Like any year abroad student, I plan to do a lot of travelling over the next few months. I’ve already been to Malaga and popped over to Almeria, though having recently stuck a postcard on my wardrobe door which has a map of Andalusia, I can’t wait to visit other famous cities throughout this region.
I thought this post should be on Granada itself. I’ve now been a habitant of this city for a good three weeks and I’ve already fallen in love with it. When I was in Motril, everyone spoke of Granada as if it was something beautiful; they spoke about Granada with a smile, almost in awe of it. I could really exaggerate and say that I could almost detect a slight twinkle in their eyes…
Thing is though, amigos, I’m not exaggerating. Granada is amazing. I’m wondering why I didn’t live here before. The authentic streets, the Albayzín, (which is the old, more traditional part of the city), the Arab tea shops, the clothes shops, the tapas bars, its’ magnificent cathedral, the Christmas markets which have just started up…it has everything. The Sierra Nevada, whose mountain tops are already covered in snow, majestically overlooks both the traditional and more urbanized part of the city. Having lived in what I shall call a ‘dormant’ town for six weeks, where nothing really goes on, it’s a bit of a contrast, and it only makes me appreciate where I now am even more.
All of this obviously sounds amazing. I’m going to be realistic, though. It is only now do I fully realise and only now how I’m prepared to admit that my year abroad here got off to a slow start. I was reluctant to live in Motril because I thought I had to – it is where I work, I had perfected my Spanish loads during my first couple of weeks there, but that’s about as far as it ever went. I guess it was hard for me to admit that, at the time in Motril, I wasn’t really enjoying myself.
Being a bit isolated in a strange new town isn’t always what you expect at the start of your year abroad; the year that everyone hypes up and talks about so much. Sometimes I almost feel that there’s a pressure to make sure you’re constantly enjoying it.
I’ve already dipped in and out of a few ‘year abroad’ blogs where I’ve read that this isn’t always the case.
Now that I’m in Granada, I’ve finally found my feet. I have longed to find the equivalent of this expression in Spanish, because I have always offered a literal translation in conversation and upon doing so, I receive an odd look. I have even joined a gym here, which is quite classy and modern. Already has a hot Spanish man spotted me in the gym and has offered his services in helping me to achieve the perfect Spanish squat. To gain access at the gym, you use a fingerprint scanner, but mine never seems to work. This might be because a photo of my face isn’t on the system, as the webcam spontaneously broke when the woman was registering me.
I say spontaneously.
So, I’ve decided that I want to do all the touristy stuff there is to do here before hopefully conquering other Andalusian cities, says the bla bla car queen that I now am. (Yes – I’ve still been hitching lifts to and from work and, so far, so good).The great thing about Granada is that it isn’t actually that big – everything is kind of in walking distance. Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to the Hammam al Andalus baths here with a group of girls. How blissful it was. I had my first proper massage with scented oils and we each helped ourselves to mint Arab tea. I shall definitely have to return.
My new flatmates, too, are adorable. Ana and Sofia are both studying the same master’s degree, and are just genuinely lovely people. I’ve been out a few times with them and their master friends, who are equally lovely too. I’ve already made my first British classic for them – toad in the hole, which turned out very successful despite making it in a paella dish.
There was no gravy though. I was tempted to buy Bovril when I saw it in the shop but then realised that although this is similar in colour to gravy, it is absolutely not gravy.
I miss gravy.