Trip date: March 8 – March 15 (Exactly 9 years ago today!)
Hola! Last week was spring break for the students at the Romecenter in Monte Mario, though I feel like this semester has been one long spring break. Regardless, a week without classes was welcome, as was a week at the beach. My friends and I decided it made the most financial sense to go to Costa del Sol as part of the student trip organized by the school and it offered the right combination of sight seeing and beach time. The only trouble was Sheila, the uptight trip chaperone. Oh Sheila. Never before was there someone in more need of a chill pill – I think this trip aged her about 30 years.
After leaving Rome early and flying to Malaga via Barcelona we finally arrived at our hotel at about 2 that afternoon, just in time to catch the all-inclusive buffet style lunch. I don’t think it was until we were all on our second helping of paella that we noticed the other hotel patrons. The average age was around 70 and at least half moved with the assistance of walkers, canes and wheelchairs. It also wasn’t uncommon to see oxygen tanks and I’m sure there were more than a couple of adult diapers about the place. In short, we lowered the average age by a few decades. Our original thought was that they were going to hate us for being loud and running around and doing everything else that constitutes spring break for American college kids. This opinion changed, however, when we all up on our bathing suits and headed out to the beach. Every male head turned in the direction of the 20-somethings in bikinis that had just arrived on the scene. The first day was spent exploring the hotel, the beach and the city of Torremolinos (just next to Malaga) where we were staying. The beach was just across the street from the hotel and there were several little outdoor cafes and adorable tiki-type bars. My favorite feature, however, was the coastline pedestrian path! For months I’ve been running on a treadmill in the basement of the Romecenter (I ran once on the streets of Rome but it didn’t go well… the sidewalks are SO narrow and crowded and more than once I was stopped and asked who I was running from) and I welcomed a week of outdoor runs with a beautiful view! Apparently no one in Spain actually goes in the water in March… except for crazy American students who grew up swimming in Lake Michigan. I’m proud to say that I was the FIRST one in the water, and the only girl. A couple of boys followed me in, but not many. Their loss! I had a blast playing in the waves, even if it was a bit chilly.
On Sunday a group of us went to Granada. Granada used to be a Moorish town and is about two and a half hours from Malaga. It was beautiful! We were worried at first because we weren’t sure if there would be any action on a Sunday, but we lucked out as there was parade going on. We weren’t sure what the parade was for, exactly, but had fun using the climbing walls, pogo sticks, stilts and other big kid toys. The parade was full of clowns and street performers (and more than a couple of drunken streakers) as well as a man in a Tigger costume. Don’t know why, but that didn’t stop us from getting a picture with him!
Eventually we peeled ourselves away from the action of the parade in town and headed up the hill to visit the Alhambra Palace. What a contrast from drunken streakers! It was all so peaceful and serene and absolutely beautiful! Everything was surrounded by gardens and green and running water and it was full of lovely vistas. The detailed architecture embellishments of the palace was so intricate and I marveled at the fact that it has survived since the 14th century when it was built. We were told that it was a perfect example of the Andalusian style of art and architecture. Very impressive.
The next couple of days were spent relaxing on the beach, playing beach volleyball, exploring Torremolinos and reading. A few of the boys got really into the construction of a rather incredible sandcastle that stood about as tall as my waist when it was completed. It was complete with motes, bridges, decor and a makeshift flag on top. It was called Castle Kevin and was almost as impressive as Alhambra.
Midweek we went to Sevilla for the day but after four hours on the bus each way and only five hours in the city I realized that Sevilla isn’t the kind of city you visit merely on a day trip. I would have loved to have had more time to explore the city but felt like I was in overdrive the entire time in order to take as much of it in as possible. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed visiting a handful of sites. Though, unfortunately, my roommate had her wallet stolen while we were at lunch so about half of my visit was spent helping her – calling the US to cancel bank cards, contacting the Embassy, retracing our steps and consoling her. Though we did get a chance to climb to the top of the Cathedral.
The final few days were spent chilling on the beach. We were meant to visit Gibraltar and Morocco on another day trip but for some reason the tour was canceled at the last minute and it was too late to get on another one. I was disappointed because I’d been looking forward to it, but I’ll get there someday. The day that we left was a overcast which made it a little bit easier to say goodbye. We were told that Costa del Sol gets 300 days of sun each year, and we were lucky enough to enjoy almost a full week of them!