Submitted by Cheska Limjuco, Global Ambassador in Madrid, Spain
On my last weekend in Spain, three friends and I traveled to Granada to see the famous Alhambra fortress. The bus ride on Friday night was longer than the flight from New York to London, and, after finally checking into the hostel at 2 a.m., we went to find kebabs and drinks. The Andalusians are the embodiment of true southern hospitality. Taking pity on our tired and hungry selves, the man at the kebab shop gave us free Falafels while we waited and the bar across the road gave us welcome chupitos on the house.
The next morning, we set out for La Alhambra. Words or pictures cannot describe the beauty of the ancient royal palace of the Islamic kingdom. I’m happy that we not only got to see the entire fortress, but also had the leisure to just sit down and take in the gardens and amazing view of Granada. It made me think of how, like every capital, Madrid is too fast paced and, although she is my ideal and favorite city, once in a while we all need a slow paced retreat to reflect a little bit upon our lives.
After exploring the Alhambra, we retreated to the Albayzin to shisha and drink Moroccan tea. The vibe in Granada made us feel as if we were in Saudi Arabia at times, but it was more Sex and the City 2 rather than Scheherazade and 1001 Nights. After feeling extremely full and heavy after couscous, shisha, and tea, we returned to our hostel to partake in our favorite Spanish tradition – la siesta. I highly recommend Oasis Hostel as it is right in the heart of the Albayzin surrounded by souks and numerous tea shops. You can also hear traditional Muslim prayers during sundown and sunrise.
At around 8:45, with new friends from the hostel, we switched to Spanish mode and watched the Spain vs. France futbol game at a tapas bar. I’m not a huge fan of futbol, but where else in the world can you pay 2 euros for a beer and a huge and delicious plate of food? This was when I decided that I would move to Granada! However, that was only a passing fancy. I cannot deny myself the rapid city life and it felt great to be back in Madrid the next day after a relaxing weekend with girlfriends. I felt ready and recharged for my last week of school.
I grew up in both Davao and Mindanao in the Philippines, where we have a majority Muslim population, as well as Manila, which has a very strong Spanish influence. The south of Spain offers the best of both worlds for me, so you definitely know where to find me if the world ends in 2012! I have been fortunate enough to visit the south of France and Italy. I find Cannes too luxurious for a starving student like myself, and although Naples has the same southern hospitality, Andalucia is more of an escape to an exotic destination.
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