Today was my first day of college and after a never ending orientation session I find myself here in my college library blogging after ages. The past few months were too eventful to blog about. I conducted a campaign against Child Sexual Abuse, wrote my board exams, appeared for college entrances and visited quite a few places in and outside Hyderabad. But the purpose of my reappearance here is the recent holiday to Spain.
After a torturous month of anticipation and disappointment over my board results, Spain was a breath of fresh air. Here goes a detailed account of the entire trip, after reading this, you guys better toss those guided tour tickets of Europe out of the window.
Day 1: Bangalore- Doha- Barcelona
After straining our necks in different angles for over ten hours in two different flights, we stepped into the Barcelona airport. Sultan Sir (the guy behind Horlicks Wizkids) went ahead to rent a car for our upcoming road trip at the SixT counter and managed to get our pre booked Mercedes E 200 upgraded to a Mercedes E 220 sports edition. The car was christened “Black Beauty” and thus we commenced our road trip from the basement of the Barcelona airport to Valencia, a city that effortlessly blends modern architecture with the charms of the Renaissance period. Roads in Spain are extremely difficult to navigate, but our GPS Maria ensured that we reached our hotel within five hours. The drive from Barcelona to Valencia was interrupted by numerous toll booths. But it was worth all the toll tickets as we drove on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and drove into sophisticated tunnels cutting through the heart of the hills time and again.
Day 2: Valencia
After a heavy breakfast we headed to the City of Arts and Sciences, one of Valencia’s major tourist attractions. That place is a marvel of modern architecture with state of the art technology. We saw sharks, seals, walruses, jelly fish, penguins and many other organisms from the ocean kingdom in huge glass enclosures. The best part about that place was the dolphin show though.
Next we headed to the old part of the city with boulevards and church squares and intricately constructed fountains. We visited the magnificent Valencia Cathedral, which is rumoured to house the Holy Grail. The construction of the church is very gothic and has an atmosphere of eeriness about it. The five of us climbed all the way up the bell tower and watched the mechanism behind the old bell ring as the sound resonated through the many alleys of the city.
As we walked through the lanes near the Church we heard tunes of Jazz floating in the air and upon further investigation we realized it was a three member band of street musicians performing. Being Indians, being loud and being from the land of bollywood and dance we ended up shaking our legs to the music. Dancing on the street- one more thing off my bucket list, thanks to Spain. That night after a delicious dinner of Tapas and Fried Calamari rings we made our way back to the parking with the help of a map and two hours of struggle on foot.
City of Arts and Science
View of old city of Valencia from the top of a the Cathedral’s bell tower
Day 3: Granada
It was only day three and it felt like ages already. After a quick breakfast we set off to Granada. Granada is one of the few remaining places in Spain with traces of a very rich Islamic history. As we drove from Valencia to Granada we could see the terrain change from fruit orchards with white cottages on hilltops to bare hills and arid stretches of land which indicated that we were in the region of Andalusia. Being a fan of Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, I got pretty excited when I realised that I was at Santiago’s birthplace. I started imagining a young boy bearing the traces of years of hardwork under the harsh sun with his herd of sheep walking across the barren hills and ridges. We arrived at Granada and after checking into our hotel we set off to search for a place to eat. Fortunately we found a small restaurant serving traditional middle eastern food in the style of fast food joints. It was a respite from all the bread we ate ever since we stepped into Spain. After lunch we boarded the local bus to Alhambra a UNESCO world heritage site. Alhambra was a fortress built by the Nazareth empire with a palace, a mosque which was later demolished and replaced with a church, vast gardens, courtyards and numerous fountains. The place was evidence of the sprawling Islam constructions and occupation of that region once upon a time. After we came back to the town we happened to come across a girl selling tickets for a Flamenco tickets and that was our next stop. The performance took place in a tiny and dinghy bar in a dark alley. The audience consisted of the five of us, two couples and a little girl. But the performance put up by the old singer, the middle aged Flamenco dancer and the guitarist was enough to blow our minds for the rest of the night. The dancer displayed excellent poise, control and passion in her moves and the musicians accompanied her powerful feet tapping and spins with equally mesmerizing music and Andalusian songs.
View of Granada from Alhambra
The Alhambra Tower- grilled meat, fish and vegetables
That night after a random google search on the porch of our hotel, we decided to visit Javea, a small coastal village.
Day 4: Javea
The drive from Granada to Javea was the most breathtaking experience in my entire life. Nothing has ever come close to the kind of heaven I visited that day. We were driving through the Andalusian hills towering on both sides of the road at a speed of 260 kilometers per hour when suddenly the hill on our right side abruptly ended to reveal a wide stretch a sparkling blue water. Grey and mysterious hills on my left, yellow wild flowers growing on the divider of the road and the clear blue Mediterranean Sea on my right as Berlin sang ” Take my breath away” on the stereo, I leave the rest of the imagination to you. Javea turned out to be one of those typical coastal villages with tiny roads that can accommodate only one car at a time, similar looking white or yellow buildings on both sides and tiny shops with mannequins wearing floral dresses and hats. We were staying at a youth hostel with dorms and bunk beds in Javea. We headed out to the beach after freshening up. The beach was sparsely populated and offered an fabulous view of the cliffs, the horizon and the never ending waves of clear cobalt blue waters. We had a hard time trying to balance ourselves on the pebbles and rocks covered with slimy algae in the sea floor. But the pebble beach wasn’t even the best part of Javea! After we came back to our hostel, we saw the streets outside lined with people of all ages holding bags and plastic covers and baskets. On enquiring people, it turns out we were right in time for the last day of the town’s largest celebrations, Sant Joan’s Fiesta. So we witnessed a huge procession of people dressed in ethnic Spanish gowns and suits throwing confetti and candies at the onlookers. It was followed by a fireworks show in the town square which was later followed by a rock concert, a street party and exactly at 12 am, there were more fireworks. The fireworks shot up towards the sky in quick successions and was coordinated with music. It was on the most magnificent displays I ever laid my eyes upon.
Pebble Beach at Javea
Lebanese Platter with Pina Colada on the beachside
Carnival Celebrations outside our hostel
Day 5: Javea- Barcelona
This was the last time we were hitting the road and the roads did make sure that we remembered them forever. Maria (our GPS) failed to receive the signals on time and gave directions extremely slowly which led to a great deal of confusion and a never ending maze of roads. After five hours of aimlessly going off the road, driving 10-20 kilometers for a u turn and paying loads of money in toll booths for losing our way, we reached the vibrant city of Barcelona. The best part about this place was our own 3 bedroom holiday apartment right in the heart of the city. We walked a couple of blocks and finally found a pizzeria. Then we roamed around the Rambla, walked in shady lanes with posters of Sanjay Dutt outside salons, bought souvenirs and befriended the Pakistani shopkeepers all over that area. Dinner was at a small turkish restaurant where we finally got to lay our hands on rice.
Day 6: Barcelona
We woke up early in the morning, fixed a small breakfast with the groceries we bought from the pakistani supermarket the previous night. Then we walked through many lanes and up a hill to board the hop on hop off tourist buses of Barcelona. After taking a tour of the city from the open topped bus we went to Burger King for lunch. It was followed by a visit to a palatial museum with lots of enchanting fountains. That night we had Paella, a traditional Spanish dish and lots of Tapas. It was an emotional dinner as it was our last one together. Promises were made and goals were set. We walked back to our apartment late at night by navigating our way through unfamiliar and unexplored streets.
This trip was by far the best thing me and my friends ever experienced. The sceneries were breathtaking, our conversations were thought provoking and Sultan sir made sure that we learnt a good deal of things right from where to park your car to how to communicate with people who didn’t have any common language with you. In the end we even made a resolution to go on a similar trip ten years down the line. But this time we cover our own expenses and maintain the lifestyle standards we experienced this time starting from the best hotels, cars and food. The trip is conditional, we go ahead with it if all the four of us grow on to become successful in our own fields.
Samanvith lost our boarding passes at the Dubai airport which led to a lot of panic but we managed to get new ones at the nick of time. That sweet boy made up for it by buying us girls two shades of lipstick each though!
Samanvith, Astha, Ayushi and most importantly, Sultan Sir. Thank you for the countless memories.