[Travel] Winding back time’s reckless hands

The title is self-explanatory for it is true my “time” has gotten its hand on too many a stuff that it now no longer recognizes from where it parted and to which haven it has arrived. The number of blogs I’ve posted in the past month on my so-called up-to-date cyber life, as you might have noticed, or not- I may say, reflects painfully all that time has swallowed up. Nevertheless, ‘better late than never’ and so I tell myself, patting my french-worn brain on the back so that it may cough up a memory or two from a month ago. And very much in the matter of a book that falls accidently to the ground, rendering a random page curiously visible to the eye…my brain draws memories from a magician’s hat: here are some excerpts:
” ….’We’re going to Spain..ahhh’. Still tired from my first mid-term of the semester, I rejoiced a bit less than I would have wanted to, considering the day, for which we had been so scrupulously planning, finally came. The afternoon of Friday, Feb.22nd, Julie, Allison and I, unmistakably tourist-looking set off to Paris for our same-day flight to Barcelona. We had found a frugal-student-designated ticket from RyanAir, and it was only with our experience that we understood the depth of “you get what you pay for”. After a 2-hour train from Nantes to Paris, a 1.5-hour bus from Paris to the airport, an 1- hour delay, an ironically short 1-hour flight, another 1.5-hour bus from the airport to Barcelona, and arriving at the hostel 2 am in the morning, we used the lights of our cellphones as we guided ourselves through our shared hostel room passing 3 snoring apparently-guys comforter-covered lumps. Battered like dough in a pizza shop, we passed out like newborn babies despite the sketchy conditions…
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‘Attention les filles, everyone who has returned from Spain has a story about being if not robbed than pick-pocketed’ This pre-departure warning from almost every experienced person to whom we had talked, rendered our first day walking on Las Ramblas, the main touristic, grand street in Barcelona, a bit paranoid. I had shorten the length of my long messenger bag so that it would place nicely in front of me; Julie, despite feeling awkward, wore her backpack to her stomach, and Allison’s passport was to the point of being bended in half at the end of trip because it never left the front-waist of her pants. Our paranoia was soon enough overcome by the energetic ambiance of Spain, so different and unique from that of France. The vibrant colors were part of a feast to our eyes: of flowers, of clothes, of shoes, of the fruits, of the people-spectacles lined along Las Ramblas, whether it be a Spanish queen dressed in laced blue-as-the-blue-sky gown flapping her flamingo-hued fan, or a gold-metallic-sprayed robot man squeaking a pose at each clink of a coin. Even the markets here were different, the vendors, with their tanned skin, and southern-nature tongue, seemed to me more down-to-earth; the food, the fruits shoned the warm climate of the south giving each market we visited an energy inexplicably unsimilar to that of the french markets. We diverted our eyes from shop to shop…until our pupils could but fix on the multi-colored swirls of gelato gleaming and calling our names. And so for breakfast we had, for only half the price of the french ones and competitively delicious, each, 2 scoops on a cone….”
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Barcelona engraved in me the memories of long walks along Olympic 1992 sites, furnicular rides up breathtaking views of the city, the colorful jaw-dropping fountain-music extravaganza and most notably my favorite, Park Guell, one of the many architectural innovations of Gaudi, he who gave Barce. its creative, and modern vibe. The rocks lined up into curved lines, creating a cave-like alignment and giving visitors the ambiance of a moorish world. And yet, the uniqueness of the colorfully diverse mosaic ceramic from ceilings, to walls, to sculptures is second to none in style..
I followed the worm-like swiggles that was my handwriting along the backside of a postcard as we galloped away in a bus to the airport near Barcelona the afternoon of the 24th. The next stop would be Granada, our entry into Andalusia, the southern parts of Spain. Ryanair proved to be a worth-it purchase with its incomparably cheap prices, we figured the length, the delay would save enough for a meal or two in our week-long trip. The bus ride through center town Granada once again had us displaced in our mindset… Andalusia was nothing like Barcelona, let alone France. The descent of latitude in Spain coincides not only with a warmer climate, but also an earthier setting, people of darker skin-tones, and deeper lines, of more vibrant expressions, and a laid-back atmosphere. The houses lined unevenly, a red roof dominating another less of hue, along streets that became more or less luring due to the light cloud of dust – an ambiance that brought to my mind images of home. I was biased in my opinion, I thought, if nostalgic reminiscence arose from this place, yet I would soon discover that I liked Andalusia for its charm and would easily recommend it to anyone in search of a Spanish conquest. Now here begun a real vacation I thought as we slept chinese-food tummy-filled our first night in Granada…”
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In front of me lies a giant asleep, his back curved to create a hyperbole, to which the sky made a parallel line…he has been deep in his dreams for so long that you can see sporadically across his spine, patches of green trees, and lines of unleveled houses tipping to the uncertain incline of the being entrenched in his overdue siesta. The wind whistles gently and cotton-balls of cloud danced through as if to the tune of the giant’s million-year lullaby. We spent a whole day in Alhambra, the historical site of Granada that overlooked this picturesque, white-house lined hilltop. A small city in itself, Alhambra comprised of fortified walls, of ruins and above all of Islamic architectural-influenced palaces (as Andalusia was under Islamic influence just until before the appearances of Catholic Kings in Spain). The amount of detail render the eyes weary after a while and you can but gape and wonder how the past achieved these ingenuous works….”
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Allison’s 21st birthday was on the 26th and Julie was going to have to leave the next day, thus we set out to find mojitos so that A could have her proper corner-turn-of-life exposure-to-alcohol moment…also Julie and I just liked the mint taste. Unfortunately, people in Spain have the weirdest habits, as follows: wake up around 10, have breakfast around 11, 12…have lunch around 4pm, have dinner around 10pm and then go out after 2am. During the entire trip, we always were hungry before 9 but wanting the ambiance of people in a restaurant setting, we often starved until 10. Yet back to the story, we, thus found ourselves in this place with lively salsa music but only a bartender and 2 of her friends. She made us amazing mojitos, with fresh mint while we watched her several friends dance salsa in the middle of the empty dancefloor. After a while, we found ourselves on the dancefloor learning these basic latin dance steps, we survived only 10 minutes more when the rapidity of their heel-wearing feet astonishingly outdid our sneakers….”
” No habla ingles. Yes we were quick to realize people in Spain D’ONT speak english…not even at a minimum level. We had a quick print-out sheet of common spanish phrases to try to swim a bit, but when it came to ordering food in the restaurants, you were better off wishing your luck was good that day. The spanish food, most of the dishes we had though, were delicious and very affordable for our budgeted pockets. The tapas, 3 of which can feel your tummy and be only around 7 Euros, are traditional Spanish little almost appetizer-like dishes. They give you a bit of taste of everything. There were the paellas too, which are traditionally made rice with different kinds of meat…The Spanish gastronomy, nevertheless, for me could never have compared to that of the French. There are less greens and more filling food like rice and meat, the meals are proportionally much heavier.It has more oil in substance, more fried food and at times is dryer which can become an undesired thirst-booster under the Andalusian sun…”
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“The bus rides from Granada to Cordoba and Seville the next 4 days were the most scenic and inexpensive I had ever experienced. The Spanish countryside are filled with hills, across which are lines and lines of trees squarely parallel one to the next, like a chessboard typographical map. We found in Cordoba as in Seville, this continuation of Islamic influences in different beautiful breathtaking palaces and churches such as the Mezquita in Cordoba or the Alcazar in Seville, but each with its own uniqueness. Seville confirmed my previous preconceptions of bullfights, Spanish senoras wearing colorful dresses, the sound of horseshoes against a stone-cobbled streets, the sound of a guitar serenading…okay I exaggerate. I saw these images everywhere as in pictures and postcards, I got to visit a bullfighting ring…I saw many carts led by horses but at the price of 50 Euros for a ride and I did hear the guitar but they were more like homeless people than ole-shouting valiant spanish dudes….”
To be continued….
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