Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Evan In Málaga And Granada: Semana Santa Edition


All of my previous trips in and outside of Spain have all had one thing in common: the weather. Some trips colder than others (Amsterdam for example) but never the less no journey with really enjoyable heat.

Alicia is from California where everything is beautiful and warm 24/7 and right by the ocean where going to the beach is easily accessible all the time. Understandably so, moving to a place like Madrid where it is landlocked and decently far from the ocean one could easily miss the water. Alica had been wanting to go to the beach forever and seeing as our last attempt in Valencia failed miserably it was time in our journey to go to somewhere warm and somewhere with an ocean.

So we decide for this trip we'd make a two day journey spending a full day and night in Malaga and then on the way home we'd stop in another famous city, Granada. Malaga was the trip where everything seemed to go right from beginning to end. The bus ride was easy and there was this instant feeling of warm beach comfort as soon as you walked off the bus. The town is essentially a beach town and has a sort of laid back feeling you would find in a place like the Jersey Shore where it is populated in the summer time and very slow during the winter. This was essentially the first trip where I felt like I was on "vacation" aka not doing anything but laying around and relaxing. I loved it.

Look mom, look dad, I finally found Hotel California!

Semana Santa

So during this travel time an event is going on through Spain called Semana Santa or Holy Week. This is an annual celebration that happens, for a week, yes I said a week, which commemorates the Passion Of Jesus Christ with a gigantic parade thrown by the more religious brotherhood and fraternal Christians of the Catholic religion. It is essentially a week long Easter event with less eggs and more Jesus.

The full on celebration is held in some towns in Spain but not all which means depending on where you live you might not even realize it is going on. Madrid doesn't really do anything big for it and by the time we left for Malaga it was towards the end of Semana Santa and frankly I had forgotten about it. 

Since we only had the night in Malaga before we left for Granada, Alicia and I decide to just explore the small town a little bit and see what it had to offer. Our hostel, which was by the beach was a bit away from the town center and as we got closer, we both heard loud noises from the distance and saw a lot of lights. We were about to walk into the Semana Santa parade. A stumbling into this Spanish cultural experience was truly wonderful. Up until this point the only other cultural celebration I got to experience in Spain was Fallas a couple months back and I've always been eager to observe more culture celebrations abroad. So it was truly a wonderful experience seeing all of this go down.

Semana Santa is a big deal. There is just no way around it, the streets were PACKED with people on either side leaving the middle open for the parade itself. Since this is a some what small beach town I wouldn't be surprised if most of its residents were at the parade itself. Everyone so happy and cheerful and the parade went on. 

The parade itself was led by a multitude vibrate colored KKK looking members. But instead of hate filled human being these guys walk in pride and tradition garnets throughout the parade. I can only imagine how annoyed they were when the KKK were doing their thing in America. In between these guys were gigantic statues depict different scenes of the bible, most of them including Jesus in some way. They were huge structures to say the least.

The craziest part is all these structures are being carried by people and not on some sort of vechile.

Like I said, the crowd was everywhere.

Even the younger kids participated!

Day 2

The people who know little about Spain will always tell you: I wanna visit Barcelona, I wanna visit Valencia, I wanna visit Madrid (*cough* me *cough*) The people who know Spain a little will tell you to visit specific places instead that they know are the gems of the country and Granada is one of them. Everyone in Madrid I talked to about visit different parts here have told me I need to make it out to Granada, I just have to do it. So when we realized that Granada is in fact on the way back to Madrid from Malaga we took the opportunity to the experience the city first hand.

Unfortunately, we didn't exactly plan on Granada to well and as we found out very quickly it isn't one of those cities where you can just show up and figure things out from there especially if you're only visiting for a day. Running on very little sleep due to being up really late and enjoying Semana Santa the night before we arrived in Granada with really only one goal: to see the world famous Alhambra. Usually a bunch of research goes into what we want to do in a city we visit but this time all we really knew was this place to go to. So playing the day by ear we set out to take a very nice long walk from the train station through the city and through a park straight to the Alhambra.

Granada has a very Muslim feel throughout the city due to the Moorish people who controlled the area along time ago. There is a very strong Marrakech feel to some parts of the city we walked past.

This is the beautiful entrance to the park that leads up to the Alhambra.

So while in Spain, you will have these people who will come up to you with what looks like a bunch of weeds in their hands trying to sell you them for some money. Usually, homeless but "spiritual" women trying to sell you on the value of it. Alicia and I have been very good in the past at avoiding these people. Maybe it was the day, maybe it was because we were tired, or maybe it was Granada but for whatever the reason, Alicia got pulled into a conversation with one of them. I'll have you note that I strong urged her to walk away from the situation. She did not. The women takes her hand and starts to read her palm and tells her what her future is and what her future will be like with me. Then she insists on taking my hand and uniting us as she says something in Spanish that I do not understand. She ends it by giving Alicia this flower/weed thing and then asks for money like most of these people do. I believe Alicia gives her a euro and I give her 50 cents (more than what these people usually get I'm sure) to which this women insists that her time and services are worth 5 euros. 5 euros for saying a couple words and giving Alicia and glorified weed. So we laugh and walk away and this women flips a lid. Luckily her bark was worst than her bite. I think Alicia had learned her lesson after that and it made me reflect thinking how lucky we were that our first experience with something like this occurred in Spain and not Morocco where the viciousness could have gone in a different direction.

There was this beautiful system I was obsessed with for when it rained that pushed the water down hill and looked very pretty at the same time. Very clever and something I may adapt in my future house.

Dare to enter the unknown..

La Alhambra

Normally this is the part where I give a short explanation as to what the site I'm visiting is/a brief history. I'm going to reserve that for another time though for the sole reason that we didn't even get a chance to go inside. The biggest attraction in Granada and one of the most important attractions to the Muslim culture in Spain we should have known that on Semana Santa, a time of year where everyone in Spain travels it would be packed.

As you can see here there is a long line to get tickets. We arrived sometime around 9:30/10 to pick up a ticket to visit the site only to find out that all the tickets were sold out until night time which we wouldn't be around for. It was super disappointing to not be able to visit the only real thing we planned on visiting while in Granada but whatcha gonna do?

This was a cool waiting area to get inside.

Since our bus home wasn't until 4 or 5 we decided to take advantage of this beautiful day we had in early spring by walking around Granada and seeing what the streets had to offer.

Quick stop for some deliciously ice cream of course.

Catedral de Granada

A lot of things weren't available to us to visit due to it being a holiday but we did stumble upon Granada's big Cathedral. You know you'd think at this point that we are both super religious Christians by the amount of Cathedrals we have visited this year. To be honest I think Cathedrals are a really good representations on how the culture of the town or the country depict art and architecture and for the most part every one we've seen has been built differently and the insides although having the same themes are presented in different ways.

While walking to the Cathedral and enjoying our ice cream we ran into a person playing a hang drum. For those of you who don't know this is by far my favorite instrument in the world. So inspired in fact that I made one out of a propane tank last year. For those of you who don't know, this is what an official hang drum looks like:

Picture is from google images and is not mine.

If you go and youtube hang drums you will notice that these instruments are incredible beautiful and really moving. Although I never considered it before it was a really great setting to hear this instrument being played right outside of this Cathedral.

Probably my favorite shot of the trip. 

Malaga was wonderful. You can tell that there isn't too much to do there but if your just looking to plan a nice trip to the beach I'd recommend going there. It's beautiful and not too busy so you have room to do whatever you want. I definitely need to return to Granada again because I just think we didn't plan it right. Every raves about it and how amazing it is and I feel like we only discovered the shell to what the city has to offer. I'm so grateful I went but a return is needed.

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