Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spain


April 27, 2013 1:40 PM—Algeciras, Spain

This morning I had to set off really early in order to get to the port in time for the ferry. Despite what I thought when I made all my arrangements months ago, the port to get to Algeciras is an hour's drive from Tangier. So my hotel served me breakfast at 6:30 and they had a taxi come to get me at 7. Even though it would have been nice not to drive an hour, the drive was beautiful. We were driving along the coast on these windy coastal roads. So for most of the journey I could see the water crashing up on the shore.

When I arrived at the port I had to get my ticket and go through customs. Then I waited for a bus to take me to the boat itself. Even though the bus drivers and the buses were sitting there and despite the fact that there were plenty of people waiting to go, we waited about 30 minutes to actually get on the buses and go. Morocco may seem very different, but it is still Africa.

I was one of the first people on the boat and I found a seat and waited to leave. Even though we were supposed to leave at 9, we didn't actually leave until around 10. I was previously told when I booked my ticket that the ferry takes 3 hours and that I would arrive around noon. So considering we left late, I assumed we would arrive late. However, I think they were just over-compensating for the fact that they knew the ferry would leave late, because we arrived in Algeciras at around 11:30. Although it may have to do with something I discovered later on.

It took a while to get through customs, so by the time I got a taxi and got to the train station it was around 1 PM. The first thing I did when I got here was activate my rail pass and check the train time. I guess I pictured there being more here. I was hungry when I was on the boat, but I thought I would just get some food in the train station. They actually have a cafe and a restaurant, but they are shut down and look like they have been that way for years. So I ventured outside for food considering I thought I had about 3 hours to kill. I soon found a place that looked like it served pizza and burgers just down the street. When I went in I attempted to order what I thought was a burger. I actually have no idea what I ate, but it was good and I'm no longer hungry. I guess this is the conundrum of me not speaking much Spanish and the worker there not speaking much English. What I had was a sandwich that I think had a chicken patty on it (it was 100% synthetic, of course) and some other vegetables. I also had fries with some sort of sauce on them (not sure what it was). I even had a soda in a can. This is something I haven't had in over 2 years and it never even occurred to me until today. After eating I made my way back to the train station.

I find it funny brushing up on my Spanish now. When I think about asking someone for something, in my mind it first comes out in part Spanish and part Runyankore. For example, when I was going to ask for the bathroom, in my mind I first thought “El bano nkahi?” Then I really had to think about the word for “where” in Spanish and it eventually came out “Donde esta el bano?”

Algeciras is a peculiar little town. When I went to get food, it appeared that most businesses were closed. In fact, the place I ate lunch closed immediately after I left. I guess this is because it is Saturday afternoon, but the place was basically a ghost town.

As I was sitting in the train station writing all this on my computer, I was thinking it is almost 2 PM, so I have a couple hours until my train leaves. As it turns out I was quite wrong and I was lucky I made the train at all. A women who works at the train station came up to me and asked me in Spanish where I was going. When I told her Granada she had this tone of urgency in her voice and I just didn't understand why. I thought maybe she was trying to get me on an earlier train (although I thought my train was the next one). I asked if the train was still at 3:55 and she said it was and started pointing at the clock. Somehow I missed the fact that there is a 2 hour time difference between Morocco and Spain. This same thing happened the first time I went to Rwanda, but at least this time it only took me about 2 hours to figure out and not 2 days. How I missed this, I'm not sure. But I will tell you one thing...there is never a dull moment.


April 28, 2013 3:45 PM—Granada

I arrived in Granada last night at about 8 PM. It actually stays light out here until around 10 PM. So even though it was somewhat late I still managed to find my hostel before dark. Granada is also a pretty happening place at that hour. Again, I really scored with my hostel. This one is right in the middle of Granada. I also thought I was getting a room with a shared bathroom, but I ended up getting a self contained room. I don't even think they have rooms here without a private bathroom. One thing though is that the bathroom is literally the smallest bathroom I've ever seen. When you use the toilet the sink is practically in your lap and the shower stall is barely big enough for me. However, I'm not complaining. I really like my little room with my little bathroom. It is perfect for me.

My room

My tiny bathroom

This morning I got up and out pretty early. I started by heading to the Alhambra, which is an ancient fortress. I love walking around early on a Sunday morning. As many people as were out and about last night, there was nobody out this morning. When I started to leave the Alhambra it was fully raining. It is also really cold here. I saw something that said it was 9 degrees Celsius, so I guess that is somewhere in the 40's on the Fahrenheit scale. I'm so not used to this. Because it was raining I went back to my hostel to get my umbrella and get myself together. Afterwards I went to the Capilla Real, which is a chapel next to the Cathedral. This is where Fernando and Isabel, the christian monarchs on the throne when Spain conquered Granada in 1492, are buried. After seeing that I went and got some lunch. While I was eating it started raining again so I decided to go back to my hostel again and just hang out for a while.

The desolate square this morning

The Alhambra


Alcazaba

The Cathedral


The view of Granada from the Alcazaba

I think I'll go to the Cathedral soon and possibly make my way to the other side of town to see Albayzin, which is the old moorish quarter across from the Alhambra. We'll have to see how cold it is out. Otherwise, I think I'll eventually get dinner tonight and I'll have to pack my stuff up. Tomorrow I'm heading to Seville and then on to Portugal the next day.

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