable yet frightened Americans when I saw my mother’s worried face in the back of the bus, she immediately started smiling, waving, and trying to point me out to my confused and tired father. My throat got tight, my eyes got puffy, and I immediately felt relaxed- I was so happy to see them! Next we made the trek to the Hotel Dauro II, their new home for the next two weeks, with slightly more class and fewer struggles than Pam’s and my arrival to the city two months before.

That night Mom and Dad had no interest in wasting any time whatsoever with worrying about jetlag and insisted that we go out for Tapas. I took them to “La Antigua,” my favorite Tapas bar in Plaza Nueva where the drinks are cheap and the free food is bountiful. After this delicious introduction to the culture of Granada, I brought them back to their hotel and told them where to meet me the next morning at 10:00 am. Now before you accuse me of instituting cruel and unusual punishment on my poor padres, I must inform you that they were quite willing- more Mum than Dad, but he was a good sport too- to wake up early for the city’s mercadillo. The mercadillo is a kind of outdoor flea market but with high quality items (mostly clothes) and extremely low prices. Teresa acted as our guide there, stopping on the way to buy us native Spanish fruit including the delicious- yet ridiculously messy- Chirimoya (no worries about the mess, mom was all over that with wet wipes and hand sanitizer for everyone). We all enjoyed the mercadillo and stayed for quite some time. Mum and Dad got to meet my friends Jayson and Mark too as they also went on the excursion with us.
The next day, Pam and I took Mom and Dad to San Mattias, the closest church to our house, for a Spanish mass- rather interesting! I have to admit, I’m not exactly sure when we did what, but I can at least say that I now know a lot more Tapas bars in the city than I did before. By recommendation of my host mother Ana, I brought my parents up el mirador de San Nicolas, a great lookout spot in El Albaicin to see La Alhambra. After we had feasted our eyes on the awesome view of the Alhambra at night, we ate at a restaurant up there, and then began our descent down the mountain. Deciding that we didn’t need to take the bus down as we had to go up to El Albaicin, we roamed the streets on foot and did our best to find our way back to Plaza Nueva. An excellent choice- the different Alhambra views and breathtaking small side streets made it all so worth it!

By themselves, Mom and Dad took an olive tour one day during which they got to see how olive oil is made, the history of olive oil production, and they got to taste different types of olive oil too (yes there are apparently many different types). They raved about the tour and seemed to learn quite a lot on it. They took excellent tours of the Alhambra and the Cathedral and were in complete awe of the amazing architecture and history of both ancient edifices. Mom and Dad also got to meet my Flamenco teacher, Ana, when we went out for Tapas on her birthday and when they came to my Flamenco class. Of course, we also visited the relaxing BaƱos Arabes. Need I even explain how lovely it was? Earlier that day, Ana had them over our house to meet the kids and to have coffee with desserts. It was so fun to translate for everyone!

Pam’s mom arrived safely in Granada on the 28th and we were so glad to spend a little bit of time with her and Pam before we all made our separate ways to Malaga, Spain. Mom, Dad, and I stayed outside of the city in Benaldamena in a gorgeous all inclusive resort that we got really lucky to get so cheap in the off season. The next day we took the train into Malaga and spent the day on a very informative open-air tour bus, we had lunch in a great fish restaurant, and then we went to the Picasso museum. It was amazing to see the work of such a legend in the city that he was born in and lived in until he was nineteen. After the museum we sniffed out an ice cream store and then found Pam and her mother, they stayed in a hostel close to the Picasso museum. We all walked to La Alcazaba, a similar ancient, Arabic city-castle like La Alhambra, but right in the middle of the city. The contrast of the old red stone next to the new, modern buildings was rather striking. As it was too late to enter, we climbed quite high outside of it and explored what we could while we enjoyed the amazing view of the Mediterranean city. The next day Momma, Poppa, and I spent lazily enjoying our hotel- a much appreciated and needed rest- and we went to the next town over, Puerta Marina, to window shop (me and Mom), look at all of the boats (Dad), and to enjoy our Spanish/Italian dinner (Italian food is quite different in Spain from how we know it in the US).

The next week was full of Tapas, calamari, Kebab, Falafel, and walks all over the beautiful city. Their last night here we walked up to el mirador again to show Pam’s mom the gorgeous view and then to walk down and hit as many tapas bars as we could. Mom and Dad did very well assimilating to the culture, especially when it came to siesta time. I feel so blessed to have had so much time with them and to have showed them my adopted city.

This past weekend, my friends Katie, Jayson, John, and I went to Guadix, a small town about forty-five minutes outside of Granada and well known for the cave homes that the people there live in. We rented a cave for a night and did nothing but have a sleepover. It was so cool! The cave was HUGE and rather cozy as well. Alright, I better leave you now so that I can at least sleep a little before my classes tomorrow.

PS May your tapas be cheap, your falafel delicious, and your cave roomy. I love you.
PPS Miss you already Mommy and Daddy

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