It’s really hard to think that a full month in Spain has already passed. It has taken me longer than usual to get settled, but with all the highs there must come some lows. I have been keeping busy which is a good thing, and also started some new classes that are held in the city of Alicante. Every Tuesday and Thursday I try to let the Shakira come out in me, and enjoy learning salsa and some other dances soon to come. Every Wednesday I walk to CDT Alicante, which is a culinary school in the area, and make some mouthwatering meals and delectable desserts. My favorite thus far to cook was the fideuá, which has shrimp, crawfish, cuttlefish, clams, mussels, in a macaroni pasta with vegetables. Fideuá is similar to paella, a typical Spanish dish, but more popular in Alicante. That being said, the most tasteful meal in my mind was pollo a la naranja (chicken in orange sauce), and for dessert homemade churros! I now am taking all of my registered courses, barring a sailing class that starts once the weather is a little nicer. Can’t wait! Another weekly Wednesday activity that I get a kick out of are USAC soccer matches, including our program directors and their friends. The games bring me back to the glory days of 6th grade travel team soccer, but needless to say, a purchase of cleats may be made in the near future since my Asics running shoes leave me ingesting turf sometimes.
Having only two classes in the morning, and no class on Fridays, has allowed for much down time and much needed exploration. I really am entertained just by walking around with my camera, and places like the port, Castillo de Santa Barbara, poetry wall, and parks are places I frequent. One of the newer places I stumbled upon (from a request) was a poetry area. Nestled up one alleyway there are freehand verses that lead to a main wall full of haikus and rhymes. I found one of my friends there, and was one of my favorites: sea tu mismo, sea feliz, sea Alicante. Be yourself, be happy, be Alicante. It is a pretty unique place and maybe I will make my mark on Alicante before June comes around!
February so far has also included a little travel. First, some friends and I took a day trip to Valencia to tour the city and Oceanogràfic. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and also the capital of the Valencian Community. One place we walked to was the Llotja de la Seda or “Silk Exchange,” also known as the Hall of Columns, which is a Gothic style civil building and one of the main attractions in Valencia. This building also features a Courtyard of the Orange Trees. Another place we went to was the Cathedral of Valencia that has massive doors and wonderful architecture. After reading online, the Cathedral is supposedly home to what many believe to be the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ during the last supper.
The last stop in Valencia was la Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias. There are many buildings with art and science exhibits, music halls, which were all designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The design of the whole area is extraordinary. The part we walked around was the Oceanogràfic which is the largest aquarium in Europe. Each building is identified with aquatic environments like the Mediterranean, Temperate and Tropical Seas, the Antarctic, and the Dolphinarium where we saw a spectacular dolphin show!
The weekend after Valencia, we had a USAC trip to Granada for three days. Also a capital city, Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and home to the ever famous Alhambra. Our first night was a walking tour through the city and to Albaicín, a community that has many winding streets and sits on a hill facing the Alhambra. The very top of Albaicín is the Church of San Nicolas where there are great views of the Alhambra. The next day was dedicated to touring this Moorish palace. Granada has a lot of Arabic influence, and La Alhambra’s palaces were built for the last Muslim Emirs in Spain and its court, of the Nasrid dynasty. Some points of interest within the Alhambra are The Court of the Lions, fountains at the Palacio de Generalife, and the Palacio de Pórtico.
The place is simply jaw-dropping, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. Moorish poets described it as “a pearl set in emeralds,” in allusion to the color of its buildings and the woods around them. This would definitely be a place I would like to see in full bloom. If you would like to watch, here is a video interview atop the Alhambra!
We also did a lot of exploring in Granada and had dinner both nights at tapas bars. By far the best tapas in Spain thus far! It really was a fun way to get a feel for the city, try some new food, and enjoy our limited stay. I also went to my first tetería, and tried some cinnamon tea that was the house special. That night we went to a discoteca called El Camborio for some dancing and fun. The place was high up a hill as well, and apparently has one of the top five views of any club in Spain and the world! The view of course was of the Alhambra, and it was awesome to hang out on the terraces and dance floor seeing it all lit up. So far all my Spain trips have been wonderful, and next stop…Morocco! See you soon. Hasta pronto.
More food photos are here.
More photos from Valencia are here.
More photos from Granada are here.