Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moors vs. Christians, Part II

Just us young Moors, enjoying a bag of cheese doodles

We come bearing fire.

The Moors' costumes really are much better. That's why everyone wants to dress up as one for the Moors and Christians festivals. There were three different groups of Moors at the Mojácar festival, but only one of Christians.

Even the little old ladies (the one on the left in the official uniform of the Spanish old lady that includes a knee-length skirt) in their natural habitat (on a bench) want in on the Moor costumes!
Fifteen Hours in Granada: The Official Tour

As you may imagine (although I suppose that it’s a bit much of me to think that you should spend your time imagining about the quality and/or content of my life), I’ve gotten to know Granada fairly well. I am now self-certified to lead the official fifteen hour nocturnal tour of the city. I pity the fool who came and visited months and months ago, before I had done in-depth research as to quality and size of tapas.

Danielle and Adrian drove into town at about eight-thirty the other day, and had to head out of the city before noon the next day, which gave me just enough time to give them the tour. Here’s a play-by-play:

Round one: Páprika. It’s not the closest bar to my house (there are two closer), but it’s got a nice outdoor setup, friendly service, and sometimes-innovative tapas. We were given dilly tomato salad with cheese and onions.
Stop one: Mirador de San Nicolás. We missed sunset by about ten minutes, but the views of the Alhambra were stunning nonetheless.
Round two: The bar near Plaza Larga that is labeled “Comedor” outside, and that probably has a name, but that I don’t actually know. The gazpacho there is perfect: it is cold, and it is salty, and it is exactly what you didn’t realize that you needed on a hot Granada day, until you are there, and everything is right with the world. The tapa there was little cubes of fish in adobo (not the Mexican kind) and cabbage salad. Perfect.
Stop two: The Camino del Sacromonte, for another view of the Alhambra and a look at the caves on the main street.
Rounds three-five/Dinner: Bodegas Castañeda. Between the three of us, we split a small cold platter (cold cuts, patés, jams, salmon) and an empanada.
Stop three: The Capilla Real and cathedral.
Stop four: Plaza Bibarrambla, just because it’s the closest that Granada has to a Plaza Mayor.
Stop five: We then took a walk and ended up by the Rio Genil
Stop six: Then we walked through the Realejo and went to see Santo Domingo, my favorite church in Granada. The lighting was a bit harsh, though (a really strong streetlight), so it wasn’t absolutely magical.

Breakfast: Churros and chocolate at Café Futbol. They are my favorite in Granada. The chocolate is thick, and the churros are perfectly crisp on the outside.
Stop one: The Alhambra. We didn’t have tickets, and D and A didn’t have much time, but we did go up and walk around. We went through the museum in the Palace of Charles V, looked out over to the Mirador de San Nicolas and waved , and saw the baths in the Alhambra.
Stop two: We walked down from the Alhambra and over to the Albayzín (my neighborhood). We stopped in at the Palacio de los Córdova, and then at the Bañuelo. And then we raced back to my house (taking a slight detour along the Calderería, so that D and A could see the touristy street with all of the Moroccan tea houses, and the imported Moroccan souvenirs.)

And then it was time for them to go!

You, too, can take this tour (or a more refined variant of it) if you have exactly fifteen hours to spend in this fair city. Come visit!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Flash mobs, and Madrid

So, I was on the phone not too long ago (last Sunday?), and the following three things happened: someone screamed, a car drove by loudly (in a beeping, rattling way), and something, somewhere, exploded.

This was all explained not too long afterwards, when streams and streams of people with cars and horns and motorbikes and banners kept driving by on the street, making happy honking and yelling sounds.

It was all for a soccer game!
Someone won, apparently!

It was Real Madrid (and, apparently, David Beckham's last game with them, since it seems that someone's decided that he should be the one to breathe life into American professional soccer.)

I’m glad I wasn’t in Madrid for that, or a fan of the opposing team.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Moors vs. Christians, Part I

What happens when two friends who've both studied Arabic literature are in Andalucía in June? That's right, they find the nearest Moros y Cristianos festival, and drive clear across the Iberian Peninsula to go see it.

I've never been to a U.S. Civil War recreation, but these seem to be along those lines with none of the attention to historical accuracy.

Sam (who was in town last week) and I rented ourselves a Hyundai with a five-or-six horsepower engine and went on over to Mojácar, the warmest little town in the U.K. Seriously, there were so many Brits there, and a supermarket named Mr. U.K.

In Mojácar, we watched the first evening of the annual Moors and Christians festival, which is a celebration of when, in 1488, the Catholic Kings and the local rulers agreed that the town would have equal rights for all! (That is pretty much verbatim from the tourist office brochure. Read: that is when the city fell to the Reconquest, four years before the fall of Granada and the end of Al-Andalus.) In addition to some Christians, the groups at the M and C festival were the Moros Viejos, the Aljama Mudejar, and the Moriscos. Interesting, no?

Presumably, after the weekend of mock battles (indicated by copious blunderbuss shots--that's a new word for me; the Moros y Cristianos schedule was very fond of the word, using it at least once per event entry), the Christians win, and the different groups all go their merry ways, accompanied by their bands.

Also: we stayed at a campground that was overly well lit for my sleeping comfort, next to the camper van of a little retired French man named Bernard, who had worked in security at a nuclear plant, and who made us tea and set up a little card table and chairs for us.

Also: we went to the beach, and swam around a bit, and stared in shock/awe at how red some of the people (presumably Brits) at the beach were.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

They are wearing masks!

I am back in Granada, and allergy-prone. I usually sneeze three times in a row, but I hit eight the other day. And I'm itchy.

Apparently, though, I'm not the only one allergic to Granada. Plenty of people (I've seen between three and five a day that I've noticed) are walking around with masks on. They are not just plain surgical masks, but some sort of 3M-branded fancy looking masks with contours and a little breathing grate. They don't look like these.

I am told that what they are all wearing is masks because they have allergies, and not anti-bird-flu masks (did I miss a bird-flu scare while I was in Morocco?)

I just sneezed twice. It made someone laugh at me. Sigh (sniffle.)