Sunday, April 21, 2013

{travel|} granada, andalucía, españa

I need to catch up on my trip journals before I go to any more cities!

Granada, Spain is quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. Florence, Italy has been at the top of that list since I visited it at the age of 13, but Granada really just knocked it from its number one spot. I have never been more enchanted by a city.

Granada is a city filled with mystery and surprise. Every alleyway is a picture perfect scene with windy roads, old stone stairs, and adorable houses and businesses.

The main drag of Granada is Calle Gran Via de Colon, but taking a walk to Plaza Nueva and continuing down the road by the creek will eventually lead you to La Alhambra.

Calle Reyes

Granada is known for being extremely generous with their free tapas portions. Check out any bar, order a caña (small beer) or a copa de vino (glass of wine) and wait for the plate of tapas to come before you order anything off of the menu. You just might be able to fill up by hopping around to different bars and restaurants.

Chopitos - tiny fried cuttlefish. They are similar to calamari.

Granada is also known for its Moroccan & Arabic markets. These markets fill tiny little alleys with touristy items, leather bags, knick knacks, incense, tea shops, and more. 

One of the market entrances near the Cathedral in the center of Granada.

We went during Semana Santa (Holy/Easter Week), so we ran into a ton of procesiones. The parades in Andalusia are famous around the world. 

One of the Catholic brotherhoods parading through the streets of Granada.

Most parades ended at the Cathedral.

Although I was already enchanted by the city center of Granada, my love for this city was taken to a whole new level during our time spent in the Alhambra. It was once a Moorish palace when the Islamic leaders were in power in Spain, and then became a place for the famous post-Reconquista rulers, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel, to rule from as well.

View from the Generalife Gardens' summer palace.

Walking back down the rest of the grounds from the gardens.

View from the Alcazaba - an old fort on the grounds.

The famous Nazaries Palace. 

It is said that this was the place where Isabel and Ferdinand officially granted Christopher Columbus the go-ahead to explore the New World.

After hiking back down from the Alhambra, we went and ate some much needed tapas. After that, we went back to our hostel and relaxed until it was time for our flamenco show! We purchased a ticket earlier in the day for a flamenco show with dinner and a drink for 35 euros at a restaurant called Jardines de Zoraya. I highly recommend that you check out this show if you visit Granada. Andalusia is known for its huge flamenco culture. This restaurant seems to be one of the best places to go to get a glimpse of it in Granada. Check out all of the TripAdvisor reviews as well!

The show was intimate and passionate, and the food was great. What more can you ask for?

Another cool thing about this restaurant is the location. It was a five minute walk to the "Mirador de San Nicolas," a famous place to get a great view of the Alhambra day or night.

So magical.

Trip overview:
  • Travel Connections: We took a 5 1/2 hour Alsa bus ride from Madrid. I don't think that the speedy Ave trains travel to Granada, so a train ride takes just about as long as a bus. We then took a bus to Cordoba.
  • Where we stayed: Funky Meridiano - great location in the city center with a friendly staff. We stayed in a four-girl room (which worked out for us because it turned into a private room). The room was clean, but there was only one plug that would fit our adapters. One other plug existed in the room, and it barely just fit my Spanish phone's plug. The wifi signal was also very weak inside of our room. These were definite annoyances, but not a reason to completely discount this place. 3/5.
  • Highlights of my trip: Tapas. Alhambra. Flamenco show and dinner at Jardines de Zoraya. Wandering the streets and exploring.

I did not have nearly enough time to fully explore beautiful Granada during our two days there. I can't wait to go back again someday.

Look out for new blog posts on the following cities soon: Cordoba, Sevilla, London, and Valencia. :) 

Monday, April 8, 2013

{life} five things

1. Homemade Pad Thai and an ice-cold beer - sometimes it is all you need to make a bad week better.

2. You know what makes a bad week even better? Getting pictures from a kitty photoshoot from your best friend. Yes, my best friend is a cat lady... and I love everything about it. World, meet Princess Nala!

3. 23 is not a very big milestone, but everything is cause for a celebration!

4. A picnic with wine, cheese, olive oil, bread, and grapes bought from a market & great friends

5. I miss GRANADA, Andalusia.

xx, Jen

Thursday, April 4, 2013

{read} lunar chronicles - fairy tales with a futuristic twist

Do you like fairy tales? Did you enjoy The Hunger Games series? If you answered yes to either of those questions, I just might be able to suggest a new series for you to fall in love with.


I am a superrrrrrrrrr cheap-o when it comes to buying books for my Kindle, especially now that I live in Spain. It is horrible, but I would rather download the badly written free books to pass the time, than spend money on a book these days. 

As I was perusing my usual "best of free books" section of the Kindle store, I came across an option to download Chapters 1-5 of a book called Cinder (about a futuristic Cinderella.) After Googling it, I found a website that recommended it to people who enjoyed The Hunger Games series. And man, oh man, the first five chapters did not disappoint! I immediately downloaded the rest of the book - splurging for the $7.99 purchase ;).

I finished Cinder in two days and then looked up other books by the author, Marissa Meyer. I found out that she has one more full-length novel and two short stories that tie in with the novels. The Cinder story continues into her new book Scarlet (about a futuristic Little Red Riding Hood.) Her short stories can both be read on for free. Glitches is a short prequel to the Cinder story and The Queen's Army should be read before diving into Scarlet. I haven't read Glitches yet, but the Queen's Army is just as good as her two full-length novels!

Here is the book description from Amazon for Cinder:
"Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future."

Andddd for Scarlet:
"Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner."

I'm about 40% through Scarlet so far and can't stop reading it either. I highly recommend this series if you are looking for a fun, new read. Download Chapers 1-5 to your Kindle for free from Amazon & check it out. :)

Have you read the Lunar Chronicles yet? What do you think about them?

PS. Pictures from my trip coming soon - I had so much fun!!!

xx, Jen