The north hemisphere is going through autumn at the moment. While many countries north Spain are freezing, Madrid is starting to get cold especially in the morning and at night. The sun grace us with its warmth in the afternoon but you can't really feel its heat. It's just enough to shake away the chills the autumn wind brings. Many start wearing coats now and I follow suit. I even put gloves on in the morning but I take them and my coat off in the afternoon because it's just the right kind of coldness! So this is the perfect time to run away and head south where it is a little bit warmer. I booked two weekend trips with BeMadrid, both about 3 weeks apart, to cities in Andalusia.
End of October, I went to Seville not knowing much to expect when I booked the trip. A few days before the day, my supervisor was telling me that Seville is very beautiful and some places were sets in films and TV shows (Star Wars and The Game of Thrones). By the time I was in the bus, I was already excited. This is my first time going alone without a friend but I know that I was going to make friends on the bus and the whole time during the trip so it was not a big deal. I met many people from the States and central America. My roommate was from North Carolina and she came alone too. I swear to god, there are so many independent young ladies on this trip I have never felt more empowered. Guys that go on these trip are never alone. They are either with their girlfriends or their friends. I mean it's not a big deal but it kind of give me a different perspective to my expectation the next time I am going anywhere around here. I know I will end up showing my sisters a good time because a chance that a guy would choose to hang out with me is very very slim considering the circumstances.
|Plaza de España, Seville|
I had a good time during that two day trip considering that I get to talk to most people. I tagged along when they hang out at the bar and just talk and get to know each other. Where we come from, how our country is like, how our life is like back home and our dreams and goals for the future. I am a very talkative person and I love conversations. I would listen to whatever it is that you have to tell me, I will not go silent on you. But to have other people just opening up like that as well, it gets the conversation going and I didn't think I wanted to stop! I don't know if it was the alcohol that made most of them loosen up a bit or I just have not met this many people who can hold up great conversations at one time like this. And everyone likes being liked. So to have people that give this vibe that they enjoy your company, it just makes you happy. Plus Seville is by far my favorite city in Spain.
People keep asking me if I was going to Granada and Cordoba. So you can just imagine my anticipation for the trip on November. On this trip, an Indonesian lady reached out to me before we met because she was relieved to know there was another Muslim. We were roommates and basically we spent a lot of time together. It's always refreshing to hang out with someone from a different age group. She was almost my mom's age but she was definitely young at heart... just like my mom. So it was nothing weird or awkward for me. I also met someone from Dominican Republic and it was kind of amusing because she has this personality like the fun Latina you always see in movies by the way she talks and make jokes. Sure, stereotypes are unfair but they all have to come from somewhere!
|View of Alhambra from the city|
Granada was amazing, full of history and culture. Of course I visited the famous Alhambra but I was so disappointed that we had so limited time there with no guide. So I learned nothing out of the visit. But I have learned before that when you go somewhere with these agencies, you only get either one; you learn something or you get a lot of good pictures. You rarely get both. So, even though I didn't get what I wanted out of my visit to Alhambra, at least I got amazing pictures. However, the guided tour that we got around the new and old city of Granada was very very informative. The tour guide was also very passionate about the city so he did not hesitate to tell and show us what he knows. I love seeing people that are able to retell history as if it was a story they have seen before their own eyes. People always relate history to being boring but these kind of people prove that to be wrong.
The night in Granada was very very different for me. On this trip, most of them are native Spanish speakers and even if they are not, they still can carry a full conversation in Spanish. When I tagged along that night, I didn't understand half of what was going on and having a conversation was hard! But it was definitely exciting because this is why I came to Spain for. The language. And I did learn a lot though I was confused most times. This was also a reason why I did not really feel attached with any of them because I didn't get to know most of them very well due to the language barrier but hey, you win some you lose some. At least this experience was very new and not many can say they have been in my situation!
|Teteria in Granada|
I have to admit I didn't know anything about Malaga so everything I learnt there was an 'ohhh' moment for me. Being a city in the south, near the Alboran Sea, of course it had many history from how people settled there for its resources to all the empires that conquered it in the past. I didn't do much in Malaga other than taking pictures and go for the guided tour. I wanted us to go to Cordoba sooner because I wanted to see a lot of places in Cordoba and I knew it would be raining. But I did try to go to all the nearby tourist attraction for pictures.
|Teatro Romano and Alcazaba in Malaga has their own stories|
I was physically ready to run everywhere and see everything in Cordoba but the rain was really slowing me down. And no, 3 hours is not enough to do everything. At least I did enter the most important place I needed to see, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. The fact that it was a mosque before it became a cathedral did not upset me as many Muslims claim to feel. I would have felt worse if it was torn down. At least this way, some of the aesthetic elements of the original mosque was kept and we are able to see that and admire the architecture. What I felt was mostly embarrassment of how lightly most Muslims take Islam (including me) and that was why the kingdom fall in the first place. That was how we got weak. Islam is complete and cherry picking it is just making holes in something that is already a whole. This was definitely more of a moment of realization for me.
|The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba|
There is this part of me that want to book a train to go to Cordoba one more time and see the rest of the city but I have to consider a lot of things because there are many more other places I have not seen. Plus I got to fulfill my best friend's wish as her birthday gift, took a picture with her name at a beautiful view in Cordoba. That's when I realize how much I miss her and how I wish I was with her on this trip instead. So I think my time here is done.
|The Roman Bridge of Cordoba|
This trip taught me two things. First of all, as much as it is fun to go and meet new people every time I go on these trips, I still want to be with familiar faces most times because some amazing things are best shared with people you care deeply about. And secondly, as much as I LOVE the cold, I do miss the sun because the second we got to Madrid again, I needed to remind myself there's no escaping this weather and it is just going to get colder too, until I get back to Malaysia though I will start complaining on how hot it will be.