Who knew keeping up with blogging would be so stressful?I tried to update last week but was discouraged when half of my blog post got deleted…anyway, I’ll share what I salvaged before speedily continuing.
As you may or may not know, my mom came to visit me for one week during the last week of October. There was a national holiday on a Tuesday and my school gave us Monday off so we took advantage of the long weekend to travel south. My mom arrived mid-week which meant that I still had one day of my internship and half a day of classes to attend. However, this proved not to be a problem because a) she enjoyed the extra down time for sleeping on account of jet lag and b) she is fully capable of navigating her way around the city on her own. After unloading all the goodies she brought for me (sweatpants, long underwear (it’s freezing in my house!), luna bars and enough floss for an entire elementary school for a year), we packed up and left early Friday morning.
First stop: Granada. The views on train ride were beautiful. My mom was especially mesmerized by the pattern made by the rows and rows of olive trees. “Look at those olive trees!” Our taxi driver was super friendly, going on and on about why Granada is 10 times better than Madrid. The Bob Marley CD he popped in was a nice touch. After finding our hostel (very nice owners, very small bed to share), we set out to explore the city. The frozen yogurt beckoned as we pealed off our layers of clothing from the chilly morning air. Our topping of choice? Pomegranate seeds, of course! (Granada means pomegranate in Spanish.) We wound our way through steep, narrow streets to a look out called Mirador San Nicolas Alto.
Madre and I at the lookout with the Alhambra in the background.
We got ourselves most of the way there with a map, but we ultimately lingered in the back of an Italian tour group that we guessed was going to the same place (they were). Lunch, dinner, more strolling and admiring the quaint city.
We woke up super early Saturday morning to stand in line for tickets to the Alhambra. Turns out there are machines around the back of the gift shop where you can buy tickets with your credit card. And just like that we were out of line and inside the grounds of the Alhambra! The plus side to being awake so early is that we got to see the sunrise over the city. There are not enough words to describe the place - everything was unbelievably beautiful.
After about five hours of exploring the grounds, we left to go find the caves. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but we were feeling adventurous. Turns out the caves are mostly residences or restaurants with flamenco shows. We did, however, walk far enough on a back country road to see snow on top of the Sierra Nevadas! On our way back into town we stopped by the cave museum, which featured caves set up as they would have been many years ago. As it was our last night in Granada, we obviously had to get some of that delicious frozen yogurt again. But my mom also wanted to try the typical Spanish churros with chocolate. What’s a girl to do? Eat both, of course!
(And now I’m transitioning into highlight mode, sorry.)
Next stop: Sevilla. On Sunday we visited the Royal Alcazar. Not as well known as the Alhambra, but I’d say equally as breathtaking. Those royals really knew how to enjoy themselves. We had lunch and walked around in the barrio of Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter. Then we headed over to Plaza de España. Very beautiful, tons of people, little plaques for every city in Spain. On our way back we stumbled up an international festival with food and gifts from all over the world. (My banana and chocolate crepe from the France pavilion was amazing, in case you were wondering.)
On Sunday, we took a tour of the bull ring. It’s true that I didn’t really enjoy myself at the last bull-related event I went to, but this was different. We took a quick tour of the ring and were then guided through the museum. The history and pride behind bullfighting is interesting, and my mom got a chance to see something truly Spanish. After the tour we walked along the Gualdalquivir River.
We saw the Tower of Gold on our way to the Old Tobacco Factory. Now the site of the University of Sevilla, we grabbed a cheap and surprisingly yummy lunch in the student cafeteria. After a little shopping it was time to catch our train back to Madrid…
…only to wake up the next morning and take a quick bus ride to Toledo. I was happy to be able to go with my mom because I had missed my program’s trip to the city a few weeks earlier. (Prague just gets in the way sometimes, you know how it is.) In half a day we managed to see two synagogues and a museum. First up, the Santa María La Blanca Synagogue. (The oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe.)
Santa María La Blanca Synagogue
Next, we visited the Sephardic Museum and the Synagogue Transito. Lastly, we visited the Greco Museum. I didn’t know much about the painted before hand, but now his work and works influenced by him seem to be popping up everywhere. Unfortunately we had to rush home so that I could register for classes for next semester and send in a paper for one of my classes here.
All in all, it was so great to see my mom. It was also nice that she got to meet my host family. They got along really well despite the fact that there wasn’t really a common language. She got to eat Evelio’s amazing cooking and see first hand that I am well cared for here. It was definitely sad saying goodbye, but I was grateful for her visit. It was also easier knowing that I would be returning to the airport in about 6 weeks to pick up my older brother, Michael. (We’re traveling for two weeks at the end of December!)
Back in Madrid (In front of Puerta de Alcalá)
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