This past weekend I went on an excursion with my school to the area of Andalucía in Spain. We visited the cities of Cordoba and Granada and saw plenty of cool stuff while we were there.
So first of all, the bus picked us up at 5am so I had to be up at 4:30am, which wouldn’t have been terrible if I could have gotten to bed at a decent time. If you’ve been reading along with my blogs thus far, I assume you’ve caught onto the pattern, but I did not get to bed early. I had agreed to go out with my host-mom and a few of her students the night before, thinking it wouldn’t take long, but alas, it turned into a while ordeal (a story for another time). So anyway, after about 4 hours of sleep, I hopped on a bus and was on my way.
I slept for the first couple of hours on the bus before we stopped at a hotel for breakfast. The breakfast was incredible. The Spanish aren’t huge about breakfast so I got some bacon and had yogurt as something other than desert for the first time since getting here. Promptly after eating, we got back on the bus for another couple of hours before our pit stop in Cordoba.
Our time in Cordoba consisted of a guided tour of the Mosque/Cathedral. So, here’s a brief history lesson: Spain has a long history of conquests and re-conquests between the Catholics and Muslims, so it is very common to see a mix of these two cultures in the architecture. The Mosque/Cathedral is a perfect example of this as the massive building still contains all of the original Islamic art but has the addition of Christian artwork and a large cathedral in the center, where mass is still housed on Sundays.
After seeing the Mosque/Cathedral, our tour guide took us to the “Calleja de las Flores,” a beautiful, narrow alleyway that is lined with tons of colorful flowerpots. After another hotel-catered lunch (which included gluten friendly bread and pasta for me!!!), we got on the bus one more time to head to our final destination in Granada.
There was an optional “Flamenco Spectacular” that I decided to go on because we were in the area of Spain that is famous for this style of dance. Those of us that signed up to go piled into a mini bus to drive up the mountain to where it took place. The bar itself was inside of a natural cave that had been transformed into a flamenco bar so that alone was pretty neat. The music and dancing was incredible also. I love flamenco music, with the beautiful guitar and unique singing and the dancing was just as impressive. All of the dancers were easily in their 50s-60s but they moved with such grace and passion. The experience was worth going to for sure.
The next day we had a guided tour of the Alhambra, a HUGE palace and fortress. The tour definitely drug on a little (I lost interest in the tour guide after about an hour of the 2+ hour tour) but the grounds and buildings were stunning. Afterward we were given free time for the rest of the evening so a few friends and I got some food, did some shopping, and then decided to head back to Alhambra (via a very, very steep hill) to try and catch the sunset. Afterward, we got dinner at a vegan restaurant where I thoroughly enjoyed my gluten-free, vegan Mediterranean pizza
On Sunday, a few friends and I went to mass at the cathedral before we had to get back on the bus to head home. We also stumbled upon a street dance because Spain is celebrating Caranaval at the moment, which is basically just a 5-day long “fat Tuesday,” before lent begins on Wednesday.
All in all, a fun weekend in a fun part of Spain and now I can’t wait to go back to Andalucía for Semana Santa (Holy Week) when my parents come to visit.