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Granada Travel Blog

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Me enjoying a drink on the Balcony on La Linea

Firstly 1,000 apologies to my legions of fans for not having written in such a long time. Life has been busy and life is hard without a laptop! I´m writing this in a marble floored, open roofed house is Granada. I have been here for about 4 hours and I absolutely love it. The 6 weeks point has been and gone and my time here is rushing past.

I enjoyed my time in Cadiz, especially my second week, but it didn´t quite have Sevilla´s magic. It helped that during the second week I had a few more companions at the school; an Australian couple and a Brazilian guy who was also in Sevilla.

Walking across the airport runway on Gibraltar
I enjoyed my meals at the residence and very quickly the metal bunk bed and empty room became home. It felt overwhelming sometimes to be sat amongst the rapid conversation at meal time, catching snippets of words and sentences and being bewildered by the Andalusian accent. Moreover, it felt lovely to sit amongst it and feel part of it; the Spanish have such a natural attitude and my housemates and the 2 owners (who cooked and cleaned) were a little family, calling each other Niña and mama. Their pet dog became ´mi cerdo´because he always made grunting noises and snored. It was with a lump in my throat that I hugged them goodbye and exchanged emails. It was a hugely different from my time in Sevilla but I enjoyed it a lot. On Wednesday there was the festival of San Juan which is apparently very big in Alicante and I´m afraid I can´t tell you much about its origins.
Ducks inside a MOD compund in Gibraltar. I told you its weird
Some American friends of mine from Sevilla can to join me and it was a lot of fun. The festival appears to be about going to the beach late at night with a lot of people and drinking; perfect! Oh, and there are candles scattered across the beach and occasionally people jump over large fires made on the sand though they´re not supposed to do that anymore. A local told us that traditionally we have to write something we wish to forget on a piece of paper, burn it and then write a wish on another sheet of paper then throw it into the sea. I did the latter part and waded into the sea with my friends to throw paper into it and then we had to jump over 7 waves (though perhaps he made that last bit up - he could have told us anything really) but it is an image that will stay with me. Spain is alive at night and it was lovely to see so many people huddled on the beach, to dance and follow a band of Brazilian drummers and walk barefoot in cool sand.
Colleen and I clubbing in La Linea

On Friday night a friend and I drove (she owns the car, the brave soul) to Gibraltar to stay for 2 nights. All I can say is that it is an immensley weird place. It was like a particularly strange and not that interesting dream, or like someone went crazy in a London tourist shop and decorated a street in Spain. We crossed the line and suddenly there was a double decker red bus, a red phone box and Winson Churchill Avenue. Obviously the director of the film Caffeine had taken inspiration from here; if you´ve seen that movie you will know what I mean if you havent then don´t bother. We had fish and chips (of course) and went to a couple of bars but one of the things I don´t miss from England is the stingy alocohol measurement system. So we tried a club, were refused because we were not under 19 (the most offensive moment of my life) and went back to Spain to a club in La Linea.

I finally made it up that damn rock. Thats Africa in the background
Just a note that the hotel in La Linea, AC Hotel, was smashing and included a free minibar (the first in my life) and I will make sure I write a positive review. La Linea itself is not a pretty place but there is little reason to go there other than if you are visiting the big ol rock. So Gibraltar town did not impress me too much. It is just strange; it reminded me of the car track in Lego Land where you drive around a little pretend town - nothing felt real, it still seems unfeasible that people are actually born and bred there. It also felt as exotic as walking down Sittingbourne high Street. That said, I have to say that I enjoyed going up the actual rock a lot. We took the cable car (Note, I´m sure the taxi guides are fine but they tell a lot of porkies, the cable car is not 26 euro) and combined it with a nature park tour.
A monkey looking philosophical. Probably plotting how to steal my bag
There are plenty of options but this one was only 17 euros and it was sufficient. I have been to Gibraltar before but I was 5 years old though I still have a memory of the view, the monkies and the heat. All 3 were pretty acurate and the sun managaed to penetrate through my factor 50 though luckily I only got a bit pink. The monkies are fascinating but a little creepy to be honest. Within 5 minutes we witnessed one robbing a woman´s handbag and bounding off with a sandwich. They are clever, cute, amusing little creatures, but they are sneaky and always have your eye on your bag and you can´t open it in front of them or they´ll have it. Apparently they pinch cigarrettes too. They also bet on the horses and get the cable car to clubs in La Linea at night. Well, maybe.

The views are stunning. No amount of English tack and monkey cuddly toys can distract from that. Africa is very clear and a thick line of cloud sat around the mountains of Morrocco, giving it a mysterious edge. We walked around the touristy bit where the cable car stops and then we were on our own. Literally. It is strange that the cable car area is so catered to tourists yet the walk is actually very badly monitored and there are very few maps/signs. We befriended a bewildered looking American girl and we set off together to try and reach some kind of peak. We climbed on some ruins though God knows what they were, though they gave fantastic views, and I sweated and panted my way to the other side of the rock. After reaching it, feeling a little underwhelmed (on reflection we probably should have gone to the other side of the rock) we found St Michael´s cave and it was wonderful, not only for its stunning beauty but because it was nice and cool :) I have been lucky enough to see a natural cave before, on a boat in Pennsylvania, and this one was just as good. They played classical music and it was just a lovely, peaceful and slightly eerie experience. Not as eerie, however, as the descent back down. The cable car had shut so we decided to go down on our kackered little legs. It gets very quiet, there are shut off areas probably owned by the Naval base in the rock (weird) and at one point we were on a path with about 7 dead birds in a line. I half expected to turn the corner and find a dead dog, a bear and then possible a tourist with a Nikon camera around their neck. Lets just say I was glad to get down and we celebrated with more fish and chips (our new American friend photographing the meal and the sachets of brown sauce) and Pimms & lemonade. It being England, however, all the shops had shut (well it was after 7) and we decided to go back to Spain and pass out at the hotel.

Yesterday we discovered Tarifa. I got the idea to see it months ago when I saw it on the map and saw that it was the Southernmost part of Spain. A few days later I read a small article about it in the paper. I still had the idea and had done a bit of research when I saw someone with a Tarifa tshirt in Cadiz. For some unknown reason that single sight made me think, "ok, I´m going to go there" and I´m glad I did. A few people had warned me about the wind and told me it was boring, with nothing to do, but the few hours I spent there made a huge impact on me. Once you get past the ugle buildings and signs for crossings to Morrocco, you arrive in a small town and we headed straight to the beach. We had an absolutely amazing Morroccon meal on the seafront and then ventured to the sea. It is windy, yes, and not the kind of place to lounge around for ages, but to be honest that suits me fine. The best part was the water. The waves crash and gather momentum unexpectedly and the water is so beautifully clear, it just invites you back in again and again to fight with the waves. The sand is white and the mountains of Spain sit behind you and the moutnains of Africa are so close you feel you can touch them. It is pretty magical and I love the idea that I have seen the southern most part of this country. The town too (once you get away from the slightly seedy ferry port area) is beautiful and tiny with little hippy and surfer shops and bars. Being Sunday, a lot of them were closed though thats probably a good thing as I could have spent a fortune. It is definietly a cute place and on the drive back Colleen pulled over to a campsite and we walked through it to the beach and watched children on boodie boards and people kite surfing. I will go back for sure.

So now I´m in Granada after a traumatic start - well - actually I just got locked into Colleen´s house for a couple of hours and then had to walk to Utrera station in the Sevillian heat then a 3 hour train journey here but I´m happy. Granada from what I have seen so far is gorgeous and alas, full of wonderful shops that I have to try and avoid. I´m staying at the White Nest hostel and so far I´m impressed though my bedspread is like they skinned a character of Sesame Street. I will have to write another thumbs up review soon. I have a wash one, which always makes me happy (maybe I am more like my mum than I though) and I´m still aching from that British rock so think I will finish up and have an early one. I´ve booked a ticket to the Alhambra for Wednesday and looking forward to exploring tomorrow. I´m back in 35 degrees plus heat but so far, everything is fantastic.

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Me enjoying a drink on the Balcony…
Me enjoying a drink on the Balcon…
Walking across the airport runway …
Walking across the airport runway…
Ducks inside a MOD compund in Gibr…
Ducks inside a MOD compund in Gib…
Colleen and I clubbing in La Linea
Colleen and I clubbing in La Linea
I finally made it up that damn roc…
I finally made it up that damn ro…
A monkey looking philosophical. Pr…
A monkey looking philosophical. P…
Granada
photo by: Chokk