This week the school group ventured to southern Spain to visit the province of Andalucia. All 31 of us on a bus all the way from Madrid to Cordoba, then to Seville, and finally, to Granada. By that time I had had enough of no legroom and all that bonding that I opted to stay in Granada and then take the quiet train back to Madrid!
Anyway, I have pictures of cathedrals coming out the ears. Even though I have seen more churches this month than I can even count, they never cease to amaze me every time I walk in one. The minute details on every surface alone is enough to render one speechless. We also saw the Alhambra, which is a medieval castle where the famous Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand once lived. We also went into the chapel, Capilla Real, where they are buried.
In Seville we did a tapas and wine tour. Tapas are little snack-type foods that normally come free at bars when you buy drinks, probably because Spaniards spend the majority of their nights socializing, snacking, and drinking in bars! We had a variety of those and some of the infamous Spanish wine from one of the vineyards we passed in the bus on the way to Andalucia. After tapas we saw a flamenco show, which is steeped in Spanish culture, nothing like what you have probably seen on TV! The talent it takes to do any part of the show – the singing, the guitar playing, stomping, clapping, and finally, the dancing – is amazing. I loved every second of it.
There is a huge Arabic influence in southern Spain because it was once controlled by Muslims and also because of its proximity to Africa. The Arabic tradition in Granada is really interesing, and so we decided to try out an Arabic bath, which consists of this long room with low ceilings and dim lighting. It is decorated in the traditional Arabic style and filled with probably ten shallow pools. Each pool is a different temperature with various oils and scents in it, and you work your way around the room “relieving tensions” by soaking in cold, warm, and hot water. And if that doesn’t relax you, the massage, aromatherapy session, and tea should do it. It was fantastic and by far one of the coolest cultural things I have done since coming to Spain.
Besides the neat Arabic baths, nothing much eventful happened on this trip like in Barcelona. I did, however, manage to slip and fall on the marble floors while touring a mosque. I had made the unfortunate decision of wearing a skirt that day, and ended up flashing an entire crowd of tourists. So the relaxing Arabic bath was pretty necessary by the time I got to the end of the week!
I will be staying in Madrid this weekend, thank goodness, because I need some rest! In two weeks, though, I am off to Paris!