|This morning Paul and I headed to Granada via bus. The bus ride was really nice, and the five hours we spent aboard the ALSA bus didn't feel too long at all. I was able to get about an hour and a half of sleep right when we left, which I think I really needed. I spent the majority of my time awake playing Spider Solitaire on an app and listening to "Chandelier" by Sia. I heard the song while I was watching "La voz" last night on public Spanish television, and I remember liking the song, so I started researching YouTube videos last night of Sia's performances, and now I'm obsessed with the song. I wish I had a window seat on the right side of the bus while we headed down to Granada, because the views of the mountains were absolutely stunning. I tried to get some pictures from my left side aisle seat, as you'll se below, but they don't hardly do justice to what I was seeing. We drove in and out of valleys between gorgeous mountains, and there were literally miles and miles and miles of olive bushes lining both sides of the highway. I was surprised to see so many bushes considering that this part of Spain appears to be mostly desert-like terrain, but the olives were everywhere. It was easily the most scenic trip I've had yet, and I hope to get a better seat on the return trip to Madrid on Saturday.
We arrived to our apartment in Granada without any problems. We had done some research earlier this week and booked the apartment on airbnb.com, which is literally the best thing to ever come to traveling. It was so easy to find the place and decided that yes, we wanted to stay here, and the confirmation of booking was instant. We're both really pleased with this place. It's nice, spacious, and has all the amenities that you'd expect to find in an apartment. Paul had decided that our first stop after dropping our luggage off in the apartment was to find a shawarma to fill us up. The place he had in mind is really close to our apartment, so it was a quick walk to find the place where I'd soon be eating one of the most amazing things I've ever tried. I didn't know what to expect with a shawarma, but Paul and Marianne had built it up so much that I knew I had to give it a try. I'd say it's close to eating a burrito from Chipotle, but it's nothing like a burrito from Chipotle. It's much more fresh. It was amazing, and I've decided we're going there tomorrow after we visit La Alhambra and then again before we leave on Saturday. We were planning to take the shawarmas to go and then eat them back at the apartment, but mine didn't even make it across the street. I devoured it within minutes. Also, as a pre-appetizer to the shawarma, the restaurant owner gave us a filafel, which also rocked my world. Man, I love food.
After finishing the shawarmas, taking a quick siesta, and freshening up, we decided to head to the Catedral de Granada located nearby. I'm always surprised at how big the cathedrals and churches are on the inside, because from the outside they don't look as big. The cathedral that we went into was nothing short of stunning. The pillars located throughout were thick and tall, and I was really taken in by them. There were tons of ornate structures that included a lot of gold embossing, and this was a theme that was repeated throughout the cathedral. There were two sets of pipes in the middle of the church, and they were the biggest ones I've ever seen in my life. I don't know that the pictures below (which I'm not sure I was allowed to take, but everyone was doing it, so...) will do justice to the grandeur of the pipes, but hopefully you can see from my perspective how enormous they are. For another 4 €, we were able to go into La Capilla Real, which houses the remains of King Fernando and Queen Isabel. It was unsettling to walk down into the crypt and peek into this vault-like area where you see two long caskets (and they look like ones you'd see in a vampire movie) where you know are the remains of two of the most influential people in Spain's history—maybe even the world.
Once we finished up at La Capilla, we strolled up Carrera del Darro to see more of Granada and hopefully catch a glimpse of La Alhambra. I have to give props to the city of Granada for being so incredibly clean. The streets here are beautiful. The sidewalks are made of this large, slippery stone that I couldn't stop raving about. Even the light fixtures on the street lamps are artistically beautiful. Something I've never seen before is that the crosswalks light up when it's time for patrons to cross the road—like there are individual lights in the road that turn on indicating this is where people walk and that it's okay for them to do so. It's really cool. To take a break from walking around Granada, we entered this tapas bar where Paul convinced me to have my first taste of boquerones, which you see in the picture here. I had to build up courage to try them because, well, look at them, but they were actually quite good once I allowed myself to get over the image of what I was eating.
To end the evening, Paul suggested we head up the hill to catch a glimpse of La Alhambra as the sun was setting, and there was no way I was going to say 'no' to that! We started from down below, where I could look up the hill and see only parts of La Alhambra towering before me, as you'll see in the pictures below. Then we started to climb the side streets, and as we got higher and higher, La Alhambra started to reveal itself more and more, until it all came into view. Its size is quite impressive as I had no idea how expansive it is! Right as we reached a terrace restaurant to sit and have a drink was when the sunset started to hit La Alhambra just right. Just seeing the incredible view of La Alhambra across from me and taking a quick moment to consider that I've been dreaming of seeing it for year, well, it got the best of me. I wouldn't say I bawled, because I was trying to maintain my composure since I was in public, but I had to take some time to myself to not talk and let some tears fall. I felt humbled and awed, and I can't wait to head up there in the morning and finally experience it.