The Albaycín

As seen from the Alhambra

Seen from the Eastern route to the Alhambra

I only ended up staying in the Albaycín as an accident of hostel availability, and I was certainly grumpy as I arrived in Granada, sick and in need of a shower, only to realize that I had to walk 45 minutes from the bus station straight up a hill, and then through a labyrinth of tiny, identical Medieval streets to find my hostel. I don’t wish those climbing conditions on anyone, but staying in this neighborhood is my best and strongest memory from a month in Spain. Continue reading


Valencia and Las Falles, but Mostly Xátiva

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Everyone who’s heard of it insists that, if given the opportunity, you MUST experience Valencia’s Las Fallas festival, a crazy Spanish competition of hand-made paper monuments that results in large public burnings and incomprehensibly loud explosions. Apparently it’s crazy – something you have to see.

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The Great Mosque of Cordoba

(Or, “Would You Mind Taking My Photo?”)

IMG_2647 The Great Mosque of Cordoba/La Catedral de Córdoba is what drew me to Southern Spain, as opposed to any other warm European place. It was the focal point of the trip, the only thing I saw that I really knew anything about, and definitely one of the most impressive and enjoyable attractions I visited. Continue reading

Strange Economies

I sit in Granada’s Plaza Nuevo, trying to outlast a bad breakfast decision, just watching. It’s probably one o’clock, and things haven’t quite gotten started yet. The cafe tables are set out, but only a few are filled. There’s a lot of foot traffic, but I mostly see tourists. Any locals passing through likely fade into the scenery.

I sit on a bench towards the edge of plaza, partially shaded by a tree, intentionally facing nothing and no one in particular. Looking unfriendly and disinterested is a defense mechanism. Near me but at the center of the square, some people drag a few cafe chairs into an open space and a set up a small square platform. There are four of them, one dressed in a ruffled shirt with a tight vest, black pants, and dance shoes. He begins stomping on the platform while the others clap and bang. Once they have the attention of tourists in passing, they begin their music and dancing show.

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Park Güell and Travel Expectations


In planning for my arrival in Barcelona, I mostly consulted travel blogs, National Geographic, and travel articles from major newspapers. All sources agree: Antoni Gaudí’s work – art and architecture – is the thing to see in Barcelona. It’s bright! And based on nature! And invokes interesting geometric forms! So, I read a lot about him and the various sites around town, putting together a walking route that would take me to each location.

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