Saturday, September 18, 2010

I believe I can Tapas!

Well, Eric and Chris B. are all working on their VL/HCC presentations, and since I have no finished mine, I will procrastinate and blog about our trip! Bear with me through the first part. There are lots of words

This is the first full day that Chris B. has been with us and he is already used to our schedule. We are going to catch a bus for Granada and so we wake up… at about a typical time for us. I set the alarm for 10 AM. Unfortunately, Eric and Allison don’t hear it, since we are now in different rooms. At least that is what they told me. So I get up and get ready and in the process wake up Chris B. Then at about 10:30 I knock on Eric and Allison’s door and rouse them from their slumber. We are planning on catching the 1 PM bus, so we figure we have time.

It is really stormy outside and I occasionally see lightning crack out over the Mediterranean Sea. Sadly, my camera is not able to capture it. There are a lot of leftovers from our grocery store excursions and one such thing is a box of sangria, well half a box or so. Since Eric and Allison are busy finishing packing,

Chris B. and I share the rest of Sangria. The best part of waking up, is Sangriaaaaaaaaa in my cup. (No, I am not an alcoholic) We finish off the rest of the box, and about that time Eric and Allison are ready to go.

Sangria: the breakfast of kings and scholars
We also introduce Chris B. to some of the angelfish that we got the day before. He is pretty skeptical of the fact that it is angel fish, since that is kind of an exotic fish. However, he is not skeptical of the great taste.

After we are all packed, we realize that we have some food left over and we decide that we should try to pack some of it so that we can take it with us. We pack some of the more saveable things such as peanuts and crackers, but have to trash a lot of it. Our trash can is a little fuller than we would like.

And soon we are on our way, headed to the bus station, which is right next to the train station. It is a pretty easy walk, and we have discovered that the blog was useful. After seeing how we were packed and that we all had backpacks, Chris B. has decided that he should not bring his wheelly luggage since that would not be good going over the cobblestone and he wanted to be able to keep up with us. I am not sure that we are really super fast and he is packed way lighter than the rest of us, so I tend to think that he would have been able to keep up with us really easily.

Eric thought that Chris B. was a super super light packer and that he was only going to be wearing his satchel and nothing else. I am not sure if Eric is disappointed that Chris B. has more luggage or not. I will ask him. His response: “I am. Very disappointed.” So there you go.

Like I said, the walk was pretty easy, the train/bus station was about 15 minutes away and it was threatening to rain, which worried me slightly, but I figured it would be ok. We saw a couple of interesting things. The first was a sex shop for hamburgers, which Eric has been interested in every time that we passed it.

The second thing was another game store. Eric took the opportunity to go ask about Nestor games again. This guy was much less friendly than the girl in Sevilla, and Eric informed us that it seemed like the guy felt Eric was just wasting his time.

The final thing, that I was probably the only I found interesting, was the fact that the newspaper stand also sold porn magazines. Although, not Playboy… maybe Spainish Playboy, I didn’t check. Anyway, I just was surprised that they blatantly sold it on the street like that. I won’t post the picture since it is probably not suitable for this blog.

So as we were about 50 feet from the train station when it starts to rain, so we hustle inside and then we head to the bus station, which is connected to the train station. Unfortunately for us, we have to walk outside again to get there and it is kind of pouring, which means that we get to walk through the rain. It is weird it seems like the people of Granada do not like the rain as they are huddled in doorways waiting for it to stop. Perhaps they are just smarter than us and realize it will end soon.

We get to the bus station and attempt to buy tickets. Sadly, the tickets for the 1 o’clock bus is sold out, which means that we will need to get tickets for the 2 PM bus. So, after a few problems with the machine (it got stuck on the step where we pay, and sort of froze the machine, we purchase tickets and then we need to decided what to do for an extra hour. We walk around the bus station and then, finding nowhere to sit, we head back to the train station, which is also a mall. Actually, it is more of a mall than a train station. It even has a Spanish coast guard recruitment center. The outfits are pretty spiffy. If I spoke Spanish and liked boats as much as Eric I might join.

Chris B. wants coffe, and after walking around the… Train Mall Station, we find a haagen Daz… that is spelled wrong, but I am sure that you all know what I mean…ice cream stand that also serves coffee. Eric gets a Crepe cone.

Chris B get a coffee and Allison gets an ice cream cone. Now we only need someplace to sit. As I already mentioned this is more like a mall, so there is hardly any seating since they want you to just keep walking and seeing new stores. We find some chairs that we think are free, but after sitting down for a 24 seconds the waitress comes up and tells us that it is only for the restaurant… that is really not that close. So we move, to the seats at McDonalds. We figure we are safe there since it is a McDonalds, who will really care. Well… care they did!

Chris B. and Allison get up to buy some Kebabs and Eric and I guard some stuff. Just as Eric is about to eat the most sensitive part of the crepe cone, the manager comes over and yells “Solo para McDonalds!” (Only for McDonalds) Eric, startled, drops his crepe cone in his lap. He is able to save it, but he is still embarrassed. We then have to decide what to do. I decide that I will simply buy some things from the Euro menu and eat them reallllly slowly. In truth Eric would have been the better candidate for this job, since he always eats slowly, but too late, off I go. I get a cheeseburger and small fries, and I do my best to eat them slow. I do a fairly respectable job.

Soon it is time to go, so we load up and head back to the bus station. We find our bus on the terminal and see that it will be loading at “gate” 23. We walk out there and stand with the mob of people. No bus arrives at 23, but one arrives at 24. And it says it is going to Granada…. So…. I guess that is ours. People rush to load their stuff onto it, which I will still never understand. We wait around and then load our stuff. Then another bus pulls up to the stop, it is also going to Granada… and it says it is Bus no. 1, which is the bus our ticket says we are supposed to be on. So after some confusion we switch our stuff, and tentatively get on. Luckily it is the right bus.

Oh, I need to mention that Chris B. knows Spanish much better than us, so he is already our translator, which displaces me as the person who knew the most Spanish. Lol… not that I really knew a lot, but … more than the walkies.

So the bus ride isn’t bad, it is about 2 hours and as we get on it starts to rain.

View from my seat:

The bus drivers window is pretty foggy and I contemplate how he can possible see. … Chris B. suggests that he knows the way by heart, so he doesn’t even need to see.

We arrive in Granada around… 4 and it is absolutely pouring. This is a rain that we haven’t seen while we have been in Spain. What happened? We aren’t in the plains!!!!

So we huddle in the entrance to the bus station and then we decide to just rush out and get a taxi. So we rush out in the rain and head for the minivan taxi since we figure that we will all fit in that. She declines and points us to the taxi in front of her. I think she just didn’t want to get out in the rain and deal with our luggage.

Eric looks apprehensive about the taxi.

Our driver is…. A bit quiet. But he seems a competent enough fellow. It is interesting watching the money slowly tick up as we drive. It takes about 10 minutes to get there, and it poured the whole way. We even saw standing water in the streets, which was just a little crazy.

We pull up to the hotel and unload and get our room. It is a quaint sparse room, which four beds. It says that the occupancy is… 3?? So I guess one of the beds is just for show? NOT IT!

After resting a little and checking that the internet works… but failing to check on my laptop :-/… we head out to explore the city of Granada. We just sort of meander around since we don’t have anything that we are too keen to see. The main interest is the Alhambra, which Allison has purchased tickets for tomorrow. So we roam around. Just after we start walking, it starts to pour again, but we power through. Eric and Allison both have raincoats and Chris B. has a hoody. I managed to forget my hat… which means I get a little wet. But that is ok, certainly not the first time that has happened.

Here is us walking:

We first walk around the commercial district, where Eric buys himself an ear of roasted corn. Chris B. does not like corn.

I have no idea what I am doing…. But it must be funny, everyone is laughing.
Notice how soaked we are:

We keep walking around and find a couple of things of interest, that I will most let the pictures do the talking.

This is a door with a cool knocker.

I think Spain is a little behind the times… didn’t they break up in the 80’s?

We found this little park that had … fake exercise equipment…. Basically exercise equipment with no weights or force, so it is just like… preparing kids to like exercising in a gym? This was actually a really cool little park and and it had a huge trough and lots of “exercise stuff” and then some nice trees. Pretty cool place for a very residential part of Spain.

We also found a couple of cloisters. Here Eric explains to Chris B. how the cloister they are going to build in their house is going to work and how much Gort and Klatuu will enjoy it.

These is a lot of Arabic writing on buildings and all over. Here is one example that was over a doorway.

The walkies and Chris B. stopped to buy some magnets. I looked around the store… I found some very interesting little figurines…. :-/… I am sure there is some other meaning for them… but… still, maybe a little much?

We found another wedding at this little church…. Luckily, no fireworks this time :)

There is the canal that goes under the city. There is nowhere on the map that it says it comes out… so maybe it just stays underground forever, or maybe it goes and dies out… we discuss what it would be like to go spelunking in the tunnel.

We found a huge number of stray cats just hanging out in the canal. They seem pretty happy, and it seems like lots of people toss them food. It is very weird to see a pack of cats in the middle of a large city.

At the end of the road we find a great viewpoint of the Alhambra. Here is the walkies and Chris B. in front of the Alhambra.

Here is a closer shot of the Alhambra.
Finally, our journey would never be complete without a panorama jama whenever time permits. Here are the results of the panorama of the Alhambra.
We reach the end of the road and have to decide to turn back or head up the hill and explore a little more. We decide on the exploring option. We head up the hill and find a sign talking about the sacremount, which is supposedly a bunch of caves set in the hills, which sounds interesting to me… so we walk up to a viewpoint… I don’t see anything that looks like cool caves… and I am pretty disappointed. There are a few caves set in the hills, but mostly nothing exciting, so we head back down the narrow winding road. We then head up and through the arab district, which is pretty interesting. Here is a picture of the group walking ahead which shows a little of the district and what the streets look like.

We are growing hungry and so we start to look for a place to eat. We settle on a little Italian place and Eric and I share a pizza while Chris B and Allison both get pasta. Chris B. gets his inaugural food picture taken.

After we finish, we decide that we are going to try tapas again tonight. I know that we haven’t been successful anytime that we have tried it, but we hope this will be different since now we have someone that actually sort of speaks Spanish.

We pass a few places advertising tapas and we look in and Chris B. has the same problem that Eric and I have had. We just aren’t confident enough about going up to the bar and worried that it will be weird. So we head back to the hotel to check out the guide books and see if they recommend places. They just recommend some regions. We also notice that the hotel that we are staying in has a little bar of the fifth floor so we decide to try that. We head up and as we are walking to it, this guy sitting at the bar is just… staring at us… very intently. We panic and scatter, Eric and I start to head down the stairs, and Allison and Chris B, go back. The guy bursts out of the bar and tells us that the elevator is that way and points backwards… like we didn’t know where the elevator was… :-/… we are scared of him, so we say, ok and leave.

It is a very inauspicious start to our tapas night…. Undeterred we head out and go to the regions the book suggested. After a while we find a place that is to our liking and we order a beer… actually beer and tapas… but same thing. And we get tapas! Pretty meager at first, but pretty great really, it actually worked!!!!

Another round! New tapas!!! OMG, it is working. By the time we got to the fourth round we didn’t care what we got, we were just so amazed that it was actually working that we thought everything was awesome. The beers were not incredibly large, but still enough to have us feel them. Eric and I got one more round (round number 5).

Round 1:
Round 2:

Round 5:

Eric is ecstatic that we got free tapas, and it is pretty great. It was also way easier than it will be in Madrid, so I guess we need the practice. We head back to the hotel, where we decide to have one final nightcap in the fifth floor bar at the hotel. I am worried that the guy might still be there, but Eric is emboldened with beer and free tapas and he leads the way and we barge in, luckily he is not there or I am not sure what would have happened. The place it actually pretty cool… well it is an open air bar, so technically it is cold. We get a beer as well as a mix of peanuts and gummi candy and toast our wildly successful tapas adventures.

Night Cap:
In honor of our magically night we made up a few tapas songs:

1) I Believe I can Tapas: (I believe I can fly)
I believe I can Tapas!
I believe I can Tapas so highhhh
I dream about it every night and day
Spread my lips and eat away...

2) Tapas Rolls (Tight Pants)
Watch for my Tapas Rolls
Watch out for my Tapas Rolls
Side Dish Side Dish
This is how we do it

Friday, September 17, 2010

And then we were four

Sigh... well I am sitting in the hallway yet again composing this. However, this time I even have to go down a level. Interestingly, all the mac computers manage to pick the internet just fine, but mine, being a windows, seems to have difficulty. So that is a little annoying. I suppose there is nothing that can be done about it other than sit in the hallway.

phew... ok.. this is going to be an interesting blog. I can't spoil anything, but we may have gotten slightly out of hand with the cervesas tonight. (Friday Night) But it was a friday... so... that is what you are supposed to do right? I actually had some people walk by me in the hallway. That was an entirely new experience. Normally, there is no one in the hallways at this time.

Ok... So Thursday dawned bright and early and we managed to roll out of bed at around.. oh.. 11:30 or so. I had turned my AC off for the night, so my room was on the too warm side, the walkies and left theirs on...

This was an entirely new concept for us... Different rooms.. different AC units... how did we manage. Well it was strange. Like I knew that Eric was reading and Allison was sleeping, but there was a wall between us, so... maybe something else was happening. Like Eric was sleep..... oh wait, Eric doesn't sleep. (much) Maybe Eric was playing the computer and Allison was playing her DS. I JUST DON"T KNOW! I have never had separation anxiety when the people I am separated from are just a room away, but I have been with them for so long in the same room, it just felt weird to be in my own room.

So anyway.. enough about me feeling weird. We woke up and got ready and ate some fruit and we headed out. Our plan was to hit the ... Alcazaba... very related to Alcazar, onlymore wizardy, and then go to the beach in the afternoon.

This was the day that we had planned to go to Granada, and I was actually really disappointed that we weren't going. I tried to swallow my pain a little bit and just have fun, but I really would have liked to go. However, it was a 3 hour bus ride there and a 3 hour bus ride back. So I suppose that it basically would have been half a day on the bus. I still kind of wish I had gone, since I don't know when I will actually be back here.

Also, despite the walk that every day we have been in Spain has been nice and sunny and beautiful weather, today, our one primary beach day, it is cloudy. lol... oh well, at least it is kind of warm. It will be more like Oregon weather I guess. I looked up the weather and all of the country seems rain. Eric informs me that: "The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains". In fact everytime I mention the rain, that is my response. I guess I am not sure why, but I stop mentioning the rain, perhaps that is what he was shooting for.

lol... ok, so... as I have tried to start many times, we start walking to the Alcazaba, and Eric does a very good job navigating us and we pop out right by the entrance. There is also a Roman Theater by the Alcazaba Entrance, so we decide to check that out first.

A rare Allison & Chris photo by the wall of the Alcazaba:
Eric and I pretending that we are watching a play. I imagine it is called: los tres gatos. And it is about 3 cats and their journeys. Sort of like Homeward Bound, only with 3 cats, and the journey is more exciting since they have.... uh... swords and bandoliers. yeah thats the ticket! Cats with Swords!

lol... in actuality, I really do wonder what they played here, probably typical Roman plays.

So we go to buy our tickets, and we realize that we need to get change before we can actually buy it since they don't accept cards. So we have to go trekking back to find an ATM. We finally find one and then I try to get a 50 euro bull changed, but they won't do it, so we have to buy something. We choose to buy ice cream, on the coldest day that we are in Spain... I think it may be backwards day or something.

We finally get in and it is pretty cool. The first part that we explore is the main wall and the passageways around it. Here is Eric and I in a doorway.
There are also a lot of little battlements and places that you can stand and look out over the city. Eric keeps talking about fighting orcs off the walls.... Sometimes I think he is too involved in Lord of the Rings.

Here is Eric on the walls:

We are then presented with a path, either explore the gardens or head up to the wall. We decide to explore the gardens. They are pretty cool. A lot of little plazas and great views. There are also some strange things like a weird video about the construction of a weird baby sculpture (that looks realllllllly creepy) and a lot of old pottery.

Here is Allison posing ... uh... longingly? Sadly Chubby Spiderman is not there to help her out.

Lets see what it would look like with chubby spiderman!
Hmm... looks ok? :)

Anyway, we keep exploring the garden and found a lot of little places that were kind of fun.

Eric told me I looked very photogenic in this picture.... I think he was being sarcastic. But I don't think I look bad, So I will include it.

We finally make it to the end of the wall... and we realize that we can't get to the rest of the fortress which is at the top of the hill. We are going to have to go allllll the way back down and then climb alllll the way back up. I contemplate what it would be like to just jump down from the wall since we are so close to where we need to be, but it is like a ... 15 foot fall, so I figure I better not... What I wouldn't give for one of those rope ladders batman stores in his utility belt.

We did manage to get a group phot0 taken at the end of the wall though.. Pretty good looking bunch there. You may notice that I have my swim trunks on. I am hoping it clears up so we can so lay in the sun and swim. (despite the fact that we still have no beach towels... or any towels for that matter :p) When we discover that we have to go all the way back down and then all the way back up, Eric and I both simultaneously say... "well time for the long trek" or something similar. Eric thinks we have been together too long.

So we head back down and then we climb back up and we are soon climbing up the hill... up and up and up. Well... maybe only up and up. Along the way, we stop at a look out point and check out the bull ring and the view.

This may be the only picture I get with a bull ring. I was the only one interested in the bull fighting stuff... so... we didn't do any of it. Probably for the best. I was only interested because the costumes are funny.

The bull ring by itself:

We finally get to the top and we get inside the rest of the Alcazaba.. well I guess it has a different name. Castillo De Gibralfrago? I always mess that up and I am not going to check now.... It is pretty much just a castle on top of the hill, they also have a museum.

I get my picture taken with Captain Muttonchops. He looked great!

Eric in front of a cool model of a boat. He really likes boats... well maybe just boat art. Do models count as art?
We walk around the castle and we see the object in the distance that Eric and I have been obsessing over for most of the trip in Malaga. We think that it is a rocket. But we can't really tell. And now we have access to a telescope. Sadly it was one euro. You would think that our curiosity might be enough to pay one euro to find out. But we are cheap.

So I pouted:

Eric took a picture of the rocket/whatever it is. If you figure it out... I guess tell us? It is kind of fun thinking it is a rocket, but I suppose knowing the truth might be nice.

A few more pictures of us on the walls of the Castillo:

They had these funny little round buildings that I couldnt figure out what they were for. Eric told me they were outhouses... that seems... not true to me.

They also had a cool cannon... I pretended to fire it. Although, I am wearing a backpack... so... it probably was not as cool a photo as I thought it might be.

After checking out the castillo, we head to this little stand nearby that was advertising cheap beer. Eric and I both get a mediano and we sit down to drink it. Since we haven't eaten in a while... it goes straight to our heads... so the walk down is fun. We debate...something, I can't even remember it at the moment... But soon we were at the bottom and headed to the beach.

We decide to have lunch at the beach at this little cafe. Eric gets Cuttlefish kebobs and Allison and I get hamburgers.. which... in spain mean sausage patties on a plate.... so that was fun. Cuttlefish, according to Eric tastes like clams and has the texture or... squid? or something.

Eric and his food:

We had these cool neighbors that were british and they randomly talked to us... maybe because we were speaking english. This is a picture of one of them, as well as the beach umbrellas.

This is some of the beach.

It wasn't very sunny, but Eric and I swam for a while anyway, then we saw a small fish jump out of the water, and it had a fin... so we were like.. Shark! and went in. Allison didn't want to leave, she wanted to sleep on the sand some more. So Eric and I walked down the beach and tossed rocks/skipped stones and chatted about the mysteries of life and lots of philosophical stuff.... ;)

The night was pretty mellow. Chris Bogart arrived, fresh from his 30 hour travel, and we welcomed him in. He speaks much better Spanish than us, so it is nice to have an actual translator.... although in some ways less fun. I really thought our broken spanish was working :)

We headed to bed, ready to get up... earlish to conquer Granada!