9/17/2010 (Malaga, Spain)

After a couple of days in Granada without Wi-Fi, it’s nice to be in this ultra-modern Hotel Barcello in Malaga. The halls of the hotel are so sterile, they feel like a prison in outer space. When you walk down the narrow corridors, the lights above the doors of the room come on as you walk past. Our “key” is a card that you pass in front of the door–like a barcode but with a strong “open sesame” feel. It turns out that this very quiet hotel was built in a multi-block, one building structure that includes a large shopping mall (complete with McDonalds–they’re everywhere), a food court and all of the chain stores of Spain (Zara, Cortefeil, Negra/Blanca to name a few), and (believe it or not) a high speed train station. So when we found the car rental return at the train station (we were exhausted from our trip from Granada) I looked up to see that the hotel unbeknown to Mike, was in the same building. He really has done a great job with our accommodations.

These travelogues are turning into a 3 layered presentation. The pictures are from Sevilla and Granada; the narrative will be about Granada, except layer 3 which tells you where we are as I write this.

Ah, Granada–it had the best tapas, the fanciest hotel, the most incredible view, and the snottiest people (at the front desk). On our last night there I left my (absolute favorite light-weight) sweatshirt on the terrace. A simple task to get it back, no? No! I spent most of our last morning there getting the brush off to all inquiries. Both Mike and I felt that no effort was made to locate it–none, nada, nothing. To a person, everyone at the front desk had perfected an air of, first, disbelief that you would ask such a stupid question (may I have a wake-up call for example); second they would answer you in rapid fire, impatient Spanish complete with eye rolling and gritted teeth at los stupidos, and, finally, reluctantly deign to pull out a map or speak a little English when they realized you weren’t going away.

We had tickets for the Alhambra (supposedly the most beautiful example of Islamic art and architecture in the world). We got tickets for 7PM so we could see what the guide book promised to be one of the most spectacular sunsets on the planet. I’m sure it was thoroughly enjoyed by the people who were walking up the long hill to the Alhambra after we (and all of the other 7:00 people) were kicked out of the place at 8:00. Walking down the long hill we were fortunate to come upon and wander through the Arabic section and get an idea of what we might be able to buy in Morocco (for a lot less hopefully). After that we had sangria on a nearby plaza and then took a cab back to the Hotel Carmen. We ate on the terrace again–excellent–unable to completely finish a bottle of excellent Penedes vino tinto.

A few words about prices in Spain. A McDonald’s hambuger is about $5.40 (and no, we haven’t eaten there), coffee con leche (I take it with milk because it’s so strong–basically espresso) is usually 1.5 Euros (about $1.95), still water runs about 1.20 Euros, and a decent class of house wine is 2-2.5 Euros, the same price as sparkling water. Pastellerias (selling pastries and sandwiches) and Heladerias (ice cream) are everywhere. At Boccarillas you can get sandwiches, tapas, wine, and coffee as well as desserts and ice cream (in case you haven’t had anything sweet for a block or two).

We finished our Granada tour by taking an unplanned, hour and 45 minute driving tour in and around the city and through all of the construction and traffic jams. I felt like Granada, not content with stealing my sudadera (sweatshirt) was hanging onto us and wouldn’t let go. On the other hand, my Spanish improved of necessity and I now know how to say (quite fluently), “There is no one on the terrace and I lost my sudadera on the terrace last night.” I can also say, “where is the road (any road) that will get me to Malaga?” and “My God, please help get me out of Granada.” (Dios mios, ayudame caminar de Granad, por favor.”

We leave tomorrow for Marrakesh where friendly sales people follow you down streets aggressively hawking their wares. As long as they don’t roll their eyes and sigh with exasperation, I’m good with it. Next installment: the Picasso museum, the Malaga marina and a Spanish galleon, and falling on my knees and hands on a (bumpy) side street in Malaga. Who says I don’t know how to have a good time?