Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Alhambra and Arab culture

3rd day

Today is Sunday (I'm having problems blogging because on the TV, three very enthusiastic persons sing time and again a stupid song "Spaghetti y tortilla! Tortilla voy a hacer!"). One however could make right guesses whether it is a weekday or a weekend judging by: how late people get up (window shutters open, el barrio fills with all sorts of food fragrances), how many empty beer cans are on the streets (our area is quite quiet though) and how people gather around the churches starting with 13 o'clock (there are services earlier, but few people go).

Dan, Anca, Oana and I went to a nearby Catholic church (I wanted to find one so that I could maintain the habit) and we stayed the entire service. It lasted less than back at home - only 45 minutes. Their choir (adolescents) had about 6 guitars (many guitars, many schools of flamenco, flamenco dresses and shows..., guitar courses and Andalucia especially) and were very huggy-huggy and kissy-kissy. After the service ended, we decided to go to the Banos Arabes de Albaicin and Alfar Romano de Cartuja - Arab Baths. We searched a lot, but the GPS (such a nice lady "Gira a la izquierda. Entonces, gira a la derecha.") - took us to the Emergency Hospital and to the Granada prison. Very nice. We gave up on the whole idea and we came home and ate a bit before going out again, by foot, in Granada.

That was a very helpful experience, since we have to manage alone. We walked, we saw the main avenues, the tiendas - stores - the streets were teeming with baby buggies, moms, young people and old people, foreigners. By 9 o'clock, we barely had space to move throughout the crowds!

We were lucky, we dropped into a fiesta - some sort of march of the town officials - much like "Sfanta Paraschiva" in Iasi. The crowds and the lights made it seem like an Ibiza look-alike. After all, Granada has *many* foreigners. The area of Andalucia in general has a tourism-oriented economy and it offers the necessary "panem et circum".

4th day

Getting up at 7 o'clock is nearly impossible when everyone around you gets up at at least 9. We had to go to the Extranjeria (Bureau of Immigration and Foreign Affaires) to make a residence card.

You need a residence card (for limited or permanent stay) to be able to make an account at a bank in Spain, to rent something and to be given the so-called N.I.E - an id given to foreigners (existence is greatly improved and you're able to move more freely). We went an hour earlier but it still wasn't enough - the queue was endless. It advanced fast. We were given numbers of order to be called in(they should implement this system in Romania...) and when the panel in the waiting room displayed it, we went there only to be annouced that the "lines" didn't work. The phone or something. The nice lady gave us a special number of order for tomorrow so that we could get immediately in and solve our issue. I hope it'll be okay.

Afterwards, from 14 to 20 we went to Alhambra. We explored every nook and cranny. Almost. But we saw everything that we couldn't two days ago, now that we had a pass everywhere.

Arab culture in  all its splendour - the gardens, the ingenious irigation systems that made a sky-high tuya grow out of infertile terra rossa, 400m high, in the palace premises...the intricate etchings in the walls and the secret passages.
We were programmed to visit "El Palacio de Nazaries" (the main location) at 19:00 (if you are late, you can't go in, and you are llowed to stay and visit only an hour). Therefore, from 14 until 19, we visited the Generalife area with its gardens and its towers.

Once perched high up, Albaicin - the neighbourhood that was at the feet of the Alhambra palace - appeared as a set of inordinate, irregular white and deep-green dots (houses and trees). Alhambra palace is a town by itself by the way.

So much patience, so much endurance and quiet beauty. My feet hurt, but the day is unforgettable.

School starts tomorrow.

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