EMAIL: Hola from Granada
Granada Travel Blog› entry 8 of 13 › view all entries
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Hola from Granada
Greetings from Spain. As some of you will realise, we are away again.
We flew from Auckland into London where we recuperated from our flights and caught up with friends ... along with a little bit of sightseeing, mainly revisiting familiar spots but trying hard not to pay for too many entrances which convert to substantial NZ dollars. Along with us, we brought Kim´s parents and a couple of friends Matt and Stephanie.
From London we managed to fit in a couple of days in Paris ... which was of course magical! What´s there not to like about the city ... the popular notion that the French are unhelpful to those who speak English didn´t hit us at all! We climbed halfway up the Eiffel Tower to avoid the snaking queues for the lift tickets, and then took the upper level queue to the top. We also waited for this spectacular mesh of metal to light up against the evening sky.
We just arrived in Granada after having covered Seville and Cordoba ... all in Andalucia, southern Spain. All three cities are well known for the Muslim heritage that is exhibited in the architecture, and in some cases juxtaposed by later ornate Baroque styles. The most famous of all is probably the Alhambra which we will visit tomorrow, but close behind is the Mezquita in Cordoba. The latter is a mosque built by the Moroccan Arabs who ruled this land about a thousand years ago but the building now includes a cathedral in the middle! Actually this kind of conversion is quite common in the region and is quite opposite of what´s happend in Turkey ... the Aya Sofia was a Byzantine Church that was converted into a mosque.
We´re very lucky that things have run smoothly. I pre-booked our accommodation in Spain ... just as well as everything seems to be full everynight. There are masses of tourists everywhere. The scale of tourism is beyond our expectations ... and that is excluding those on beach package holidays who may not venture to any of the cultural sights. Despite this, English is not widely spoken and I´m coping well with my basic Spanish.
Here are some pictures of our homestay places, the Athens and Baghdad respectively:
Baghdad is richly decorated with beansprout (Arabic) scripts in part ... all authentic. However, there are less authentic manifestations of Arabic culture ... everywhere in Granada the Spanish (and some Arabs) are spinning a buck out of Arabic music, clothes, calligraphy, food etc etc. This is Morocco for those who are afraid of the real thing.
Sorry it has taken us 11 days to write our first lines home! We haven´t been gushing with stories to tell as this trip is quite "mainstream" ... we can drink tapwater the whole trip! And for the first time in ages, we´re not "special guests" but are part of the masses. In fact the most interesting stories would probably revolve around getting my US visa and our three hour transit:
- having answered truthfully "Yes" to my specialist skills in "chemistry, biologics, explosives" etc I was granted a US visa the next day ... only to realise there was a mistake in the passport number written on it
- my many attempts to contact the visa office was unsuccessful so I went in to see them ... only to be asked to go downstairs to the post office to courier the passport in to the exact same office!
- our transit was another experience ... everyone had to be "stamped" into the country, only to walk 10m to be checked out again!
- and never mind the endless searches on our baggage in Auckland. I was special ... I had to be searched twice, having everything taken out of my bags each time, then given a special escort ... along with males from other privileged countries including Indonesia and South Africa.
What´s next? We´re off to Madrid for a couple of days then back to London. From there we´ll visit my sister in Norfolk then my other sister in Guernsey. Then hopefully even my nephew in LA. I´ve never seen so much of family all in one year!
Until next time, Adios!
Alex & Kimball