Monday, March 1, 2010

Madrid Sweet Madrid: Granada, Sevilla, Lisboa

I have returned from my South Spain/Portugal trip. It feels so good to be back. It looks like it's mildly sunny today; a nice welcome back.

So first comes first: GRANADA

Granada is a really cool town. It has a huge Moorish past, which is still very visible in everything. We stay down this cool street where all the teterias (tea houses) and arabic souveneir-type shops were. I bought a stitched india-inspired rug thing (You've seen them around it's just hard to explain) so I can hang on my wall because it matches my bedspread. I also looooved the teterias. They had over 50 different types of tea for really cheap!

Our hostal streets
We arrived at night the first day so we just relaxed, but the next day we went to the Alhambra. This palace/walled town had been switched from Moorish rule to Christian rule numerous times during the wars. It was HUGE and really beautiful. You could see influences from both. It was a relatively nice day so the sun felt great compared to the rain we left in Madrid. They have water ways all over the town running up from the castle all through the streets. They are still running with water, I believe as energy power.

Military area of the town
Tiny windows in a tower
Gorgeous views of the surrounding city
We had our hearts set on skiing the Sierra Nevada mountains an hour away, but unfortunately the weather conditions for that Sunday were poor and the mountains were closed. As predicted the next day was very windy with off-and-on showers. We went to the gypsy caves of Sacramonte, but since we were there during siesta hour most stuff was closed. We walked around Granada, half lost, half following the map up to a plaza with a great view of the Alhambra and some street jewelry.

The Alhambra
A plaza we went through while lost, also gray skies
Sacramonete hills
View of the Sierra Nevada mountain range from Granada

We heard about Granada's arabic bath houses and decided to go that night at 8pm. It was so worth it! There were about 3 different baths each of a different temperature. You also get a 15 minute massage. It was a lot of fun and very relaxing. It was called Baño Hammam and it was so nice and my first massage!

The square at night
The next morning we left on a 3 hour bus to Sevilla.


We arrive in beautiful Sevilla! The weather was warm the majority of the time we were there. We took full advantage and spent at least 2 hours on our hostal's roof soaking in the sun/napping.

We saw the famous cathedral. It's supposedly the biggest gothic cathedral in Europe. That was pretty cool. Personally I like the cathedral in Toledo more because it contained more intricate designs and mural work, but it was still beautiful. My camera died shortly so I only have a couple pics.

We also went to the Alcazar, which is another palace area designed by half Catholic/half Moorish inspirations. It was absolutely gorgeous (and free for students!). My favorite part was the gardens. I could have spent hours and hours in those gardens. We went through some hedge mazes and walked down the dirt paths. There were small gazebos, ponds with bright fish, and old walls covered in vines. Unfortunately I have no pictures because my stupid camera died, but Shae got a lot that she's going to give to me.

The next day, we saw the Plaza del Toros. Bullfights don't begin until May, but we got to take a tour and go in the museum. The stadium was really pretty and bright. It was also a lot smaller than I imagine. The tour was first in Spanish, then said in English, but I only needed to hear the Spanish version to understand. I was very proud of myself. The tour woman only addressed us in Spanish because she could tell we understood. It felt good :)

Sevilla is a famous city for bullfights

The same day, our hostal provides bikes for rent. Sevilla was sunny and gorgeous and flat, so we went on a ride. It was one of my favorite things we did in Sevilla. We went through a beautiful park and lots of squares. We stopped for lunch at a cafe that was delicious.

Taking pictures while riding...skill.
El parque
I really enjoyed Sevilla. Probably the most. I could have spent more time there, not sightseeing necessarily, just walking around and enjoying the sun. We ate some amazing tapas in Sevilla! We also met up with my friend Nick from Cal Poly who is studying in Germany, so that was fun! There are sooo many Germans in Sevilla for some reason so he got to practice as well!

We also went to the arabic baths in Sevilla, but I enjoyed the smaller Granada bath more.
We left Sevilla after a delicious dinner, and took a night bus to Lisboa, Portugal. We arrived in Portugal a lot earlier than expected so the metro was closed. Luckily the cab ride was only 8 euro and took us straight to our hostal door. We were too early to check-in so we slept in the living room until Jess and Addy arrived.


Our hostal was absolutely adorable. It is an old mansion converted into a hostal, so it felt like we were at someone's house the whole time. It was very comfortable, and like all our others, served free breakfast. All our hostals were the Oasis hostals, but each was different.

The first day in Portugal we didn't do much because we were planning on taking the tour the hostal offered the next day. We ate, relaxed, and caught up on sleep.

Elevator we went on to see Lisboa skyline

The next day we spent the whole day with Bruno, a native Lisboan, who offers tours to Oasis hostalers. He takes you to all the best places in his van. It was so convenient. I couldn't imagine getting to all those places by train and bus because not everything is in Lisboa. It's very spread out. Portugal is also famous for its pastries, so we also were taken to try the 3 most famous/DELICIOUS! Lisboa is so similar, yet different from San Francisco it was eery at first! They have a bridge designed by the same architect as the Golden Gate so it looks very similar! It is also VERY hilly and trolleys are everywhere. The weather was super foggy as well...I might as well have been home!

Nope, not San Francisco... LISBOA!
My first trolley ride!
I didn't know this existed!
The symbol of Portugal
It was fun going to the beach, even in the rain
Very green! A perfect summer locale
The famous palace. Pictures don't do it justice
One of my favorite parts! The palace in Sintra
Sintra is a very cute town
The next day we didn't sightsee as much since we got so much in yesterday. We were also all very tired from traveling all week. It was difficult not knowing how to communicate in Portugal. I missed speaking Spanish and my bed in Madrid! We were all ready to go back after a long, fun week!

I tried to fit everything in this post without being overwhelming. Hopefully I summed it up well!
Miss you!


  1. Wow! That is amazing how Lisbon is similar to SF. All the cities look so pretty. Glad u had a good time. Good for you on your Spanish.

  2. Nice info Al, looking forward to seeing you,Love much.Dad

  3. By far your best post. Love seeing the pictures espeacially the ones of you. It's looks awesome. I'm jealous keep up the good job. Love Tio Roberto

  4. I just read you blog again! I miss you .Dad


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