Monday 26 Jan - Go pro in the snow
Australia day back home! We had to do something awesome in Granada to celebrate it so we decided to do a day trip to Sierra Nevada and go skiing. After watching the sunrise on the bus trip up, (only a 50min drive!) it was a beautiful 15 degrees and sunny on top of the mountain which was the perfect day to be there. It was also my first proper attempt at skiing so I was a bit nervous but incredibly excited! As soon as we arrived we couldn't help admire the snow and the small town shops with their roofs dripping with icicles. Whilst hiring our ski gear and equipment, we met an Aussie guy that was working there and reminding him that it was actually Australia day back home he kindly gave us all a discount as we went to the effort of creating our own flag and flashing it up the top of the mountain. At first I felt extremely uncoordinated walking around on skis and as we caught the first chairlift up to the top of the mountain, then began the fun! Of course I was on my bum 70% of the day but each time we went down I was gradually getting better. Although, I don't know how the girls convinced me, but I ended up on the medium slope at one stage of the day and that was terrifying at how steep they were. But I did it! It took me a while but I reached the bottom and I went straight back to the easy slopes (which weren't even that easy, just a lot easier than the medium slopes). By the end of the day my best effort was falling once on the way down, so I was pretty pleased with that. We lay in the snow and threw snowballs and made a snowman (without the face, basically just balls of snow) but we left on the last bus watching the sunset on the way home and that was also an experience. Definitely one of the best days we have had in Granada and the best way to celebrate Australia day without actually being there.
Tuesday 27 Jan - Chapel paths and Arabic bathes
Only two more days until our exams, so everyone was on the books and we had made deals to only speak Spanish while we were together (if it lasted for more than 20 minutes that was a good effort). After our intensive classes we had our very last cultural class with Maria and she took us to the cathedral and the royal gothic chapel. The way the architecture was structured on the outside of the chapel had points or spikes on top which portrayed this type of gothic style; I found this to be really interesting as there have been other buildings I have visited where I have seen similar styles and I now know the real meaning. When we walked inside the chapel, the coffins of Isabella and Ferdinand were large, exaggerative and beautifully decorated to signify that they were the king and queen of Granada. We walked downstairs which were directly underneath the large sculptures which showcased where the bodies lay. We learnt a lot about the background and Maria was so lovely and always intriguing to listen to. Later in the evening there were the famous Arabic bathes we kept hearing of, a few of the girls and I had finally booked a late session to check them out. I was keen for a massage and just a night of relaxing! I didn't really know what to expect before we entered but it was so much more implausible than I had anticipated. It felt like we were having a bath in the Alhambra - probably the best way to describe it. After switching into different bath temperatures, having a relaxing massage and lying on a relaxing hot stone I knew I was going to book another session before leaving Granada.
Thursday 29 Jan - Exam day and gypsy caves
The day of our exams had crept up! The day before was basically spent studying and having conversations in Spanish with one another to prepare as much as we could. There was a reading part, listening, grammar, two writing parts and an oral. Basically everything we had been learning for the past month we were being tested on. A lot of people were happier than initially planned after sitting the exams because due to our intensive classes we were sure that the exams were going to be difficult. However, the hard work paid off and it was definitely manageable. The speaking (which everyone is most nervous about) was nowhere near as complex as we had imagined so in this case it was better to expect the worse and finish relieved! As soon as it was over, I met up with my Aussie group to take a trip to the Sacromonte where we walked past the steep mountains that actually had gypsy caves on the sides (gypsies literally living in the sides of the mountains) you could see the caves from a distance and it was the wackiest thing. We arrived at the top of the Sacromonte and were taken around on a short tour to admire the architecture and the aged building. Afterwards a few of us Aussies met up with a few of the Americans and went to a flamenco show later that night in the Albayzin. This was my second flamenco show in Granada and I was left even more impressed the second time around after seeing a man perform and flaunt his moves. It was such a different experience and the way he danced was unbelievable. Watch a man perform flamenco. Check!
Friday 30 Jan - Never too late to celebrate
After finishing our exams we were given the day off to celebrate and enjoy a long weekend which we were all stoked for. Another wander around Plaza Nueva we found a cute little Arabic tea house that offered numerous flavours of tea and shisha so we stopped there for a while. The teahouse was decorated with bright lanterns and colourful patterns and we sat at small tables that were covered in decorative cushions. The teapots and cups were old fashioned, kind of an antique style and the setting of the room was really tranquil and relaxing. Later that night we went bar hopping (not surprising) to celebrate the end of our exams and the start to our long weekend. We eventually checked out the main nightclub, 'Mae West', which ended up just being a 5 minute walk from our corner. A lot of random Spanish beats, some mainstream music and a bit of Enrique Iglesias was all we needed! It was certainly an entertaining and late night that ended with early morning kebabs (extremely satisfying) before heading home.
Saturday 31 Jan - Bathes round 2 and shopping with the crew
After an amazing sleep in we wandered down to the Arabic bathes for the second time around as I was beyond amazed the first time but couldn't get enough. The most relaxing place to be on a long weekend, exams done, just in a peaceful and calming environment with your girlfriends was the only way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Most of us did our shopping and picked up the last of the things we wanted to buy in the Albayzin. I was looking out for a tea set and found the most beautiful one that came with a set of 4 glasses, the Arabic design and a patterned silver plate; no doubt I was taking it home! We finished off the day with great coffee and delicious cakes that were only a block from our street. (This is why we joined the gym!) I found a couple of bizarre Spanish TV shows that were on YouTube and I watched a couple of those before we went out for dinner, there were bits and pieces that I could understand but the speed of the conversations were still ridiculously fast! I couldn't believe we only had one week left after this weekend, time has absolutely flown and I'm going to miss the free tapas in most of the bars (eating as much tapas as I can before I leave)!
Sunday 1 Feb - Mummies in the dark at the science park
It was a beautiful sunny day and one of my friends and I decided to venture over to the Science Park as we had heard about it and was curious to see if it was anything like 'Science works' in Melbourne. Turns out there was a huge new mummy exhibition happening which was extremely intriguing and once we wandered inside it was one of the most interesting yet bizarre things I had ever seen. There were more than 15 huge glass cases that held the creepy, mummified bodies and surrounded by them were smaller cases filled with old artefacts and gruesome discoveries. The entire park was huge so there were numerous other rooms including the human body, animals, the history of AndalucÃa and even a bird and butterfly house. We spent nearly 3 hours exploring everything and there were similar exhibits to those in 'Science works' that had the interactive games and informative displays. We also watched the production that was held in the planetarium (obviously in Spanish) and climbed the stairs to the top of the observation deck of the park which had further miraculous views of Granada and the snowy tops of Sierra Nevada. It was definitely something I'd recommend and visit again, especially for the freaky horror movie-like mummies! The very American super bowl was playing that night so all of the bars in Granada were filled with loud Americans and we decided to be a part of the swarm for a couple of hours. The game itself though was entirely unrivetting but observing the crowd was entertaining and it was an excuse to catch up with our American friends. (Will always be more of an AFL fan - no bias).
You can read more about my adventures in Intensive Spanish in Granda, Week 3, Intensive Spanish in Granda, Week 2andIntensive Spanish in Granada, Week 1