From Valencia, we headed to Granada and after a long day of train rides, ended up in Granada with elusive directions to the Rambutan hostel. We couldn’t find the bus we needed and were so exhausted so we decided to just grab a cab to take us and once we were dropped off, we were still confused about where we needed to be but eventually after climbing and walking around the Albazin district, we stumbled upon our hostel. Rambutan is so much more than a hostel though. It’s a lot more like a home. People who stay there sometimes get roped into staying in Granada forever because Rambutan is so awesome and the people so fun with such good parties. Rambutan even gives you the option of sleeping on their roof for only 10 euros a night and the location is amazing since the whole house overlooks the Alhambra. We knew we were going to be obsessed with this quirky place and quickly canceled our hostel stay in Sevilla to stay in Granada an extra night.

Our view from Rambutan

Our time in Granada was great because we quickly made friends with all the kids staying at Rambutan and after partying together that night at Rambutan, we all went in search of this river that someone had heard someone else saying who had heard someone else saying that it existed. We took a bus to this other small town near Granada and set off on our walk through the desert and climbed down a near death experience of a hill to get to this tiny little stream until we found the river.
We also got to try authentic churros for breakfast and an authentic tortilla espanol bocadilla.

A house in the small town.

This crazy little guy who was so excited for us to tell ask him about his donkey whose name was Chico apparently. Then I asked the man what his name was and he looked at me like he was so surprised that I wanted to know, like he’s use to people only wanting to know about his donkey and he says, “Mi Nombre is Jose” like duh! everyone’s name is Jose.It was so funny.

The beautiful desert

All of us, Rambutan kids next to the freezing cold stream

Jumping into the river

Can you spot the bull sculpture? In Spain, these bull sculptures are everywhere.
It was such a good day though. We also stopped and got our tapas and sangria at a little bar after swimming. The beautiful thing about Granada is the whole time we were there we never paid to eat because every time you order a drink, even a soda or juice, you get a free tapa. The tapas are pretty big and you never know what you are going to get. The more drinks you buy from one place, the better the tapas gets. So the element of surprise is excellent and so is the free factor.

After swimming, we also went to see this famous grafitti artist’s house. The artist is known as El Nino and the art around his block was so good.

El Nino!

The Alhambra at night from Rambutan

The rest of our days in Rambutan were spent partying around the hostel, walking around town doing some souvenir shopping for our families and hitting a club at night and walking around the Albazin.

The other cool thing we did was go to a water park one afternoon and it was so much fun because it’s basically in the desert as well so while you should be sweating, you are nice and chill on a water slide. It was a very authentic experience as well to be at a Spanish theme park with a whole bunch of families and kids from our hostel.

On our last day, we finally went to to see the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a moorish palace and one of the wonders of the world. Once the residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada and their court, the Alhambra is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions exhibiting the country’s most famous Islamic architecture, together with Christian 16th century and later interventions in buildings and gardens that marked its image as it can be seen today. Within the Alhambra, the Palace of Charles V was erected by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527. You basically have to wake up at 4 in the morning to get in line to see it though considering it was tourist season. It was really beautiful though and the Islamic architecture was so unique to any we had previously seen in Europe.

At the Alhambra

An example of the tile work throughout.

After the Alhambra and a nap, we bid Granada good-bye and it was for sure one of our favorite places. I think we are both interested in taking Spanish courses and working at the Rambutan for a summer in the future sometime because both Granada and Rambutan made such an impression on us and on our trip in general.

Our next stop in Andalusia was Sevilla.

En route to Sevilla!
We were only going to be in Sevilla for one night though because of our extension in Granada. We both knew that we wanted to walk around and then take in a Flamenco dance later in the evening because Sevilla is the birthplace of Flamenco. Apparently, my brother claims that my family is from Sevilla as well so that was exciting. Sevilla is super beautiful. We took a bus ride around town and saw such gorgeous architecture.

Mass at night!

After making dinner in the hostel, we gathered a bunch of people from the hostel and went to check out an authentic Flamenco dance. It was so unique. The dancer looks almost possessed and sad when she dances. The throaty music was really different as well.

It was something that was so moving to see and the dancer’s face has stuck with me for so long. She was so sorrowful and serious.

From Sevilla, we headed to Madrid for two nights where we really enjoyed the neighborhood our hostel was in.

This incredibly cool/freaky sculpture in the Madrid train station.

Ellie in the hostel in Madrid

The mascot of Madrid is this bear.

Madrid was much cooler than the negaive reviews it had received from our fellow travelers along the way. The neighborhood we stayed in was very hipster oriented with cute boutiques and salons and really good restaurants. I wish we could have spent longer in Madrid but since it was August, most things were closed for holidays.


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October 2008
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