I know right now I’m probably one of the luckiest girls in the world, but sometimes, it really doesn’t feel like it. Maybe the loneliness is starting to kick in, maybe it’s because Mercury is in retrograde, maybe I’m just a dumbass. Whatever it is, I can’t seem to have any luck in the travel department…
My second day in Granada, I went to probably one of the most visited sites in Spain – La Alhambra. I bought my ticket the night before, and was a little shocked at the price. But everyone I had talked to said I had to go. I got there early the next morning, and with my 51 euro ticket in hand, tried to follow the rest of the tourists past the gate. The man looked at my ticket, looked at me, and got all sorts of confused. A woman escorted me to the “travel agency” office, and after a few minutes of even more confusion, I was told that the meeting place was behind the bookstore. Apparently, I had signed up for a guided tour.
While I waited, I noticed two other girls about my age talking about the coldest winter in Florida. Sweet – I found a Floridian. This won’t be so bad. Our tour guide spoke English pretty well – well, except the part about using “cock” under the bed to keep it warm (he meant “coal”) but the girls and I couldn’t stop giggling. An hour and a half into the tour, I asked our guide, Pepe, if we were going to get to the palace anytime soon, and his response? “No. This tour doesn’t include the palace. It’s only for the outer walls and city of Alhambra. I told you that. I’m just a guide here, and I only make minimum wage, sometimes less…”
Aaaaand that’s when I started to tune him out. A few people from the group overheard what he said, and were just as shocked as I was. The two girls, Elyse and Nina, were just as pissed, and after we all got yelled at, the three of us made the decision to try to buy tickets to the palace, which apparently were sold separately for 12 euro.
If you google La Alhambra, 90% of the images you’ll find are of the elaborate palaces, fountains, and gardens. So far on the tour, we’d had a history lesson, an in-depth lecture on the types of river rock used, and childhood stories from Pepe. He told us to return our walkie-talkies and go try to buy tickets, but they were probably sold out, and chances are, we wouldn’t get any. In the off-chance we did find some, we wouldn’t be able to re-join the group, since we didn’t know our way around, and he wasn’t waiting for us.
Needless to say, the three of us were successful in getting tickets, and, just to make Pepe even more irritable, got a personal escort back to the group. Pepe was not pleased.
We suffered through a couple more hours of the tour, Elyse, Nina and I headed back to the entrance to get into the palace. It was now almost 3:00. We still had to wait about 20 minutes before going in, since they stagger in-times to control the crowds. We had to fight our way through tourist groups of 30-40 people, and with every “room”, we barely spent a minute inside, looked around, looked up, and said “alright, next.” Honestly, we were pretty disappointed. We walked through the garndens on Generalife, and I was convicned we missed a palace. I’d seen picures of fountains with lions, and was pretty sure we didn’t see it yet. A few girls sitting outside the entrance told us those lions and fountains had been removed YEARS AGO for restoration. Now we were just pissed. We went to the complaint office, and after coming up with a good strategy, marched our pretty little asses inside. Just as we almost ran out of words about how disappointed we were with the Alhambra experience in general, the woman gave us “applications” for our refunds. Well. That was easy.
A long sucky day like that called for some drinks. The three of us headed back in the direction of their hotel and bar-hopped for sangrias and tapas. We “flirted” with some dirty old men for free sangria, changed our names, and they gave me lessons on how to wear my first scarf. (I bought two. Everyone in Spain has one and I got jealous.) We made plans to meet in Barcelona, and I was on my way back to the hostel.
A few sweaty minutes later, I was back “home” and all I could think about was a hot shower and about a gallon of water. I walked downstairs to my room and saw a note on the door – something about “DO NOT ENTER – SPRAYING FOR BUGS – SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.” I asked THREE different staff members, and no one seemed to have any idea what was going on. I was told they moved my bag and belongings to another room – a room right off the patio, which is by far the noisiest area of the hostel. Sonju mad. I was so mad I wanted to cry. After a day like that, and four sangrias down, coming back to see that someone else had gone through my stuff, packed it up, and moved it to another room without contacting me just threw me over my limit. After yelling, holding back the tears, two cigarettes and a free mojito later, I calmed down and stayed for dinner. Besides, there was no way I was going to carry that bag on my back in the dark and twisty streets trying to find another hostel for the night.
So let’s recap Granado so far – Get lost, walk by the hostel three times as one of the staff members notices me and doesn’t offer to help,La Alhambra sucks ass…and now I feel a little violated and displaced. Awesome. Granada Rules.
The hostel organized a nature walk the next morning. I had met another Floridian (what are the odds?) and we made a deal to do the walk, through the mountains, in our flip flops. He didn’t really have a choice – he didn’t have sneakers. I won’t get all wordy with how the day was- just look at the photos.
The 7 hour nature walk was just what I needed. A little sun (ok, more than just a little) some rocky terrain, rushing water, cold spray from the waterfalls, good company….maybe my luck is turning around. We spent the night at the hostel with some “hair-dryer” chicken, another sing-along thanks to the Danish students and their awesome teacher, (they even played a Mraz song!) and I went to bed around midnight. As soon as I got into bed I realized my flight to Barcelona was actually the next morning…