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For those that have been reading my posts since I first left August 28th, I made it back home. I want to thank everyone who was praying for safe travels.  It was a long journey, 25 hours of traveling to be exact. My whole family was waiting for me at the airport to welcome me back into the US, including my dog who gave me a million kisses.

I am filled with mixed emotions. I am sad to leave Granada and I have caught myself crying a couple times when talking about Granada, specifically my host mom. I am also excited to be back with my whole family. It has been a while since all 4 of us have been under the same roof.

There are so many things I miss. My walk to school every morning, my host mom, the friends in my program, the language, and the food.

But there were so many things in the U.S. that I had missed and was excited to come home too. My family. Starbucks. Chipotle. CPC. mexican food. Friends. My mom’s cooking.

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My A-Z of Granada

So, in honor of leaving tomorrow, I have made an A-Z  list of the bests to see and do in this city that I have called home for 3 1/2 months. Most visitors concentrate solely on the magnificent Alhambra, but if you explore further, you’ll find Andalucia’s hippest, most youthful city, with a “tapas gratiz” culture, that now has a piece of my heart. Some of this list includes places I have gone, things I have done, and highlights from this semester.

Alhambra- Beautiful and a must see when in Granada. The palace, the gardens, the history; it is all beautiful.

Baños de Japoneses. My roommate and I went here one night for a girl’s evening. We caught up on life and relaxed in the baths and hot tea. Oh and we got a massage.

Centro de Lenguas Moderno: my building that I have studied at through the University of Granada. Spent some good time in this building, sometimes even 6 hours a time.

Dancing- Flamenco dance originated from Andalucía I even had the opportunity to go to a show up in the caves with my program.

Elephants! My favorite animal and you can get almost any elephant souvenir you could ever want here! I may have bought a blanket, scarf, and pants with elephants on them.

Futból  Café futból is a classic café for chocolate and churros and with the free wifi it is a great place to meet up with friends. It is a café that both the tourists and the locals love.  Futból is a popular sport through out Spain,  I made it to a futból game with my program and it is an experience you don’t want to miss.

General Life Gardens in the Alhambra. The garden attached to the Alhambra is beautiful. We went here during our first week in Granada and in these gardens I bonded with many girls in my program and even had a photo shoot.

H&M yes, I know that we have this in the states, but how can you resist the 4 story H&M on your walk to class every morning.

Italianos  The best gelato you will ever taste, even Michelle Obama says so. And for only 1 euro what could be better than that! You have to be careful though because it closes from October until the spring. But my wallet was grateful.

Justín- my first Spanish movie I went to. This animation was written and designed in Granada. During my time here I went to quiet a few movies and they helped with my Spanish comprehension. My new favorite movie in Spanish is Frozen: el reino del hielo.

Kilometers of coastline. Granada is home to the mountains and the beaches. Enjoy some time at the Mediterranean Beach. Salobreña was my favorite beach, but Alemuñeca is good too.

Llano de la Perdiz- One of my favorite hikes in Granada. You can see the Sierra Nevada on one side and the city on the other. One morning I woke up early with two friends to hike it so we could watch the sunrise. It was totally worth it even though we got lost on the way down.

Mayerling- possibly my favorite café to study at with friends. My classic order was a café con leche.

Nightlife As a University city the nightlife is pretty great. Most people go out for tapas and then to the discotecas (camborio, an outdoor club overlooking the Alhambra, or GranadaDiez, very classy, were my two favorites) As most Americans leave a club around 2, most of these clubs don’t open until 2. I have learned that the stereotype that Spainards stay out until dawn is true.

Olive oil tasting: Our program went to Olvia to taste olive oil after an interesting class about the culture and how olive oil is made. It was so good and I had no idea there were over 200 varieties of olives. Well Alicia and I loved it so much that last week we went back to do the olive oil tasting and this time it included tasting Granada wines!

Parque Federico García Lorca. A beautiful park close to my apartment and is great for running in.

Quindici: one of the many Italian words I have learned in my Italian class this semester.
Río Genil, go on a beautiful run along the river or grab a book and find a bench.

Sierra Nevada. Just a short bus ride away.  Go trekking or skiing in the Sierra Nevadas overlooking the city.

Tapas. Granada is home of the free tapas. For every drink you buy, you get a free appetizer.

Unique geography. In the province of Granada you can ski at Sierra Nevada in the morning and drive 40 minutes to the coast to swim in the sea on the sameday. The amazing variety of climate makes for a fun place to live in.

Vegan cafe. Hicuri Art Vegan Restaurant and Café. It is the perfect spot for some café con leche de almendras (almond milk). I found it a little later in the semester than I would have liked, but it is brand new it opened just 3 months ago and the perfect place for breakfast or studying during classes.

Window shopping on Recogidas- who doesn’t love window shopping on your walk to school every morning.

Xcellent sunrise at a la Mirador de San Nicolas. Breathtaking views of La Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada  or as my professor would say “sexy sexy bomb” view. A perfect place for a picnic and a sunset, according to Bill Clinton.

You should come visit at Christmas Time! There are lights all around the city and it is beautiful at night, not to mention all the Christmas markets throughout the city.

Zakuro an amazing Japanese restaurant along río darro, because where else can you get fresh sushi and a tinto de verano.

 

The first of the Lasts

Today I leave for my last big trip. I am going to Norway with friends from my program. After this trip, the next time I get on an airplane it will be to come home.

It is weird to me that this is my last trip. Dreaming, planning, organizing, traveling, and taking endless photos has become a part of my life this semester. It is hard to tell myself that it isn’t normal to take off a weekend to travel around Spain, let alone a different country. But this was a big part of who I was this semester and through it was able to find my independence and use my planning, navigating and budgeting skills to the max. It also taught me how to go with the flow, get lost, and try new things that ended up making  me stronger as a person. I have learned that I can fly to a city with only 5 things on my list and have more fun than a list of 20 things.

I have loved each one of my trips so much and each one brought me joy in a unique way and taught me so much. I am sad that I have to start ending this chapter. The chapter of traveling and cultures. But after this semester I know that there are more chapters of traveling to come.

So for now I am off to Norway to enjoy a weekend in Bergen with a great friend. Did I mention that Bergen is home to the world’s largest Gingerbread CITY?!?!

When in Rome…

This weekend was a fairytale for me. I finally got to travel to Italy. It has been a dream of mine to go to Italy from the good food, to the beautiful language, to the historical sites. On top of that, I have been taking this Italian class all semester long and I was excited to get to put my new language to the test.

Once again Alicia was my travel buddy for the trip, but one of our friends in the program, Joe, joined us as well. We took off on Wednesday evening and spent the next 2.5 days sightseeing around Rome. In just one weekend, I got to see so much within the city of Rome. Each time I travel I am reminded of how much you can see and get done in one day.

Some highlights were the Colosseum, Victoriano,Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Vatican, and beautiful plazas and markets.

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As cliché as it sounds, I loved the Trevi Fountain. There was something so beautiful and surpassed all of the pictures and movie clips I have seen. It was just as beautiful in the  day as the night. Oh and the food was absolutely amazing, so fresh and delicious.

Making Wishes

Making Wishes

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I also really enjoyed the Spanish Steps. It was a really beautiful site to see but I loved the view of the city from the top the most.  In many ways it reminded me of the Lizzie McGuire Movie.

It was a rainy weekend, and yes it even hailed at  some moments. But overall it was a great weekend! 
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Another post to come soon about my second day at the smallest independent state, the Vatican. That is right 2 countries in 2 days. 

Officially Fall

The season has changed! Fall is in full swing in Granada. From wearing shorts and a T-shirt almost everyday, it is now acceptable for me to bring out my favorite seaters and boots. Last night I walked out of my class to pouring rain! At first I was excited because rain was my favorite season, but then I realized that I was unprepared: I had a laptop in my backpack and toms on my feet. Needless to say I ran home barefoot to protect my TOMS and may have slipped a couple times on the marble sidewalk.

It is crazy to believe that I have been here long enough to watch the days go from 90 degrees to 60 degrees. I have been in Europe for almost 2 months! It has gone by so fast, but I have been enjoying every minute I have had here. I won’t lie I am sad that fall begins so late here and it isn’t as beautiful as it is in Iowa or California. And I will miss the leaves changing, the apple cider, and pumpkin spiced lattes.  However, Granada has it’s own beauty to me! And luckily fall comes every year.