Friday, 28 March 2008


So for the best part of six weeks I stayed in this odd little hostel, with secret and irregular curfew hours and an opera-singing daughter and interesting passers-by. And all was good; I even spoke some Spanish. Best of all though was simply being right beside the Alhambra. The building, even from the outside, is simply stunning. And all the shops were selling this book, as if I ought to have heard of it:

Apparently it's very famous. I dunno, I still haven't read it!!

Other shops that I passed walking up and down the hill a couple of times every day made and sold guitars or chessboards and boxes in a morroccan style. And gitanas trying to press rosemary into my hand so that they could grap my palm and tell my fortune...

And, just a few weeks into my stay, it was Semana Santa....

Thursday, 20 March 2008

An Enchantment of People...

And what a great place it was! I struggled terribly trying to communicate with the owner-manager (A-level Spanish, even at A grade - sorry for boasting - being worth precisely nothing in Andalucía) but finally managed to do a deal where I agreed to stay for a month (bulk discount) in a dorm-room and he reduced the price. I paid 500 ptas a night, including breakfast. That´s about £2.50. Not bad.

The turnover in other travellers was fascinating. I declare, I probably had a more interesting time staying in the one place and having people pass by than moving around myself.

There was a bearded philosopher guy, who, like me, was a long-term resident.
There was Seán from Boston who later came to visit me in Ireland and was amazed at the Giant's Causeway.
There was the guy who just couldn't believe it when Kurt Cobain killed himself.
There were all the people who got mugged in Madrid (I made a mental note that if I ever went to Madrid, I wouldn't go alone)
There was the American woman with boots who had just come from Morrocco and loved it.
There were the two American lads who had also just been to Morrocco and whose friend had basically had a nervous breakdown due to culture shock.
There was the guy with the moustache who had learnt Spanish from scratch from his guide while boating down the Amazon.
There was the cyclist who ate all the fruit. Reckoned that what he was saving in transport costs he was spending on food to keep his energy up!
There was the film journalist who was learning flamenco guitar and used to practice with a cloth under the strings to dampen the sound.

Thanks to all of you, for your openness and company.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Hostal Doña Lupe - luxury!

So, having already paid for two nights, I got up early and spent the morning looking for somewhere else to live. While I hadn't actually bought a guide to the city, I had at least had the wit to do a bit of research in the library. I checked out a couple of the other hostales nearby before looking up the address I had brought with me - the cheapest (but highly recommended) hostel in the Let's Go guide. It was about as far away as you could get and still be in the same city. Up a very big hill.

I gathered up my kit (I had FAR too much stuff - learned that lesson the hard way!) and trudged across town. Don't think I even said goodbye. Nor did it occour to me to get a bus or taxi; not so much out of the heat affecting my brain as just being overcome with the strangeness of it all.

And this is where I ended up:

Monday, 4 June 2007

a bad night

So, I had decided I was too poor to invest in a Let´s Go! of my very own, but had the good sense to copy out the details of the most likely looking cheap accommodation in Granada. What I hadn´t rekoned with, however, was that the bus might arrive at about 3am. Nor had I yet learnt that the bus station in european cities is always in the dodgiest part of town.

Naturally then, when a complete stranger offered to take me to his "hostel," I chose to ignore that he was a rather shifty-looking and dirty old man and went home with him. I´ve since found out that those who tout accommodation around bus and train stations are usually doing so illegally and are not properly registered or whatever; to be honest, though, I´m not really likely to be tempted again anyway - I think I learnt my lesson! Memory suggests, in a rather non-specific way, that both the stranger and his establishment were somewhat unpleasant and frightening. The six dirty bunk beds crammed into the tiny room, the heat and the noise - dogs barking, glass breaking and couples copulating - well, it was all just a bit much after three days on a bus.

Saturday, 2 June 2007


Looking back, I was terribly innocent and overburdened. I had persuaded myself that I would look for work and stay indefinitely, not considering that Granada already had a student population of about 50,000 and certainly didn't need any more seasonal unskilled labour. Oh, and I don't really like working that much anyway, so when an opportunity didn't just fall into my lap, I kinda gave up on the work idea.

I busked a bit, without much success. So carrying the guitar all that way was a bit of a waste of time then...

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Dale limosna mujer...

... que no hay en la vida pena como la de ser ciego en Granada.

So, I was 18 years old. I was meant to be doing a six-month placement teaching English to schoolkids in Spain, and it didn´t work out because the guy in Spain had taken a sabbatical without telling anyone else in the organisation. Typical.

So, what to do? Sit around moping? Instead, I sold my possessions and got on a bus (no easyJet then!) to Granada. That´s a long way on a bus...