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Cádiz, la ciudad que sonríe August 10, 2010

Posted by Maziar Adloo in Travel Log.
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Thursday, June 24th

All good things must come to an end, they say. I say no, I don’t want it to. For that reason, oh readers of mine, I have postponed studying for tomorrow’s final to write this. Maybe if I don’t study for it, it won’t happen and our time here won’t end…

Last week was a short week; we only had class Monday through Wednesday. However, that was so our class could take an extended field trip to explore the other famous cities in Andalucía. Andalucía is a very gorgeous place. They have the slogan “Andalucía: solo hay una,” which translates to “Andalucia: there’s only one,” and it couldn’t be more true. As we travel from one province to another, the hills are alternately covered with thousands of olive trees or millions of sunflowers, and each sight is breathtaking to behold.

After our bus ride on Thursday, we arrived in Granada. We spent a couple hours walking around and discovered, among other things, a monument/fountain with giant pomegranates, which was simply gorgeous. (Granada means pomegranate, so they had made the piece to show their pride for their city.) Later that afternoon, we went to Granada’s main cathedral, la Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación. We took a break for dinner [Readers, order the Taj Mahal (spicy chicken) at the Kabab King at the corner of la Plaza Nueva. That is an unarguable point.], and met up at 9:30 to catch a bus to the Albaicín. The Albaicín is the old Muslim living district in Granada. (Two things you learn about cities in southern Spain: they have an old section and a new section, and they have both old Muslim architecture and slightly newer but still pretty ancient Christian architecture.) Close to the Albaicín, there’s an area known only as las Cuevas, inhabited traditionally by gypsies. That night, we were taken into one of those caves and were treated to an almost opera-like flamenco performance; I was even picked as a volunteer at the end and got to dance with the super fine baile! The next morning, we visited the stunning la Alhambra, which is a castle, palace, summer home, and gardens all rolled into one. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in Muslim art/architecture or anyone looking to see something beautiful.

After our visit, we left for Sevilla and had the afternoon to ourselves. We spent a couple hours walking around the city and ended up grabbing some tapas close to la Torre de Oro. Later that night, we met for dinner at a restaurant on the original Río Grande, el Río Guadalquivir. The next morning, we went to the grandiose Catedral de Santa María de la Sede. After a while, the cathedrals start to run together, but this one stood out for two reasons: it has a 35 flight tower that you can climb to oversee the entire city, and it has Christopher Columbus’ beastly grave. After the cathedral, we took a detour to see los Alcázares, the used-to-be palace of the region’s caliph during Muslim reign; though the architecture was nice, the gardens of this palace were extensive and absolutely incredible.

Sunday, we traveled to Córdoba to see la Mezquita. This grand monument started off as a mosque, was partially converted into a church, and then made into a museum (that still holds mass on Sunday at the main altar). Of all the sites we visited on our mini-trip, la Mezquita was my favorite; not only was the design of the building and its interior gorgeous, but it also had character. We returned on Sunday in time to hit the beach for a few hours and eat dinner with our family.

Other than the Festival of los Juanillos, which involves the burning of sculptures made by Cádiz artists usually as a type of social or political commentary and a firework show on la Caleta, this week has mostly been spent soaking up as much sun as we can and studying for our finals that are tomorrow. I don’t want it to end, but I know it has to. These last four weeks have truly been bastinazo and the most amazing of my entire life, and I am extremely thankful for such a wonderful opportunity. With this joy, with this excitement, I’ll head home, but I’ll never forget la Tacita de Plata.

Cádiz, la ciudad que sonríe, te dejo con una sonrisa.

Amor para siempre,

Maz

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