i really enjoy traveling. it’s official. heck, it might even be love.
i’ve been traveling around the iberian peninsula the last few weeks and have loved every minute of it. this past weekend was certainly no exception as i traveled to córdoba for a day and then spent two days in granada.
córdoba was a neat little town — apparently it’s in the running to be one of europe’s cultural capitals for the year 2016. neat stuff. we went to a cathedral and explored a bit and had a lovely day. note: this obviously wasn’t the most exhilarating place i’ve been to since i’ve been in europe since this is the only writing i’m planning on doing about it. here’s what the place looked like:
now let’s get to the good stuff: granada.
granada has definitely been my favorite place we’ve seen thus far as a group. the city was just such a neat place! there’s a lot of arabic-inspired things all around since it was the last muslim city to fall to los reyes católicos, ferdinand and isabella, in 1492.
note: yes, i am a huge nerd.
we visited this place called la alhambra which is more or less a moorish citadel/small town within granada. it was so cool walking around there — it’s so dang old! not sure if you realize this, but granada fell in 1492 (yes, i know i just posted that a paragraph ago) which is the same year that christopher columbus sailed across the atlantic. kind of a long time ago, right?! anyway, please check out this view from entering the citadel:
awesome, right?! yes, those are mountains — granada is near the sierra nevada mountain range and only an hour away from the mediterranean coast. definitely my kind of place.
anyway, exploring around here was great. there are three parts to the area and we hit all of them. here are some highlights:
okay, this is super cool — so like i mentioned earlier, la alhambra has tons of arabic inspirations; ergo, there are pieces of arabic phrases (many from the qaran) all over the walls. this specific phrase says, “solo Dios es venecedor“, meaning “God alone is victor” — how awesome is that?! i’m in love with it.
this is the view from the top of la alhambra — so incredibly gorgeous. some of the houses are actually built into the mountains, which is pretty sweet. here you can specifically see the older part of the town.
after our visit, we had some free time. i got some snackage with will and shatarra and then we went back to the room to relax a little before dinner. we watched part of a bullfight on television, which was interesting — needless to say i have to admit that i’m looking forward to seeing one of those in real life sometime soon before i leave spain (there will be footage of this on the video camera, never fear dad). we ate dinner in the hotel with the group and then went and saw la alhambra at night, which is apparently one of the top three most desired sights to see in the world right after the eiffel tower in paris, france and the vatican in italy. sadly, my pictures at night didn’t come out too well, but check out a lovely google image here.
afterwards there was naturally more exploring! there are tea houses everywhere with all kinds of tea (these places are called teterías) and also all kinds of hookah. i tried the hookah thing and let’s just say it was like that part in grease when sandy tried to smoke a cigarette for the first time. there is so much tea everywhere, in every flavor imaginable! i tried a kind called marroquí, which is a green mint tea. delicious. they sell it on the streets as well as in shops around the city:
after a fantastic first day in granada, we had round two at the cathedral! friends, i love the cathedrals we’ve been to, but i think this one was my favorite. first we went into part of the cathedral that isn’t really part of the cathedral (kind of confusing, i know, but just go with it) called la capilla (a chapel). the coolest thing about this? i saw the tombs of king ferdinand II of aragon and queen isabella I of castille, no big deal.
oh wait, IT IS A HUGE DEAL AND I WAS FREAKING OUT.
sadly, they didn’t allow pictures in the chapel at all, so there’s not really any documented proof that i saw their coffins and tombs in the chapel, but trust me. that’s probably one of the coolest things i have ever seen in my life! ferdinand and isabella are buried with their daughter, juana la loca (she’s called “la loca” because she was very emotional and had lots of problems) and her piece of crap husband felipe (he cheated on her and just kind of sucked in general). it was absolutely mind-blowing to see the tombs and the intricate details of everything. i also saw queen isabella’s crown — that thing is siiiick! i’d like to think i could rock something that classy on top of my head. after checking out some incredible historical artifacts and whatnot, we made moves to the cathedral.
i’ve been to a few cathedrals since i’ve been here, but i’m pretty sure this one was my favorite. yeah, sometimes they all start to kind of look the same and one cathedral’s architecture blends with another, but this one was just absolutely breathtaking; it almost brought me to tears.
note: sorry rafa, but i was tuning you out a bit when we were sitting in the pews.
clutching my rosary, i just couldn’t stop thinking about how insignificant i am in God’s plans and how astoundingly great He is. He’s been worshiped for thousands of years and here i am, only 21-years-old, sitting in an ancient cathedral where the likes of spanish royalty from the 15th century came to pray and attend mass.
there’s something really great about the significance of feeling insignificant if you asked me. personally, i usually feel small. it happens when you stand an inch from five feet tall. but this kind of feeling of smallness is different; it’s awe-inspiring. i knelt at one of the benches while the group was making its way into another room and just prayed for a minute. i hate to say this, but my church situation in spain has been lacking. since i’ve been out of town pretty much every weekend, i haven’t gone to church, and there isn’t a protestant church anywhere around here (at least that i’ve found). i haven’t been to church for a service in four weeks and it hasn’t been the easiest on me. i reveled in the moment to talk to God (not that i needed to be in an old cathedral to do it, but it was a good time for me and something i won’t forget doing).
being in the cathedral made me consider so many things. i am so incredibly blessed beyond even my own understanding — i mean, i’m currently in spain studying abroad, that’s blessing enough! i have a wonderful supportive family and great friends and a home to go back to when my time here is up. a verse from job came to my mind, too:
stop and consider God’s wonders.
i am pretty sure i’ve mentioned this verse in a previous post at some point, but it needs to be mentioned again.
i am experiencing so many of the wondrous things that God has made. i am looking at history in its actuality. how can i not stop and consider God’s creation?! this freshened perspective on my study abroad experience was much needed and has given me great clarity these last couple days.
anyway, pictures of the cathedral! how could i let you read about my heartfelt experience in the cathedral without showing you? that would just be cruel.
outside of the cathedral — it’s so big!
so much gold and intricate details everywhere! so breathtaking.
the stained glass in all of the cathedrals i’ve seen has been gorgeous, but this one is one of my favorite windows.
all in all, i definitely give the granada portion of my weekend a 10 out of 10. i’d love to go back if i could, but i don’t think i’ll have time. this weekend i’m heading to barcelona and then will probably end up spending the rest of my time in sevilla (possibly making a day trip here or there before leaving).
well, now that this post is sufficiently long enough to be read as part of a novel (speaking of which, i finished water for elephants on the way back to sevilla; so good, i totally recommend it!), i salute you for bearing with me and trucking through all of the nearly 1500 words which this post contains!
look out for more updates, specifically including another pros and cons of sevilla post!