Adele – Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain
Semester 2, 2016
London, Mykonos, Ios, Santorini, Brussels, Bruge, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Medjugorje, Mostar, Kotor and Budva. From spending countless days at the beach in the Greek islands to admiring the remnants of the Berlin Wall in Germany, those first two months were full of amazing and unique experiences that I will cherish for life. Since arriving in Spain the travel hasn’t stopped either. Alongside the wonderful friends I have made being on exchange we have travelled to Toledo, Granada and Valencia all of which are cities in Spain. To document the entirety of my travels since arriving in Europe three and a half months ago would be near impossible in so few words so instead I will share my favourite trip so far, Granada.The beauty of Australian universities running their semesters opposite to those of European universities is that it meant I was able to travel from the 1st of July when my exams finished until I arrived in Madrid in late August. Two months and seventeen cities later I found myself with memories that will last a lifetime and a far greater awareness of a number of European cultures.
Eight of us piled into a bus leaving Madrid at 6am on a Friday morning. Five hours and several naps later we arrived in Granada. We wound our way through the cobblestone back streets of the city to arrive at our guesthouse. After a day of sightseeing and tapas we returned to the guesthouse where the owner offered to take us to see the sunset in a spot that only the locals know about. What happened next is something I will never forget. Granada is located in the South of Spain not far from Africa’s northern border. The owner of the guest house took us to the highest point in Granada where a group of Senegalese men who migrated to Spain live in natural caves. They made us chilli coffee and sang traditional music while we sat and watched the sunset over Granada with a totally unobstructed view. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and the whole atmosphere of the evening was extremely special. I felt privileged to be able to share in that moment and grateful that they were willing to share their way of life with us. The next morning we were up at 5am to queue for tickets to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is one of the palaces/fortresses that was built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain before it was re-conquered in 1492. Granada was the last city in Spain to be re-conquered and when you see the Alhambra it’s not hard to understand why. That night we saw a traditional Flamenco show as Flamenco originates from the Andalusian region of Spain which is where Granada is located. It was a small show that gave us a real taste of what authentic flamenco is. We then spent our Sunday relaxing at the Hammam Al Andulas, the first Arabic baths in Europe before we hopped on our bus back to Madrid ready for uni on Monday. It was a weekend I will really never forget.