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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Travelling through Time and Space in Granada

Good afternoon everyone!

Firstly, a quick note. What you are about to read was mostly written yesterday evening. As some of you will know, I was going to post it then but I didn't have time to finish it before getting our train to Barcelona, so I've had to finish it now. Anything that I've written today (including comical insights with the benefit of hindsight) will be in BOLD. Let's hope this shit works - don't let me down Blogger!

The post starts now...

I'm writing this from the LOBBY of our hostel in Granada. I'll explain later.

It feels so strange to be writing a blog post at this time. I don't think I've actually published a post before midnight yet! (LOL, I still haven't done this, fuck my life)
So me and Sam will be getting our night train to Barcelona at 10.15pm, which is why I'm writing this post now. I'm quite looking forward to it; it's an experience neither of us have had before so that'll be interesting. In a minute Sam's going to the mini supermarket opposite this hostel to stock up on cheap food for the journey - there is a restaurant cart on the train but I'm 99% sure our tickets don't get us free food and even if we do get food there it will probably be quite expensive. So we're gonna have bread, fruit and cookies instead!!

As for what we've done today, we've managed to experience quite a bit in the time we've had. As the only thing we properly visited yesterday was the Alhambra, which is just one region of the city, we still had a lot to explore. Lots of walking was involved today, which is good because at least we will be tired for the journey tonight. Me especially seeing as I went to sleep past 5am last night/morning. Maybe I will actually be able to sleep on public transport for once! (I wouldn't bet on it)

We've seen a whole different side of Granada today, and now we feel satisfied with what we have experienced here. It's been lovely.

So let's take a look at this other side of the city...


We really didn't want to miss breakfast again this morning, so Sam made sure he was showered and dressed for 7am, when breakfast is first served. That way we could really take advantage of the breakfast by stocking up on food for the day and for the journey tonight.

There was no way I was getting up that fucking early. That would have been less than 2 hours sleep. Fuck it, Sam can do the shit. I get my breakfast when I want it!

In the end it didn't even really matter that much, because it seems that our hostel's idea of breakfast is that it should just consist of two things: toast and corn muffins.

What the fuck? On HostelWorld, they said that they offer a free 'continental breakfast'. Really? I didn't know that everyone in continental Europe has fucking muffins and toast every morning.

So when I woke up at 9.30am, Sam came in the room carrying just five smuggled muffins. Anticlimax.

After showering and getting dressed I came down to get my fill of toast and muffins. I only had two slices of toast and four muffins in the end... there's only so much you can eat of the same thing. I also resumed work on my last blog post which I eventually posted earlier today at 1.30pm or something.

There was quite a funny moment in the breakfast room, though. These two guys that were probably about Sam's age took their empty plates and glasses into the kitchen where you are supposed to wash up after yourself. However, they just left them in the sink, so when they came out of the kitchen, one of the other guests stood up straight in front of them and she said "Excuse me, but you need to wash up your own plates, otherwise someone else will have to" in possibly the harshest voice possible.

Cue very awkward silence in the breakfast room.

The two guys looked at each other, and then hilariously trotted back into the kitchen with their tails between their legs, like they'd just been told off by Sir.



After this, I went back up to our room to finish the blog post. Sam needed caffeine, so he went out to a nearby café. We agreed to meet at 12.45pm near the café to visit the cathedral; that way, Sam wouldn't have to carry his obese body back to the hostel.

As usual, the post took me longer than expected to finish - I was still writing at 1pm.

But then something worrying happened.

Someone knocked on the door. I opened it, and a woman told me that it was time for us to check out. I said ok, but that we couldn't leave right now. She said 'it's fine' and then left.


We completely forgot that we'd need to check out because we're not staying at the hostel tonight. But we couldn't take our massive rucksacks with us everywhere during the day; that would have killed us. Not only that, but we hadn't packed at all. Our shit was everywhere.

As Sam wasn't there, he didn't have a clue about having to check out, and his phone isn't connected to the phone network, so I couldn't text or call him (in hindsight I could have sent an email as he was connected to wifi, but I suppose that's not the first thing you think of when you need to contact someone urgently). For a while I also thought he had the keys with him too, so if I went out to meet with him I'd have to leave our door unlocked, with all of our possessions still in the room. Luckily he'd left the keys, so I locked the room and went down to reception.

When I got there, I told the receptionist that we were meant to be checking out but we completely forgot and Sam was out. She said that we had to leave the room soon because more guests were coming, but she said we could keep our bags in a room behind reception. I said thank you, and then headed out to find Sam so that we could pack and get all of our stuff together and in the right places.

I got to the café but he wasn't there. He said before he left that he might go to an art store he saw to get a new mechanical pencil, but he said he'd be back within 15 minutes. So I waited for 15 minutes, and he turned up. I must have got there just after he left. Typical!

I told him the situation and we went back to the hostel, packed all our stuff and left it in the room behind reception. We were wondering what we were going to do about writing this blog post, but we decided that when we came back we'd ask at reception if it would be ok if we could use their wifi. As you can see, we can. That is why we're in the lobby.

It's quite funny really, because officially we haven't been guests since 1 o'clock this afternoon, and yet they have stored our possessions and allowed us to use their wifi for free since then. Result!

So we left for the cathedral, properly this time. Strangely, we couldn't find an entrance to it for ages. What the fuck? Surely it must be open for visitors? The value of the cathedral in terms of tourism would be massive, so how could they not allow people to visit?

In the end, as usual, we were just being stupid. We completely missed the entrance the first time we walked around the building, but we saw it the second time. The reason why it seemed to be closed was due to the opening hours - these were something like 9.30am - 2pm and 4pm to 6pm. At that point it was 2.10pm or something so we couldn't visit it, at least at that time.

This was annoying because we normally try to do indoor things between 12 and 3pm to avoid the strongest sunlight. The only other thing we'd planned to do was to walk through the Albaicin, which is the old district of the city. On our maps a route was marked which took us past most of the most interesting historic buildings in the region, which then took us back towards the centre of the city next to the river.

We wanted to experience as much of the city as possible, so this is what we decided to do. Even though I was knackered and we hadn't put on any sun cream, this is how committed we are to our trip. Go us.

I think the best way to do this part of the post would be to do another picture tour with explanations/captions/random musings. So sit back and enjoy, and be thankful you didn't have to walk up ridiculous slopes in the heat like we did.

If you do want to recreate the conditions, turn on your oven and carefully place person inside. Set temperature to 230 degrees and set timer for 2 hours.

Here we go.
The start of the walk - a gate into the old region of Granada. Reminds me a little of Canterbury!

Pretty houses and a small plaza at the beginning of the first big slope:

The first church we encountered - it had graffiti on the door. From what we've seen it seems that Spanish people have no qualms about doing graffiti on important/historical/religious buildings. I swear in England that would be completely condemned.


At the top of the narrow sloping road. The narrow streets in Spain make it pretty difficult for motorists and pedestrians as you can imagine:

The view from the top of the slope:
A lovely narrow cobbled street. I still haven't got used to these even though they've been in every place we've been to so far.
A very white church.

Another narrow street:

A random archway we found. This area of Granada is really quiet, and although it's very historic and interesting, there weren't many other tourists around. Which is why this seemed a bit out of context:

Now this was amazing. On this one bit of wall as we were walking down one of the narrow street, is a love confession.

I couldn't believe it when I was reading it. The fact that we were just passing by and happened to come across a snapshot of someone else's life; something that was so important to them and so intense that they published their feelings so publicly... it was incredible. If we'd turned a different way just moments before, we wouldn't have seen this, but we came across it and now a part of their life is a part of ours too. Meaningful shit.

A tiny plaza area.

The Alhambra that we visited yesterday from the old district.

Another small plaza area. It seems that the Spanish people make a big use of these plazas - to me it seems like a kind of substitute for a village hall or something like that. For example, when we were in Sevilla, a kid's birthday party took place in the plaza, and on another day some sort of religious ceremony took place in one. I suppose when the weather is so good all the time you might as well do everything outside!

A sign for a lost cat. We saw plenty by the river yesterday, they should probably try looking there! Again it was another snapshot into someone else's life.

This was really interesting. The sign says: 'We don't have shops or medical facilities nearby and now we don't have buses, taxis or access (I presume to the city centre?). Albaicin (the old region) = cemetery.

This was so perfectly placed for us. This was basically at the end of our walk around the old region, so we'd built up an impression of the area and what it was like. And then suddenly at the end, we see things from the perspective of the residents - it lacks in necessary facilities and is cut off from the rest of the city. And you can see that when you are there, but as a tourist you tend not to think about life from the residents' point of view.

Some nice old buildings by the river.

Sam sitting on a bridge over the river. Check out the old wall to the right of him too. In fact, the wall is much more interesting than Sam is. Yep, just focus on the wall.

Another old church.

Some amazing graffiti on a random water-network-box-pump-control thing. The speech bubble says: 'How ugly life is without death'.

Spain has a massive amount of graffiti as you have probably seen form the pictures in this blog. A lot of it is just shitty tags and stuff, but every now and then you come across some beautiful works of art, like this piece. A bit later on we found a similar box thing which had people's drawings in exercise books cut out and stuck on. There are some great artists out there, and you have to admire their confidence to display their art in such a way. People could tamper with it or rip it down at any time. They weren't photocopies either.

It reminds me of a quote from Banksy: "A wall has always been a best place to publish your work".

After the walk alongside the river, we ended up back in the centre of town again. We wanted to go and visit the cathedral, but we hadn't seen any fountains to fill up our water bottles during the walk, so we were very thirsty, and also hungry as we hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.

I said to Sam that I really needed sugary food to give me energy because I was so tired, so he suggested that we walk down a certain street to see if there was anything around.

I should have foreseen his evil intentions.

It 'just so happened' that we ended up in front of a place selling chocolate and churros.


He even admitted that it was intentional that we went down that street. But I couldn't say no because I did ask for something sugary.

What we ate must have been so fucking unhealthy; look at the chocolate in the picture below. That isn't watered down or anything, it's pure melted chocolate.

I can't believe I ate that shit.

We still hadn't managed to find water though.

We wanted to get back to the hostel by 6 o'clock so I could start this blog post, and at this point it was about 5.15pm. We still hadn't looked around the cathedral, which we were planning to do, but for 4 euros each and only 40 minutes in there, it wouldn't have been worth it. Plus, if I haven't already made it clear, I WAS REALLY THIRSTY.

We finally found a shop selling bottled water and got some. I wanted to take a few photos of the outside of the cathedral seeing as we couldn't see inside, but Sam wanted to get back to the hostel to get on with stuff, so we split up and then met back at the hostel at about 5.45pm.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

And then I went back to the hostel and met up with Sam.

So that's pretty much it for yesterday! We managed to see a lot, especially considering it was one of the day's where we were travelling too. I also like how we got to see a more cultural side to Granada and more in tune with the residents.

It's been strange adding to this post today now we're in Barcelona. I've might have created a few paradoxes in this post because of this... just try to ignore those. Today, yesterday... same difference.

I was so annoyed with myself yesterday when I didn't have time to post. Sam must have found it so funny - I swore so much. I mean more than usual, like every other word. I'll give you a sample sentence: "What the fuck, why the fuck is this fucking website so shit, why is the picture fucking horizontal; it's meant to be fucking vertical. For fuck's sake. FUCK!".

In the end I think it got to the point where my argument (with myself or to anyone who was listening) was just like "Fuck time!!! Time is so shit!" I absolutely hate being pressured by time, especially when people keep nagging you too. Luckily Sam didn't do that; I think he wanted to live to see out the rest of the trip.

But it's done now, and I'm actually glad I've had time today to do it because it is much more detailed than it would have been.

Ok it's time to leave it here for this post. But look out, because another post is coming your way very very soon. In fact it's practically a double post. So check it out!

Thanks for reading, and sorry about the lateness.

Jack - 5/6/12 - 13:02 in Spain, 12:02 in the UK.

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