Posts by Country

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frankfurt, Germany

12/18/2010

Today is the day; after two and a half months in Granada it's time to leave for Germany. Something to bare in mind when matching your ticket to your flight is that sometimes one airline will use another airline. Not to worry, if this is the case it will be noted at the bottom of your ticket, "Operated by SPANAIR Flight Nbr JK6623." It's good to look your ticket over for this information so you're not looking for "Lufthansa Airlines Flight LH6715" because, well, it's kind of hard to find a flight that doesn't exist! 

In Barcelona the connection to Frankfurt was delayed until 5p… on the upside this provided time for making  friends with another American from California. After finally arriving at the Frankfurt airport there was the fun experience of purchasing a metro ticket from an automated machine with options written in German. Fortunately, there is always someone in line who speaks both languages. Finally in Frankfurt the first thing to do after checking in at the hostel is find a decent Kebap and German beer… or so one might think. Frankfurt is a very international city and, having once been occupied mostly by Americans, it is probably safe to assume that it is more Americana than not.  The food is all Asian, Pakistani, etc. and finding anything remotely German takes a bit of searching. Fortunately, the back streets generally have some hole in the wall shops where one can find a reasonably priced Kebap and a beer with some good company.
Frankfurt: The City of Skyscrapers
12/19/2010

The hostel was not the best investment considering the circumstances. After getting back late there wasn't really any time to sleep before returning to the airport. Back at the station with some time to kill, a few croissants as recommended by the hostel, sounded like a good idea and would leave just enough to buy another ticket for the metro... but the metro wasn't running until much later. The train was coming soon, but it costs more than the metro because it goes further. A guy from Turkey was also in a pinch; he worked at the airport de-icing planes and was late. After talking for a bit he explained that the airport is only the first ten minutes of the two hour train ride and that they don't check passengers until much later. This made things very simple - hop the train or miss the flight. 

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)
During the short ride a German passenger explained something about Germany which resounded on a global scale. He explained that it's hard to find a good representation of Germany, even Munich being Bavarian is not a very good representation of German culture. This is actually true with any tourist destination - if you want something unique, you have to go off the beaten path. For example, the Wadden Sea of Northern Germany is one of the only seas in the world that recedes enough for you to walk out along the bottom. 
Waiting in line back at the airport a couple other Americans told me about their travels in the army. Apparently they found a loophole allowing them to get paid doing music gigs throughout Europe! 
Frankfurt Am Main Airport
In Chicago the cargo door was frozen shut so baggage took a while to arrive. The nice thing is that immediately after clearing customs in Chicago/O'hare, United Airlines, as well as a few other airlines, have a convenient hub for dumping off baggage so you don't have to lug it to the domestic re-check area. Note, this process can be a bit hectic and the attendants scanning your bags might, for example, mix up your flight and tell you that you missed it and then grab your bag and throw it on some random conveyor belt... but rest assured, they have everything under control!
Back in Seattle all the luggage came through as expected and after calling for a ride home, on a cell that still had its charge from four and half months earlier, it was time to go home. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

La Alhambra

12/17/2010

At 2a some friends were having a going away Christmas celebration at Kamel. This was more appealing than the prospect of laying in bed trying to sleep so I went looking for it. This place is impossible to find but nearby where it should have been is Kapital and, thanks to a friends coupon, entrance was free. At about 5:30a the diversion had served its purpose and sleep had been successfully avoided. A half hour up at La Alhambra waiting in the freezing cold to buy a ticket and they finally opened at 8:30a. 

Sala de la Justicia, Los Reyes (Hall of Justice AKA Hall of the Kings)











After 1 1/2 hours of barreling through snapping pictures enough was enough, it was siesta time. Back at the flat some friends came over and everyone waited for Elise... who after 20 minutes had to call because the buzzer box was ripped out and nobody could hear her yelling to be let in. After hanging out for a while everyone left and the packing process began... tomorrow: Germany.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mirador of St. Nicolas

12/14/2010
Hiding from performers
Random group on Segways
Today I met up with some of the others and took a walk to the Mirador of St. Nicolas, one of the great views in Granada. The Mirador is also a popular place for novice street performers as are a lot of places in Granada. Some may find this entertaining but if not it's probably not a good idea to humor them - street performers expect something for their efforts so don't watch the show if you don't want to pay for it. After the sun went down we went to town to get Churros and a couple of the guys bought Cuban cigars. 
Sunset from Mirador

12/16/2010


Today some of us went to a Futbol Chocolateria to eat churros and a Spanish Tortilla while studying for finals. After finishing classes a few postcards, as suggested by travel guru Rick Steves, were a simple way to share something from home with the instructors.
Chocolate sauce toast
All Photos

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gibraltar

12/10/2010


Today I got on a bus and went to Gibraltar in order to get a couple days out of the Schengen area. When I arrived I bought a shwarma, bought my return ticket, and headed for the border. After dropping off some stuff at my hostel I went out exploring. At the Mackintosh Culture Center I met a guy who's family moved to Boston for a generation and then back to Gibraltar for some reason. After that I met some locals and we all went to a club called “The Rock on the Rock” where they play, you guessed it, rock.
People in Gibraltar are really friendly, a guy named Alexis bought me a couple drinks because I didn't have any British pounds on me. Out on the street one of the locals let me ride his £3000 motorbike. One of the guys offered to show me around the town real quick on it and I didn't think twice. Three things I neglected to find out beforehand 1) if he was sober 2) if he could drive 3) who he was. Turns out he was sober but as it turns out he's a street bike racer. He took me flying through the narrow streets at 75 kph, everything was a blur... would have been nice to know he wasn't just on a suicide mission. After the bike ride from hell, we all headed for a club, but I didn't still didn't have any money. No problem though, the biker kid knew the bouncer and got us in for free.
12/11/2010
Today I woke up and went to Alexis' house from the night before. Alexis took me to the top of the rock on his motorbike and showed me all the best views as well as the Barbary Macaque Monkeys. 

After playing with the monkeys a bit it started getting dark so we went back down to the border so I could exchange some euros for British Pounds. On the way we stopped to look at some cannons. 

Gibraltar is famous for the Straits of Gibraltar; the British used the ten and one hundred pound guns to control the sea lanes in and out of the Mediterranean. After I got some money we went to the Star Bar (recommended by Rick Steves) and I had and English breakfast which is a lot of food for only £5. Afterward I bought some tax free stuff at Safeway and we headed to the beach for a bit. Later I finally found free Wifi at a bar called Fresh right outside Castlemates Square.



12/12/2010
Today I missed my bus back to Granada… 20 euro down the drain. I had to catch a bus to Algeciras for 2.50 followed by a bus to Granada for another 22 euro. 

THE ROCK POI:


-People only really go out Friday nights.
-American stores (Safeway, Shell, etc.)
-They call themselves Gibs.
-Mix of people (English, Gibs, Spanish.)
-Apparently it's legal to drink up to two pints and still drive.
-It’s windy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Exploring Granada

12/01/2010
Today I had to pay rent but I didn't have the money because of the whole visa thing. I had a unpleasant conversation with the manager and ended up paying half of the rent with the promise that I would pay the rest later in the week... you would think she would be more understanding considering that she's the one holding all the cards here.
12/02/2010
Botellón: a social activity among Spain’s youth, who gather in public areas to consume alcohol as an alternative to going to a bar or club. Tonight I finally went to a Botellon to see what all the fuss is about. After arriving I looked for some friends I was meeting but, alas, I do not have a cell phone. No matter, this just made it easier (gave me a reason) to meet some Spaniards. After catching a ride with my new friends back to the Albaicin a couple of us went for Schwarmas and talked about xenophobia in Spain which apparently makes it difficult to meet Spaniards. 
12/03/2010
Tonight I finally went to El Camborio, a place where all the foreign students go, but I haven’t had the chance to go until now. Tom and I met up at Plaza Nueva and went @ 11:30p. It was still to early, so we went for a couple drinks until 12:30a. We still had the place basically to ourselves but at least it was finally open. Things got busier around 1:30a.
12/04/2010

Today I woke up really late and my leg was really stiff. Turns out it is completely swollen, probably from last night. Elise invited me and Andrew to go walk around the woods up in her area for a bit and have dinner at her host family's. It turns out Elise lives with the best view in Granada. She can just walk down the street into a forrest overlooking all of Granada and the Alhambra. 
We did some hiking around and climbed up a wall we dubbed “the great wall of Granada.”
Andrew fell off while climbing, but I caught him so fortunately wasn't seriously injured. At the top we received a privileged view of Granada as the sun set.

After getting back to Elise’s we played some cards and met her host parents. Later in the night she fed us some chicken, pasta with veal, and other tasty stuff.
Jamon


12/05/2010
Today I posted on Easy Piso and Loquo while emailing people the link to my listing. I got several hits within an hour or so and by evening I had successfully sold the piso to a Japanese girl. She will be paying for the last week of December and for the 225 euro deposit. Later I went out with Elise and Raphael and we met up with some of his friends at a club called BoogaClub where we listened to some interesting Jazz and had a couple drinks. 
Raphael writing "I am a stallion" in German for me. Background: Christmas in Granada.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sierra Nevadas

11/27/2010

Today I went to the Sierra Nevadas in Spain (there’s also a range called the Sierra Nevadas in California). I got up at 8:30a and met up with Paige to take the city bus to the bus station. We almost missed the bus to Sierra Nevada, and then they almost didn't let us on because they were low on space, but in the end we made it. 
When we arrived we made our way through the town using switchbacks and I haggled with a Moroccan dude for some gloves that I didn’t really want but was glad I got. The gloves really were a good idea and considering I was able to talk him down from 20 euro to about 3.50 in random change, such a bargain! Eventually we hit snow and soon after climbing a huge hillside we ran into a blizzard. At this point I made a scarf out of an extra t-shirt I had in order to protect my face. Soon we arrived at a hotel/bar called El Albergue and took some time to warm up (Paige was pretty much getting frostbite in her feet from hiking in a pair of converse…) then we headed for the top. 

As we rose the clouds poured out of the valley below us revealing the town and mountains that had been obscured for the whole time since we had arrived. After we hiked back down we took the bus back to Granada where Andrew had everybody over for beer pong.



video

Friday, November 26, 2010

Civilizacion y Cultura de Espana


11/23/2010

Today after class Tom and Brian came over to make Tortillas Espanoles (Spanish Tortillas). We had a few drinks and went to Totes for intercambio (exchange Spanish & English lessons) where we received tickets for free drinks and salsa lessons at a place called Chicago.
11/25/2010

Today Andrew and I  presented on Asturias and drank Sidra in class; I still can’t get over the fact that they allowed alcohol in class. Afterward I decided to celebrate my Thanksgiving at the bar… after a tapa I decided to head down to Totes for intercambio where I found they had turkey tapas, this made my day.
Sustainability
11/26/2010

Today I got up early and went to the Culture Museum of Andalucia with my culture class. After a few hours of starvation I went to the casino at Neptuno with Elise and Andrew. Using Andrews wonderful, amazing, fool proof roulette technique I lost 40 euros… According to the math you will always at least break even, if you bet long enough and double it every 7 turns. After a few rounds of losing I couldn't go on, so I took the damage and quit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Córdoba

11/19/2010

Today I got up and went to Cordoba where I met up with Lidia and her dad. We went to their home and had a tasty meal of papas fritas (french fries), pollo (chicken), y huevo (egg). After lunch I went to school with Lidia and watched her give a presentation in English for her class. Later we went to the albergue (hostel) and after dinner we all sang some songs.
11/20/2010

Today after breakfast we all played basketball and met for bible study.

video
11/21/2010

Today we had breakfast, sang some songs and started saying goodbyes.

We stopped for some sweets on the way to the Cordoba Mosque. It was closed, but fortunately a guard had a door open and allowed me to take some pictures inside.

Next we headed back and I caught a ride to the Estacion de Autobuses with Pedro and his wife. I was almost late so I couldn’t stop to use the bathroom. This proved to be something of a predicament as I was in horrible pain for the 2 1/2 hour bus ride back to Granada.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Cathedrals and a Quarter


11/08/2010


Today I finally went to get some pants as well as some shirts, rock climbing shoes, bananas, and a toaster. I noticed the second example of false advertising today since I’ve arrived in Europe, seems small businesses here take liberties with more than just customer service. In France I wanted a combo advertised outside on the window and they just looked at me funny and tried to sell me something less impressive for twice as much. Today when I bought the toaster it was advertised for 9 euro outside but when I entered the advertised price jumped to 10.90 (before tax)… I guess that’s just their way of getting you in the door.  Also, I recently found out that since I don’t have a Shengen visa I’m basically here illegally… more surprises.

11/09/2010

Today after class some of us 45 hour students went to a cathedral called Nuestra Senora De Las Angustias (Our Lady of Sorrows). Later I tried to fix myself an earlier flight out… unfortunately I didn’t account for the 31 day month so now I’m out $265 and still illegal.

11/12/2010
Today the water in the shower turned cold while I was shampooing. I got out into the freezing air and went to find that the gas can was empty. I didn’t know how to replace it, but luckily Fee came out to see what I was doing. After replacing the gas I finished my shower and finished getting ready for class… great start to my birthday. In Spanish class I brought cake for everyone going along with the custom here of giving gifts to everyone else on YOUR birthday… After class I called the border police in Germany to find out about my Schengen situation and apparently this whole time I could have just extended it (instead of spending $265 and losing 2 days in Germany). Later I showed a guy around the flat and he pretty much decided to take over my contract when I leave in December. At about 9:30p I went to POE for some drinks with Andres and his soon-to-be fiance Erica.
11/13/2010
Today I went to Capilla Real and Granada Cathedral. The cathedral was very big, semi-renaissance and bright white. Afterward I went home, took a siesta and went back out for the tour of the Albayzin quarter.
11/15/2010

Today I met up with Brian to go to Mercadona for some drinks for my birthday hangout tonight. While out and about we we got some really good doughnuts and ran into Farah and Julia. Some of us went for tea and stopped for Schwarmas at a new place. They brought us some small tapas after which I asked for the bill, but was surprised to find that the tapas were only an introduction to the Schwarmas which were actually pretty fairly sized. I guess you can't be too quick to assume things about a new place!

11/18/2010
After class today I went on a tour of the forest of the Alhambra. The guide spoke really fast Spanish and it was cold… interesting fact about the trees though - they produce poisonous needles that have the ability to cure cancer, how about that!














Saturday, November 6, 2010

La Ronda




11/06/2010

Today I caught the bus to Ronda with Tom, Elise and Andrew where we saw Plaza de Toros (bullring), explored around Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), ate some good food and caught the bus back to Granada. Later, while making “bangers and mash,” I caught the sausages on fire while cooking them in oil. Apparently oil is flammable, who knew?? The flame was probably over a foot high… food still turned out great though!




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween in Granada


10/31/2010

Today for Halloween I went out as a Zombie and/or Heath Ledger. Either way, people were plenty creeped out. Fee and I went to get the others and we all went to a club. We saw some interesting costumes and at about 6a we left and I got a Schwarma.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monachil


10/30/2010
Today I got up at 7a to go hiking in Monachil with Elise and Andreas. After we arrived we began following a route that Andreas found online. We found a huge valley with a bridge and a strange brick structure with the goofy graffiti commonly found Granada. After climbing around in the hills for a few hours we headed back through an orchard and into town in time to catch the bus back to Grandada.




























Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jaén


10/15/2010
Today I woke up at 5p… I spent some time at the computer lab at the Huerta de las Angeles building and later went out to Sacromonte to check out El Camborio. On the way I ran into Thomas who showed me a little bar/cave where they were having live flamenco performances. I really enjoyed the music, the performance in general was pretty vibrant.
10/16/2010
Today I woke up late again and relaxed until around 9p then went to Thomas’ party which was actually pretty intense… at one point the police even showed up and kicked everyone out.
10/21/2010
Today we finally got internet in our apartment! I went with Paige to Hipercor and got lost on the way back. I ended up a bit out out in the middle of nowhere, but was able to get directions to the Albycin area and made my way back to my neighborhood, Realejo. Looking back it's actually pretty crazy how far out I walked, would have been a nightmare for someone who doesn't speak Spanish.

10/24/2010
Today Paige and I went to Jaen and walked around looking at many sites, including the Jaen Cathedral - a Spanish Renaissance cathedral constructed over 230 years and completed in 1802.
At 6p we returned for the potluck Fee and I were hosting at the piso. We ate burritos, Spanish Tortillas, Gazpacho, etc. Later we went with Fee’s friend Anna to some tapas bars and an ice cream parlor.