Archive for December, 2008

30 Dec 2008

Christmas comes but once a year…

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>And thank god for that! We stuffed ourselves like artichokes, on artichokes, prepared by Jeanne, who arrived from London. Jeanne that is, not the artichokes.

Santa came and joined the festivities. By the end of the night he was looking kind of burnt out.

Pressies. I love pressies.
And everyone got presents on Christmas day; not in the Spanish tradition, being January 6, but ours. For me, Santa personally delivered a box of chocolate angels – you bite the heads off first, then the wings… Yum. And a book “The Book of Chameleons” narrated by a lizard. Who’d have thought it? People write the strangest things!
Jeanne and Gill take to the streets of Granada
We took a stroll through Granada on Christmas day and the whole of Granada strolled with us, as we wandered through the streets, Belen viewing and people watching. It was a glorious day.

And now we are weaving our way through the Andalucian countryside, jaws clenched as we careen down impossible mountain roads. Stay tuned!

22 Dec 2008

Giraffe spotting in Granada

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To the Magnificent Seven, who have spent all week playing with the Big Five in the South Africa, let it be known that a wild Giraffe outbreak is underway in the streets of Granada.

19 Dec 2008

The bad – because there has to be something bad to say about Granada.

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Great views but be careful where you tread!

Living in the Albaicin is different to … well anywhere else actually. It is always still a surprise to peek around a corner and see the Sierra Nevada ranges all snowy and so close you feel you could almost reach out and touch them, but you have to be careful because if you walk nonchalantly, taking in the views, checking out the interesting architecture, smiling and saying “hola” to everyone who passes by, you will almost certainly tread in a dog turd, or several. The pathways of the Albaicin are like an obstacle course, best tackled carefully and wearing enclosed shoes.

Also, everything you do in the Albaicin requires planning. The roads are steep and with no possibility of a vehicle, even a simple trip to the supermarket requires judicious planning, taking care to buy only small items and only essentials – wine, sangria, cava (champagne) cheese and chorizo! I am not sure the Albaicin will ever have a Costco store.

Unfortunately there is a large graffiti problem. Every wall that is not falling down and many are; they bow and sag and look like that might come tumbling down any second, has been tagged. There is a large anti-graffiti program, but I am not sure it is working. It is not quite as bad as Berlin, where the graffiti is almost an integral part of Berlin’s architecture, but it is getting there.

Graffiti artists at large
Difficult to remove effectively

The Albaicin is quiet at night, so quiet you can hear a pin drop. In fact the only noises you can hear after midnight are OUR neighbours in the apartment directly above us as they drag and rearrange every single piece of furniture in their apartment. After a while you get used to it. I think I may even miss it when we go.

19 Dec 2008

As our Spanish progresses …

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>Well they have been immersing themselves in the Spanish culture and language so much so their English may be suffering. In the Albaicin, just down from our apartment lies the Arabian strip mall equivalent; dozens of tiny shops follow the stepped and cobbled pathway down to the city; selling spices and incense, halal produce, colourful clothes and bags, and teterias serving all sorts of exotic teas, where through the windows Granadan youth sucked away on ornate Arabian smoking pipes.

“We must try the hookahs sometime,” said Paul in a casual way.

Gill faltered in her step, “Hookers, I don’t think so!”

13 Dec 2008

“Yes” Smoking

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The Spanish smoking policy is interesting and difficult to read through the smoke.

Many places have signs saying smoking is permitted, and everyone smokes. Others – such as the restaurant we dined at today – bear signs say smoking is Not Permitted. After lunch our spritely waiter appeared and enquired if we minded if people smoked. We consented, not wishing to be singled out and within milliseconds could feel the oxygen being drained from around us as the entire restaurant, including three tables of 12 surrounding us, proceeded to light up.