I’m alright as hostesses go, but people who know me will tell you I am more feeder than tour-guide. Day Two of Uni Galz On Tour, I took my guests for a walk to the city centre, via Triunfo. It’s not until you show others around a place that you realise how much you really take it for granted. I’ve never truly appreciated los Jardines de Triunfo as much as I should. It’s no Generalife, but as parks go, it provides a great spot for sunbathing during summer months, with its brilliant white stone, well-maintained gardens and beautiful fountains.
After this stop we strolled through Gran Via, a striking feature in itself. This being the main road, it is lined with towering buildings, some of which are prestigious hotels, others tabaquerías; I had to walk up and down this road every Tuesday and Thursday for four months. I never got bored. There is so much to look at; not only the buildings but the people themselves – I no longer minded walking at Spanish-pace, because that way I could take it all in, which I had forgotten to do until I noticed the girls pausing in their steps. It’s true that a lot of the time it was to gaze over ofertas on boards outside tapas bars, but even so, Granada always delivers something to marvel at. Taking a short-cut via Calle Elvira, we found ourselves in Plaza Nueva. Walking through this square always incites a feeling of grandeur and history. Despite the hustle and bustle that surrounds it, Plaza Nueva remains open, clean, and imposing. It is for this reason that we decided to have lunch outside one of its restaurants… and later inside (when we realised they charged more for al-fresco dining; CLASSIC tourist trap). We all shared pizzas, and enjoyed large jugs of sangria, before mooching onto the next part of my tour.
If you continue walking through the plaza you will find yourself at carerra del Darro, a passage along the river from which you can view the Alhambra, from below, in all its splendour. Through the backstreets from this point, you can also get to the Albaicín, the Arab quarter of Granada, which I led the girls to next. Places like this made me appreciate my Erasmus location more. The Albaicín is not just some honey-pot for tourists – it holds real culture; one separated from the rest. The girls had a look around the sloped streets fragranced with incense and laden with shops selling trinkets, leather bags, Arabian tapestry and the like. “I really have always wanted a rucksack like this…”
After our alternative shopping trip we found ourselves back on Gran Via, and in a café which displayed the most mouth-watering pastries. We did all feel very European sitting there with our short coffees and pasteles, but one thing I do find is that Spanish bakeries are more often than not disappointing. Each to their own; it was nice, but I think I will be leaving tea and cake for home. I think the girls were more or less on the same wavelength as me, as we then made our way to ‘Mercadoooona, Mercadona’; tinto de verano/flavoured vodka/honey rum/any alcohol you couldn’t find in the UK, hangover-munchies and Milka (“OMG IT’S SO CHEAP HERE”) chocolate was happening.
I hand it to my flatmates; they dealt with six extra people staying in the flat well – waiting for a shower to be free was probably the worst, but somehow we managed it. Everyone was ready for LA GRAN FIESTA; Princess Liz was so merry she was keen to try out her linguistic skills, which admittedly Joshua and I should not have taken advantage of. Liz’s Spanish vocabulary covered various food terms, adjectives of appraisal; her fave being ‘estupendo’, and now, unknowingly, a selection of obscenities. This was all ‘just banter’ until what she thought was “super cool” was not something you wanted to be shouting in the middle of a discoteca.
Before ambling to El Camborio, the (in)famous club on a massive cobble-stoned hill, we went to Babylon, which will always be my favourite chupiteria. The girls could not believe how many different shots there were to choose from, (not to mention how cheap they were); I always had a trusted mojito from Fabio, who has heard me speaking the worst pidgin Italian more times than I would like to admit, yet was I ever judged for it? MA NON!
“!TEQUILA!” “!ESTUPENDO!” “!*****!”
O.K. Time to move.
We arrived at Camborio and again I had to take in what I had forgotten about Granada. Al and Nic were in awe. “Look at that!” To be fair it is one of the nicest views you’ll ever get from a smoking area – the Alhambra, lit up at night, stood there, claiming stance over the rest of the city.
Inside the club, we were all #LovinLyf. Although Liz used to give me stick over my choice in what I like to think is a more cultured taste in music (reggaeton), she was now enjoying the Hispanic vibe, as were Nic and Han, who had grown up to similar sounds played on French radio. Language barrier only caused a little trouble that night; a Spanish chico had approached Crystal with the intention of a dance, but would not take ‘No’ or ‘I don’t speak Spanish’ for an answer. I didn’t hear what he said next, but I believe she copied him in response. “BLEUGH BLEUGH LAH.” Fair play.
Every minute felt like being on holiday; we tried to dance salsa, we ordered cocktails, and we screamed along to the lyrics of every English song played. Beats Liquid on a Friday night, just sayin’. We even got a shawarma (it’s better than kebab – BELIEVE IT) on the way home; and because there were so many of us crowded into this kebaby it felt like an after party. The walk home was cold. I remember that.
We wanted to make the most of the precious time we had together *cringe but it’s true* so had agreed to wake up at a sensible hour the next day. Only trouble is it’s Spain, therefore it is already the next day; I don’t know what time we got in, but I can safely say that shawarma was more breakfast than dinner.
We were zombies; the next day involved passing bags of crisps and foreign chocolate from mattress to mattress to mattress; we decided to take it easy, and make a trip to the Plaza de Toros because it was market day. Unfortunately by the time we had got ourselves together, the market was over. This did not stop us from wasting a photo-op; nor from Han to play matadora to Al’s toro. I’m not sure what the locals thought of a girl running around with a scarf while the other had two fingers (horns) on her head. Locas.
To make sure the girls caught their plane on time we returned to Málaga the day before, and set up camp at Casalooch’s pad. Josh being the Italian Stallion cooked us all pasta, and we all snuggled up to watch Black Swan. I did fall asleep. I did snore. I have seen the movie since and it’s actually quite good, but I had to act as expected of me at a sleepover. Accommodating everybody at mine was quite a push; at Josh’s house we literally took over every comfy surface. I think the girls were exhausted and probably glad to be going back to beds (double beds); despite this, we all felt Spain had cheated us out of time. It seemed all too soon that Casalooch was bidding us farewell at the station; I had gotten on the same train as the girls, to get off at central Malaga for my bus back home, and to reality. Hugging my friends goodbye was horrible and rushed. I had had the best time, with six of my closest, and the last four days had felt like a snippet of the last year spent with them.
If I am being honest, when I returned to my empty room (save for two spare mattresses and half a packet of uneaten Milka) I was at a bit of loss, and didn’t quite know what to do with myself.
I ate said Milka. The girls must have known I would need it.