12 April 2010

Three Broads Abroad

First we need to flashback to December to start this story. For Christmas I decided to give my mom a plane ticket to come visit me in Spain. So I taped an electronic print out into my city map book and wrapped it. When momma opened it, she couldn't figure out what it was (but of course she faked excitement). I told her to look inside the front cover. She read the print out and couldn't believe. She said, "For me?" Then of course we cried and hugged a lot. That night we decided that it would be really fun if my aunts came with my momma to giver her company. By the end of Christmas day, we had a trip planned for March involving my mom and two aunts in Spain! I've been so excited ever since.

The day finally came when my family was coming to Spain. I imagined a glorious entrance into the airport involving flamenco dancers and a parade, but I couldn't really pull that off. So I went to the airport to retrieve them. Cue first disaster of the trip: Aunt Sally's luggage was lost. Great.

But we tried to keep up our spirits and headed to the hotel. We arrive around 9am and of course our room was not ready so the ladies couldn't get a much needed nap. Cue second annoyance. We decided that mom would come nap in my apartment while I went to class and then my aunts would stick it out until the room was ready. I armed them with a map and general ideas about the area and we parted ways.

After class, I met back up with everyone and we had a wonderful evening with tapas at Mercado de San Miguel, a really pretty, new, posh "market" of sorts. Tapas are typically small snacks that come free with drinks in Spain, but at the market you can buy them separately. So we ate some lovely Spanish cheeses, ham, and empanadas, a meat pastry. After an evening stroll, I headed home because we were leaving for Granada on a bus early in the morning.

We met up near momma's hotel, and then headed to the bus station. Cue third severe annoyance: traffic jams. The bus ride was supposed to be around 5 hours. Nevertheless we were on the bus no less than 8 hours! It was so long. I think we were all contemplating getting out and walking at some point. I couldn't even believe it.

Because the bus was so late we had to grab a quick bite once we arrived and head straight to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is the Moorish castle that the Moors occupied as rulers in Granada until 1492. Granada has arguably the deepest running influence of arabic culture of any city and the Alhambra was absolutely breathtaking.

After the Alhambra we headed in for a nice night's sleep. The next day we got up to explore the city a little bit. As we were walking towards the arab quarter there was beautiful architecture and quaint charm.

At one point I saw what looked like a convent and immediately remembered a Samantha Brown episode: CONVENT COOKIES! Basically there's a turnstile window where you place your money and order cookies. Then a nun on the other side places your cookies on the turnstile and turns it back. I had never done it and I was so excited. The cookies were really intensely sweet, meaning I think I was the only one who liked them. Either way it was a good experience.

Later that day, we walked past a guitar shop really close to our hostel. So of course we had to go in to look for Uncle Mark and my dad. I instantly well in love with the classical guitars. I've played guitar for almost 10 years, but mostly rock or jazz. I kept looking around at those guitars and I had the sudden strong urge to learn flamenco. As I was playing with a guitar the shop keeper had given me to look at, I knew I wanted it, but I wasn't sure I could afford it. My aunts shocked and delighted me by offering to buy it for me for a graduation present! I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful classical guitar (even though I can't really play it all that well).

Next we visited the cathedral. It was grand and beautiful. My mom and I lit a candle for my grandmother who recently died and converted to Catholicism right before her death. I thought it was a nice gesture.

That evening we went to a flamenco show. I absolutely love flamenco's rhythms and the impassioned movements. In the end, they got me, Aunt Sally, and Aunt Susan up to dance with them.

Then Sunday morning we got up intending to go on a tour of the olive oil producing countryside, but unfortunately it was raining so we canceled. We got back to Madrid a little earlier in the evening and settled back into our hotel with Aunt Sally's newly recovered luggage.

Cue the most major disaster of all. We decided to grab a bite close to our hotel at an outdoor cafe in a plaza. Aunt Susan had her purse hanging off the arm of her chair and at the end of the meal we realized that it was gone. I'm pretty sure that I saw the couple that took it sit down directly behind us, but then they left quickly. It was incredibly frustrating.

The next morning we got up and made a police report. I hope it didn't ruin Aunt Susan's experience, because I've been robbed and it definitely is upsetting. We spent the morning shopping and then I headed to class while they went to the Royal Palace.

That evening we had a final Spanish dinner, and then I saw them off to the airport the next morning.

It was so nice getting to show parts of my experience here in Spain to my family. I hope they enjoyed it, and it helps put a visual to some of the things I do everyday. Despite the difficulties of the traveling experience, I truly loved getting to spend time with the ladies of the Ragsdale-Harris-Clayton clan!

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