When a Southsider goes Northside… of Spain

Thursday, 11 December 2008

10am: Bus – Granada -> Madrid

5pm: Bus – Madrid -> Bilbao

Lord knows how I got up for the first bus but I made it. The night before I’d gone out with Laura, Bethan, Amy, Alec and Steve for a night that turned out to be much longer than I had planned for. I’d known that Bethan was heading home on the Monday so it was going to be the last night seeing her before Christmas break. I didn’t know, however, that Steve and Amy were also due to be going on the Monday. And in typical Erasmus style what better way to celebrate our last get together as a group for 3 weeks? Boozing.

The night started with sushi which we soon found to be somewhat overpriced and unbeknownst to us, once you’ve ordered a plate as a course they stop bringing you sushi as the free tapas. Frustrated with out first stop off, we headed on to Café Oriental, a place that screams Aya on the outside but when you see the fruit machine to your right on entry, it’s somewhat evident that it’s not so up market… After a serving of noodles, dumplings and French fries (the latter being tasty but always a disappoint to me to see being served in an Asian restaurant), we headed across the road to a small more traditional Spanish tapas bar (the name of which escapes me now) wherein Amy was happy to see that the waiter who she has a keen interest in was working. Bagels and chips were served up with the drinks and the waiter made a fool of me just as we were about to leave; you know when you’re playing fetch with a dog and you go to throw the ball and you don’t actually throw it and then the dog starts furtively trying to work out “where did the ball go?” despite the fact that it’s still in your hand? Yeah well I was the dog, the bartender was the cruel owner and my change was the ball. Thankfully the bar was somewhat empty so not many witnessed my shame. Next stop was Hannigan’s where they were holding their weekly lottery where they give away random prizes in a draw where they give out 1 ticket per each pint/long drink ordered. Alec and Steve were the only ones with tickets because, unbeknownst to the rest of us, tinto de verano wasn’t included in the ticket-receiving drinks.

While in Hannigan’s Bethan brought an old Carr family Sunday dinner tradition to the table – a “game” of sorts. Well more like a conversation starter. Each person answered 5 questions:

  1. What were the high points of the semester?
  2. What were the low points of the semester?
  3. What were your achievements this semester?
  4. What were your downfalls this semester?
  5. What are you hoping to do/improve/change next semester?

Given it was a farewell get-together of sorts, it could not have been a better thing to do as it really gave us a chance to look back at everything that’s happened over the past few months. Thinking about it I’m not going to go into much more detail as I feel it deserves a blog post in its own right. To keep a long (to be elaborated on later) story short, it ended up being a night of great conversation and bonding and I’m really glad I went along for it.

I wasn’t glad, however, having to get up just before 9am to get my things together to head to the bus station to get the 10am bus to Madrid having had just over 2 hours sleep. Scary how familiat that journey has become – between the trip to Salamanca and Roisin Murphy I feel like I’ve done it a dozen times. You know your becoming a seasoned traveler in Spain when Spaniards are asking YOU where the seat numbers are marked. I clearly exude that sense of “I know what I’m doing here” 😛

Having slept a large portion of the 5 and a half hour bus journey to Madrid, I had an hour and a half to pick up a Pralines & Cream Haagen Dazs milkshake, check my email on the free wireless in the bus station (I dunno if there was supposed to be free wireless or whether some nearby business just didn’t password protect their router but I could get on!) and transfer via metro from Mendez Alvaro to Avenida de America where the bus to Bilbao was leaving from. Keeping a vigilant eye out for pickpockets after what happened to my mom in Madrid and Laura and Niamh in Barcelona, I managed to get to the station with all my possessions still on my person.

From there it was another 5 hour bus journey to the País Vasco – let the confusion commence as I struggle to understand the Basque/Euskadi language! I’ve nothing against culture and as most who know me are aware táim an-bhródúil as mo chuid Gaeilge so native languages are an incredibly big part of culture in my eyes but I seriously wish I could get by across all of Spain with my grasp of Castellano!

Advertisements

Day off = beach day

We had a day off uni on October 6th. We had no idea why. No other unis in the country seemed to have that day off. We didn’t complain. We did however decide we needed a bit of this:

So thanks to Laura’s fabulous organisation skills, we hopped on the 9am bus from Granada to Nerja which took us on a route that looks a little something like this (click on the – on the left of the box to zoom out and see the full image):

The bus journey itself looked a little something like this:

Steve, Bethan, Alec, Naomi, me, the back of Amy's head, Jess [Laura not pictured cuz she was taking the photo]

Steve, Bethan, Alec, Naomi, me, Amy, Jess

It was really odd for me cuz my family had been to Nerja many a time back in the days when I was younger and wider but it had been probably about 6 years since I was last there. Walking around the town and seeing the Balcon was like being on the set of a movie I knew inside out – it was all so familiar but it felt surreal to be there.

The weather was amazing.  The beach wasn’t packed.  The lilos were fun.

Bus back to Granada was at 7. It was a successful day. Til next time, Nerja.