SOLO TRIP ROUND TWO!!! *Cue the alarms and flashing lights.*
That’s right! My second solo trip is under my belt, and I couldn’t be happier. This weekend was absolutely phenomenal, so if you don’t mind me gushing about the wonders of Granada and why you should visit, please read on.
I woke up early to catch the bus into Madrid (1 hour) to take the metro to the bus station (30 minutes) to take another bus to Granada (5 hours). Except the first leg of the journey took way longer than usual, which meant I barely made the Granada bus on time. As in, I ran through the bus station and was the last person on the bus before we left. I had about a minute to spare, but thank goodness I made it. So after the long journey, I walked about 40 minutes to my hostel which is in the Albayzín district of Granada. The winding streets were beautiful (and confusing), and there were these neat little shops all around. I spent a good amount of time wandering into these shops and checking out the wares that evening, but I also went to the Mirador de San Nicolas that night. This little plaza has the best view of the outside of the Alhambra, and seeing it lit up at night was amazing. Too bad my pictures didn’t turn out so well, but oh well! I ended my first night with some delicious vegetable cous cous and a glass of wine at a restaurant near my hostel. As much as I love traveling alone, I’m still trying to get used to the eating alone part!
On Sunday I slept in as best as I could (hostals are not the quietest places in the world), but then headed to Carmen de los Mártires, aka beautiful gardens nearby the Alhambra. I mean wow. Wandering through the different areas of these gardens was so peaceful and the views of the city were breathtaking. I was so thankful for the fact that it was December and the fall colors on the trees were so well-preserved! And even better? I got to see wild peacocks and peahens roaming around! They were absolutely gorgeous and they let me get pretty close to them without running/flying away. I was so happy there!
After the gardens, I made my way back to the Mirador to get some pictures of the Alhambra during the day since my night pics were a little meh. There was a little cafe/bar nearby too, with an outside terrace looking out over the Alhambra, so I treated myself to a nice glass of sangria and enjoyed the view.
In the afternoon, the hostel had a free walking tour, so I joined in on that. We went to so many places! We admired the street art by El Niño de las Pinturas, strolled through the gardens for a bit, walked up a ton of hills, and even went to Sacromonte, an area in Granada where people live in caves! We got to go inside of one of the caves and have a drink there, and we also got to see the outside of some of the “squatter caves.” We learned that it’s really cheap to live in the caves, especially because there’s no need for air conditioning or heat-it’s all natural!
Along the way, I got to know some cool people, including a guy from the US teaching English in Toledo and 3 girls from Australia who are backpacking in Europe. So that night we all went to a tapas bar called Poe and enjoyed Granada’s tapa culture! Granada is famous for having bars in which you can order a drink and get a free tapa, so we indulged. It was muy rico.
I tried so hard to be a good hostel roommate, and in doing so, I effed myself over. Long story short, I tried to keep my phone near me Sunday night so my early Monday alarm wouldn’t wake everyone up (it takes awhile to get down off a bunk bed to shut an alarm off, especially if your name is Kasey). However, because of this, my phone didn’t charge correctly and I therefore had no phone to take photos of the Alhambra. Cue the tears and the mild panic. I was distraught, until I remembered I had my GoPro to take pictures! Problem solved!
So I set out early in the morning with my tourist map in hand (no phone=no Google Maps) and made my way to the ticket office to pick up my ticket for the Alhambra, the famous fortress/palace in Granada.
As soon as I stepped foot inside the grounds, my life changed.
I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life. The intricate details and designs of the Nasrid Palaces were incredible. The Alcazaba, the fortress part, was very impressive and had magnificent views. I fell in love with the beauty of the Partal and the Generalife gardens. The grandeur of it all was breathtaking, and I was captivated. I truly hope that everyone I know will someday get the chance to visit…just make sure to buy your tickets in advance or you’ll have to wait in line at 6:00 am!
After spending a few hours at the Alhambra and eating a snack in the courtyard where there were a bunch of cats running around, I headed back to the hostel to charge my phone and prepare for my visit to Hammam Al Andalus, an Arab bathhouse. These bathhouses were important to Muslims because to them, water is the symbol of purity. Plus, these bathhouses provided the opportunity for socialization. However, many were destroyed by Christians because they were seen as inappropriate. This hammam is one of the first to be reopened after it closed in the 16th century. It was a very interesting experience, but after a long day of walking around, I wanted to treat myself! Here’s how it went down:
Upon entering and checking in, I was given little booties to cover my shoes. I was shown to a changing room where I put on my bathing suit and put my things in a locker. Then I entered the rooms with the baths. There were 4 baths from what I can remember, each in different sectioned off areas. One was very small and was the cold bath. There was a long bath that was shallow and hot, as well as a smaller, deeper hot bath. Then there was a very large and deep warm bath. You’re supposed to go between these baths and sit and relax and enjoy yourself, which I had a little bit of a hard time doing, simply because I had no idea what the heck I was doing. I tried to take my cue from everyone around me, but seeing as several of these people were couples who decided to engage in PDA, I just decided to do my own thing instead. I went between the baths at my leisure, particularly enjoying the hot baths and spending minimal time in the cold bath because let’s be real, I’m not trying to pretend I had been on the Titanic and swimming around in freezing cold water. I even tried the steam room but lasted a solid 45 seconds before I thought I couldn’t breathe anymore and made my escape.
After awhile, it was pretty relaxing. The lights were all dimmed, there were candles everywhere, and soft music was playing. Plus the bathhouse itself was beautiful architecturally. But then, the main event: the massage! I splurged for the 30 minute one (treat yoself) and ohmygosh it was so relaxing. I was so content and happy and I really didn’t want to leave after that. But alas, all good things come to an end.
That night, several people from the hostel went on a tapas tour and we ate some more delicious food and enjoyed each other’s company.
I slept in a little on this day and then headed to the Granada cathedral and took a tour of that. It was incredibly large and elaborate and beautiful. I also wandered the streets a little before it was time to head back to the bus station.
Just like last time, I’m very happy with the way this solo trip turned out.
Another piece of news: the teachers and auxiliares at my school all went to this fancy dinner at a restaurant called La Partida in Villanueva de la Cañada last Friday and it was delicious! I feel very fortunate to work with such amazing people.
And now? Now I’m gearing up for my trip to Milan, Italy with Minorka and Carolina! Stay tuned!