Saturday, March 26, 2016

Friends, Faro and Granada

 My first non-program trip of the semester was to Faro, Portugal with Caroline the last weekend in February. Monday was a fiesta so we didn’t have class. I was excited to spend a long weekend at the beach. Unfortunately the weather didn’t quite cooperate and I ended up wearing a coat everyday but it was a good time nevertheless. This was also an exciting weekend because on Saturday night my friend-from-home Lily, who’s currently studying in Paris, met us in Portugal and then spent the week with me in Sevilla!
Faro, Portugal
We took the bus from Sevilla to Faro and it was nice and easy, only two hours. We got to our hostel no problem and were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. This was Caroline’s first non-program trip ever so I was excited to show her the ropes so to speak. Faro is a pretty small town and it’s definitely a summer town. There wasn’t too much to do but we met this kid named Miles who was staying in our room that night (it was just the three of us) and decided to spend the evening with him. We went to a chapel of bones which was SO creepy. I don’t know man, I did not like the feeling of being surrounded by bones and having a bunch of skulls staring at me! While we were walking around we found a vihno biblioteca (wine library) that was having happy hour, only 1,5€ for a glass of wine. It was super cozy and we spent forever there and bless Miles for being genuinely interested in hearing about Sweet Briar. If you get two SBC girls together, especially with wine, you’re going to hear all about the time that it almost closed…even if all the people in question were there. After we had our wine we went out to an Italian place and then to this upscale bar that Caroline found online. They had a super snazzy music video advertisement so we obviously had to go. We ordered our ridiculously priced drinks; mine was a warm berry butter something or other drink. Amazing. It was cold and rainy but luckily they were well prepared and had blankets to keep us warm! Also, don’t let them know but I stole the cup (it was a nice ceramic one).
Deserted Island, Faro
Interesting note: when we were walking from the restaurant to the bar I experienced probably the most blatant example of gender conditioning ever. Miles was joking/playing around on one of the weird playground things on the edge of a parking lot. Caroline and I noticed that a car had driven by us several times, rather slowly before speeding around the parking lot. Then they stopped and two men got out of the car…though they were pretty far away from us. We told Miles that it was time to go and we power walked to the bar and the two men followed us the entire time, stopping only when we went and sat at the bar. We asked Miles what he thought about them and he hadn’t even noticed them and had been wondering why we wanted to leave to abruptly. Maybe we were imagining things but the fact that we both thought the same thing without even speaking to each other while he didn’t notice anything speaks volumes about gender conditioning.
Saturday was pretty relaxed, Caroline and I walked around the town until Lily got there it the evening. It was a bit sad because so many of the buildings were basically falling apart. A sad sort of beautiful. That night we had dinner at the hostel. They were having a special 5 course meal. It was amazing, but very filling!
Carrot cream soup, avocado and tomato, creamy spinach and mushrooms and peanut chutney, a grilled pepper stuffed with cheese and cous-cous, mango mousse. Obviously with Sangria.
Sacramonte, Granada
I met this Danish couple at dinner that was cycling through Portugal. They have a son who is living/working/volunteering in India and a daughter who is going to Colombia University for their journalism graduate program. After we ate we played a bit of “drinking Jenga” with some of the people at the hostel and then we headed out to a bar that Caroline had found online. There was a band that was going to be playing called “Six Irishmen and a Fiddle”. They weren’t particularly good but it was fun to sit in a nice bar and order fancy drinks (Sex on the Beach and Strawberry Daiquiris, can you tell we were wishing for warmer weather?)
Our game plan for Sunday was to go to this desert island. We headed down to the dock bright and early in our shorts praying that it would warm up. The island was about a 35 minute ferry ride away and was really cool. There’s nothing on it besides one restaurant and a couple of storage shacks. During the high season they only take 400 people out a day but there were way less when we went! We had a bunch of fun walking around the island, laying in the sun, and dancing around in the waves. Oh and I also made Caroline and Lily join my mini beach cleanup…there was an awful lot of trash for an uninhabited island. After a full day at the beach we went out for Mexican food complete with margaritas.
Sacramonte, Granada
We headed back to Sevilla on Monday. Lily spent the week with me and my host family My host mom is an angel, apparently a lot of people charge if their students have someone over but it wasn’t a huge deal because I have an extra bed in my room this semester and we didn’t really eat en casa. I had class all week so I didn’t get to spend much time doing touristy things like I did when the family was here but since I didn’t have anything to do on Friday we spent the morning at a café and paseando por la ciudad. We got French fries from this place I’ve been dying to try and then got bocadillos and spent the afternoon at the park by the river just like I did when my family was here. It was great.

The next day was my program trip to Granada. I went last semester so just like with Madrid I kind of got to do my own thing. Lily and I spend the afternoon eating on an outdoor staircase in the sun trying to see how much we could remember about the people we went to high school with. It wasn’t that long ago but you forget a lot and fast! 
Sacramonte, Granada
The next day, while everyone else was at the Alhambra I decided that I was going to check out Sacramonte which is a neighborhood of Granada famous for its caves. The gypsies traditionally lived there but now they are home to professional squatters, the poorer population, and the hippie type. It was really cool to walk through the area but at the same time it felt like I was intruding on their lives. It’s a part of the city I had heard about but had never been to. I was surprised by how expansive the area was and also the diversity. Some houses looked normal; they were built into the caves but had entrances that looked like normal houses while others were literally just the cave with maybe a blanket hanging over the front. The normal looking ones were really nice and I could totally see myself living in one but the others were just really dirty. You could tell that the tourists normally walked around the nicer area, there were bars and locals out playing their guitars and kids outside. The other area was very hard to navigate and you could tell the only people there were those who lived there and the slightly more adventurous tourists. I really do like Granada, especially the juxtaposing landscapes...palm trees and snow capped mountains! As usually though I was happy to get home to Sevilla <3

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