El Escorial, Cordoba, and Granada

October 20, 2012 - Granada, Spain

The weekend after I went to Morocco I stayed in Madrid and did a day trip with my class to El Escorial.  This is where the crypt is for all of the past Kings and Queens of Spain.  The building on the outside doesn’t appear too grand, but it is huge, with four huge court yards with in it, as well as an incredible church.  The only downside was that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside, even though I did sneak a few!  The art collections of the Spanish Royals were also on display throughout the huge palace which were really cool.  The best part however was the crypt.  It was located directly below the altar and when you walked down, it opened up into this circular room of black marble accented with gold.  Within the walls were the dead bodies of all of the past kings and queens that I have been learning about.  In a side room were the past King and Queen of Spain whose bodies must decompose for like thirty years or so before they are moved into the stone caskets that go into the wall of the crypt.  There was also this birthday cake like structure that held the dead bodies of all of the royal children that didn’t make it to adult hood.  It was really creepy!!  I also saw the most beautiful carving of the crucifixion out of the purest white marble from Italy.  It was from the Renaissance time period, so it was idealistic with his figure perfectly carved.

The next weekend I went to Cordoba and Grandad again with my school.  The cool parts about this trip were that it was 1. FREE 2. ORGANIZED by someone other than me and 3. With EVERYONE from Boston College in Madrid.  It was really nice to not have to research and find out where everything I wanted to see was, and just get to sit back and have our teacher take us around to all of the really cool historical stuff, and tell us all about it!

In Cordoba we went to the Mosque, the most famous building in Cordoba.  In my pictures it is the one with all of the arcs that are red and white striped.  The cool part was that I had learned about this Mosque in my Art class in September, it is the best when you learn something in the class room, and then can actually go out there and see it.  I have never really had this opportunity before, with the exception of science classes, where you see what you are doing in the lab, but this is way different.  With in the middle of this Mosque the Christians built a church, directly in the center of it.  It was then that I realized how horrible the Christians have been in the past, and how disrespectful.  There is no worse sign of disrespect then taking a religious center/ place of worship for a group of people, and building your own right on top of it.  I was very appalled by the Catholic Church in this instant, even though the basilica was beautiful and very impressive.  We left and got back on the bus, which we had been on for about 5 hours already in the morning, and headed to Granada another 3 hours away.  The bus ride through the south of Spain was beautiful, with fields and rolling hills that looked like corduroy from the way they planted the trees.

Granada was beautiful even though it rained basically the entire time we were there.  It was a nice, cute little town that was easy to navigate.  You could really see the Morocco influences as well, with Kabab places that were delicious, and vendors selling items I saw when I was in Morocco.  This part of the trip felt like a high school sleep away trip, especially when we broke up into groups for rooms and were left on our own for dinner.  The guys and the girls ended up splitting up, but of course we still ended up at the same restaurant, just sitting at tables right across from each other, it was hilarious.  We had a low key night after dinner and Orla, Susan, Grace and I ended up just wandering around the streets for awhile.  We were also attacked by a vampire, who scared the living daylights out of Susan.  It was great, he came up along side of her with his cape pulled up to his mouth and when she turned to see who it was she just screamed so loud, and he walked away very satisfied with himself.  It was the weekend before Halloween, so it made sense that he was dressed up, it wasn’t just random.  The next day we explored Al-Hambra with our own personal tour guide.  Al-Hambra is this walled-in section of the city where royals used to live along with some military and staff/general people.  It was huge placed on top of the mountain side, with the military/protection section first.  The gardens and palaces were so beautiful as well.  It was here that Washington Irving wrote the Tales of Alhambra that brought tourist especially from the US to Alhambra, which at that time had been deserted and left to rot.  It was his influence and tales that led to the restoration of this historic site and has brought so much tourism to Granada.  After our tour was over a group of us went exploring and got to the top of the tower belonging to one of the military buildings.  From there we had one of the most beautiful views of the city.  It was really awesome to visit here as well, because we learned about the palaces within Alhambra in our Art class as well.  That afternoon we went to the baths which were very different from the baths I went to in Morocco.  In Morocco people go to the baths to get a very good washing and you basically stand there in a shower stall with four other people washing yourself with water from a bucket, olive oil soap, and this mitts that scrape all of the dead skin off of your body.  In Granada, the baths we went to were more like hot pools of water that we got to sit in and relax while drinking delicious Moroccan mint tea.  It was kind of like sitting in bath water with all your friends, slightly awkward, but definitely relaxing.  That night all of us went out together, all thirty of us.  A group did get separated, but we were together for the most part.  At one point in the night someone had the idea that we should go to the downstairs part of the club where no one else was.  Down there we basically had our own private room and could really hangout with all of the people in our program in a relaxed, fun setting.  We don’t normally get to do that because when everyone is in Madrid we are all over the place, so it was nice to all be together having a good time.  The next day we went to the church where Queen Isabel and King Fernando II were buried.  They are a huge deal in Spanish history, they were the King and Queen that united Spain during the reconquest against the Muslims.  Granada was the final city they took in 1492, the same year that they sent Columbus on his mission to find a better trade route to India.  Since they are so important and we have learned so much about them, it was really cool to see their crypt.  After a tour of some other parts of the city we found this little market that had an amazing view of Alhambra.  It was beautiful.  At the market there was a guy selling spoon and fork rings.  I was literally so excited, I have wanted a fork ring for awhile now, but just haven’t found one to buy!!  So, for ten euros I bought myself an awesome fork ring!  It was a great way to end my time in Granada.

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November 11, 2012
Sounds like yor still enjoying yourself. Hope you school work is doing well.
Uncle John:
November 13, 2012
Very cool stuff! Stay safe and can not wait to see you when you are back in the states.

uncle john and aunt barbara
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