After a month and a half here in Granada, I have finally visited La Alhambra! Not just been to it, walked around it, but actually been inside the walls and seen the house of Carlos V. Gloria told me it would have been an unforgivable insult to have lived here this whole time and never actually seen it, so to avoid that, I went with one of my Spanish friends, Antonio, this last Friday.
The whole structure/fortress/I’m not sure what to call it, is really impressive and has a strikingly beautiful, yet powerful feel about it. Every building, door, wall and garden has such ornate details to it, that it makes me feel as though every building in America is obsolete! The coolest part, was that every structure, house, and door has some sort of story or history behind it. There is even a legend about one of the entrances to La Alhambra, where a very large arc stands, similar to the Arc du Triumf, but with an Arabic influence in its structure. It is built around a set of doors, (and when I say doors, I don’t mean like the ones that we have for houses or buildings there, I mean a huge, wall-like structure that would take either a machine or 3 very large, muscled men to push open!) with a bunch of ornately colorful carvings surrounding the Virgin Mary, and above everything at the top of the arch is a hand, palm up, directly in the center of the arc. Now, the legend says that if that hand ever touches the doors, then all of Granada would completely disappear from existance. So cool right?! I don’t know why Granada would disappear, or where the legend stems from, but I do love a good, historic legend with a hint of believability that makes me wonder if it actually might be true :)
In addition to the legen…wait for it…dary entrance (that one’s for you Cush, and for any other Barney Stinson fans), all the buildings were truly awe-inspiring. The first and only building we were able to enter strongly resembled the Roman Colosseum but on a much, much smaller scale. The entire structure is a hollowed out, two stories circle with pillars every few meters and a wide open floor in the center. It was really impressive, and Antonio told me that they often hold concerts there in the summer. I wish I could have seen one of them, but I put on my own little show as I sung “Ain’t no mountain high” just to hear the cool echo from the center! Haha that’s right, I was THAT tourist and I loved every second of it!
Unfortunately, because we weren’t part of a guided group who actually payed for a tour, our access was mostly limited to the main courtyard. It was a little disappointing, but I was still very happy just to see and touch the buildings, view some of the gardens, and overlook the entire city below us. La Alhambra sits on top of a large hill so you can imagine that every view is a good one, but at the top of one of its turrets is the best view of Granada in the entire city! It’s part of the restricted access, though, so I wasn’t able to see it, but the view from the courtyard was satisfying enough for me! If I ever come back here, though, I am definitely going to spend the money for a complete tour! People tell me that you could spend 3 or 4 hours there and still want to come back the next day and see something new that you hadn’t the previous day! Antonio said that between school trips, family trips, and showing around friends (such as myself) he’s visited La Alhambra over 15 times and still never tires of it!
After spending a couple hours walking around La Alhambra, we stopped for some lunch down in the city, then walked to a village called Sacramonte to try and meet up with Julia and the other girls I met last Sunday. We never actually found them haha but the houses there were so neat! It’s known as an Arabic neighborhood complete with gypsies and Flamenco restaurants, and the houses are built somewhat into the hillside similar to the cave houses. The main difference (that I noticed at least) between Sacramonte and Albycín is all its colors. There are paintings of flamenco dancers on the walls and buildings, the houses are painted blue, red and green, there are trees and plants everywhere, creating an almost animated scenery. It was really hard to be frustrated not being able to find the girls when all the buildings were so colorful and the views of La Alhambra and Granada were so gorgeous. I swear, I love this city and all its beauty!
Later that afternoon I met up with the girls at a pub for drinks and tapas and met 2 other Erasmus girls, one from France (almost as cool an accent as Tiffany, the girl from Kenya) and one from the US. They are all really nice girls, and when I hear where they’ve all traveled, lived, and how many languages they speak, I can’t help but feel as though the US is lacking in the cultured department. We boast about diversity and take pride in celebrating other cultures, but how many of us have lived outside our American bubble, or take the time to learn another language (besides taking two years of a required language in high school)? I’ve come to realize that what I’m doing, living in Spain on my own, learning the language and the culture, is so precious and rare, and it’s a real shame that it is. I know that traveling is very expensive, let alone living here, especially now with the crisis and the decking value of the US dollar, but these girls have seen so much of the world already and they’re not even 21 yet!
I guess a part of me is jealous, and another part is inspired to see and learn as much about the world as I can, while I can! In light of that notion, starting in 3 days, I’ll be turning my thoughts and intentions into actions as I head to Madrid and England shortly after! England will be a nice vacation from having to translate 24/7, and I’ll finally be able to see a familiar face from home without a computer screen and thousand miles between us! I’m so excited to see another part of Spain and Europe, but I’m also sad to be leaving this wonderful, beautiful city. I’ve grown attached to Granada and my family here, and have promised myself, Rafa, and a waiter at a local cafe that I’ve made my second home, that I will make a point to come back to visit! I’m not sure when or how, but I’ll be back! Yes, those words are meant to be read in the voice of terminator.