I apologize for how horribly written this is, but I did it last night after I got back on the ship. I have a lot to get down with finals and things now, so that's the only way this entry was getting written.
Nov. 23, 2007
“Is this where they breed those bulls that kick?”
Cadiz y Sevilla, España
I woke up at 7 to watch us pull into port. No one else was out there, so I just went to breakfast. I met up with Kristy and Beth and everyone else followed. The ship was cleared very quickly, and Caitlin, Meghan, and I were ready to leave the ship as soon as it was. We got off the ship as quickly as possible, and darted to the train station to get on the quickest train to Sevilla. We found the train station fairly easily. I think it helped that Meghan and I could ask directions and understand them in Spanish. We got to the station before most of the other SASers did. We got on the first train and there were probably only 15 SASers on the train.
When we got to Sevilla we took a taxi to the Alcazar. We weren’t actually going there yet; we just wanted to get ourselves to that general area. Once we got there we looked around for a hotel. We walked up a street near the Catedral and stopped in the first hotel that we found. The receptionist told us that they were booked because there was a horse show in the city, and we were going to have a very hard time finding a hotel. We kept walking and then found one just down the street. We wanted to get it for 2 nights, but they only had space for one. We changed our plans a bit, and decided to head to Cordoba the next day rather than in two days. After we got ourselves checked into the hotel, we decided to get some lunch. We found a little café near the Catedral and got some lunch. Afterwards we went to the Catedral. The Sevilla Catedral is the 3rd largest in the world and holds the supposed remains of Christopher Columbus. They’re actually likely his sons, but it hasn’t been proven, so they can still claim that they belong to Columbus. The three of us decided to climb up the Giralda, which is the bell tower that is attached to the Catedral from when the Moors were in Andalucía. There were ramps up to the top rather than stairs because they used to take horses up to the top. There were 34. It was quite a hike up to the top, but it was completely worth it. The views of the city were unbelievable.
When we left the Catedral we went to the Alcazar. We got in for free because we’re students. The Alcazar was beautiful. I loved the tilework. I could have wondered around for several more hours than I did. Caitlin was tired of the whole thing, and Meghan had been there before, so they were both ready to leave long before I was. When they finally did drag me out they decided they wanted to take a quick power nap. I believed them when they said it was going to be quick, so I went back with them. After an hour and a half I tried to wake them up, but they refused to move. I tried several more times, but with no success. I wanted to leave and explore a little on my own, but I couldn’t even get them alert enough to tell them that I was leaving, so I ended up staying. After 4 hours I just figured they weren’t getting up and it was getting late anyway, so I gave up and crawled into bed. Just about as soon as I got into bed, they decided it was finally time to wake up, so we got out for dinner around 10. Meghan wanted to find a tapas bar, and was convinced that she remembered where they were from when she was there over the summer, so I followed her on what turned out to be a wild goose chase across the city. We did end up at the hotel that she stayed at over the summer. She wanted us to see it. After that, she was even more convinced she could get us to tapas bars, but she failed. We did end up near the Torre de Oro. I finally got to see it, even though I couldn’t go in because it was closed (as it should be at 10:30 at night). We couldn’t find tapas bars so we ended up going to a little café and then getting ice cream. We went back to the hotel for the night so we could get up for the early train to Cordoba.
Nov. 24, 2007
“If I’m going to be poor and alone with all of my birds, I’d rather not know.”
Sevilla, Cordoba, y Granada, España
We checked out of the hotel and had the receptionist call us a taxi. The taxi driver didn’t reset the meter when we got in, but we didn’t end up noticing until it was much too late. The ride was a lot more expensive than it should have been. We got there and figured out the ticket situation and found our train. When we got to Cordoba, we tried to figure out how we were going to get to Granada that evening. The bus station was across from the train station, so we went over and bought tickets for the 4:30 bus.
We got a taxi to the Mezquita, but it was closed for mass. We decided to get breakfast at a little pastry shop across from the Mezquita and then decided to walk to the Alcazar. It was open yet, either, so we walked off in search of the tourist information center just because I wanted to get a map. We actually walked right past it and didn’t even realize it. We continued walking because we had a lot of time to kill. Eventually we ran into a couple of scary dogs and a potentially crazy man, so we turned around and went back. When we got back we saw the tourist information center was right across from the Alcazar. We got into the Alcazar with a student rate. I enjoyed the building immensely and the gardens were striking as well. I have become a big fan of gardens on this trip. There’s just something relaxing about them. Anyway, we walked through all of the grounds. When we left we decided to take a carriage ride around the city. The tour was entirely in Spanish, but I was able to understand most of it when the driver spoke slow enough.
After the carriage ride, we walked to the Mezquita, but decided to get lunch before we went in. There was a Burger King right across the street, so we went there. The cashier there spoke really good English, and we talked to him for a while, then finally went into the Mezquita. It was a mosque that was later used as a Catedral. It was spectacular. I spent a long time exploring, but Caitlin was getting bored and Meghan had already been there, so I got through it kind of fast. When we left we had several hours before we had to catch our bus to Granada, but we decided to try and switch our tickets to the 3:30 bus and just leave early. It took a combination of mine and Meghan’s Spanish skills to be able to convey that we were trying to switch our ticket time and the man at the ticket booth left once to laugh at us, but we got our tickets changed. There was a candy store in the station, and we all got a little something for our 3 hour drive to Granada. I slept most of the way there.
We decided we were going to try and stay in a cave hotel in Granada because it was the cheapest thing there. We got a taxi and told him where to go. He understood what we wanted, and seemed to know where it was, but didn’t actually. We got dropped off at some random spot on the mountain and couldn’t find the hotel, so we walked down. We stopped in the first hotel on the main street to look for a room. We got ourselves a room for about as cheap as we were going to find in the main city. It was just as cheap for a hostel for 3 people, so we took it. We dropped our bags off and then went to find dinner. We went into a little sports bar and watched the Barcelona soccer game while we ate. I had some sangria and then we went back to the hotel.
Nov. 25, 2007
“How’s the inflamed esophagus?”
We left the hotel kind of early in the morning so we could have a full day to explore the Alhambra. We had a little difficulty finding the bus we needed to get to take us up the mountain. We asked an older man where the bus stop was and he walked us there. There was another man talking to the bus driver in Spanish, and Caitlin wanted to know what they were talking about, so Meghan tried to translate for her. They weren’t talking quietly because there was a language barrier (or so that had assumed). He started talking to Meghan in English though, and they knew that they had assumed wrongly. When we got up to the top of the mountain, we got our tickets with our assigned time to visit the Palacio and had morning tickets to go to the Alcazaba and the Generalife. The Alhambra was amazing. The gardens were lovely and I was very captivated by the tile work and the carvings. Like always, I could have explored all day, but everyone else was ready to leave. We left a little after 1 and caught the bus down the mountain. We got lunch at a little pizza place near Plaza Nueva.
Meghan and Caitlin decided they wanted to go to the train station and get our tickets back to Cadiz and then go back to the hotel to take a nap. I knew what napping meant for them, so I decided that while they did that I was going to explore the city some on my own. There was art museum and a monastery that I wanted to go to, and they were relatively nearby. I navigated myself to both of them, but as it was a Sunday afternoon, they were closed. I wandered onto the Universidad de Granada campus and had a conversation with a few guys for a little while before trying to go to Granada’s Islamic Quarter. One of the guys told me which bus to get on, but I think I misheard him or he was wrong. I got on the bus I thought I heard him say, and then somehow ended up at the top of mountain on the edge of Granada when the bus driver made me get off the bus. I was familiar with this mountain, as we had walked down it the first night. It was a different path than before, but I got down just fine and got myself back to the hotel.
I got my train ticket from Meghan and Caitlin and saw the time we were going to have to leave the next day. There wasn’t going to be any time to go to the crypt of Ferdinand and Isabella and the Granada Catedral. I asked Meghan and Caitlin if they wanted to go, but they didn’t, so I went by myself while they slept. They were still asleep when they got back to the hotel, and I tried to take a little bit of a nap. When we got up we met Kristy, Ashley, and Jason for dinner at the same place we went to for lunch.
Nov. 26, 2007
“I’m not a good fisherman, but I haven’t tried being a lumberjack yet.”
Granada, Dos Hermanas, y Cadiz, España
We decided to just get breakfast at the train station, so Meghan got us on the right bus and to the station. We stopped in a grocery store to get snacks because the trip back to Cadiz was going to take 6-7 hours. While we were waiting for our train, Ashley, Kristy, and Jason showed up. They missed the earliest train out, so they were taking ours. I slept for most of the train ride to Dos Hermanas where we had a layover until the train to Cadiz. There wasn’t a lot to do in Dos Hermanas. It wasn’t even in my Lonely Planet for Andalucía. We found a place that was open for lunch and then went back to the train station. On the train back to Cadiz, Caitlin started talking to a Spanish guy sitting next to us. His English wasn’t very good, but Meghan and I were able to talk to him in Spanish. The conversation was a combined effort on our part, but between the two of us we were able to get our point across. Once we got back to the Cadiz, we went straight back to the ship. I grabbed dinner with Nichole, Beth, and Kristy on the ship because España was so expensive.
Nov. 27, 2007
“We’re naturals at being naturalists.”
Doñana Parque Nacional y Cadiz, España
Nichole spent the night in my room last night because Kelsey and Bo were going to try and force her to go out, even though she wanted to be able to go on the National Park trip in the morning. I got up at 5:30 and got breakfast in the dining room because it opened early for the people on the National Park trip. I slept on the way to the park. I have become very good at using transportation for sleep, because that seems like it is the only place I get sleep sometimes. We took a boat across the river and then got into our vehicle for our trip across the park. We got to see 4 different ecosystems and I saw a bunch of cool birds and some wild boars. The trip was really cool, and I’m glad that I decided to go on it. After we toured the park, we went to the visitor’s center back across the river. After that it was time to head back to Cadiz. I slept the whole way. When we got back to the ship, Nicole and I set out with one goal in mind: to find a grocery store. We wandered around the city. We stopped at Ben and Jerry’s, where we met up with Sarah and Stacey. Nicole split off and the three of us wandered around still looking for a grocery store. I asked for directions and got myself to several different grocery stores, but they were all closed for siesta. There was a little shop open and I got a few things so I could have some snacks while I’m finishing up the last days of classes, and then we got dinner. Sarah and I came back to the ship afterwards. It was really depressing boarding the ship for the last time. I’m still a little in denial that this is coming to an end. I’m not ready to admit to myself that Miami is next and not Panama or Cuba or France. I can’t believe that there are only nine days left.
I promised my Grandma I would put up more pictures before Spain, but when I tried the internet was down, so I'll probably put some more up tomorrow (provided we have functional internet).