June 19, 2021

All the world’s an island: Correspondent Carol-Ann covers the Globe with only a back pack Part Two

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Carol-Ann-RudyBy Carol-Ann Rudy

Two Days—and a Lifetime—to Granada

Saturday morning, Paris, July 5. The rest of the Spartanburg Festival Chorus left for the airport while I headed for the train at Montparnasse station and ultimately Granada, Spain in a state of high excitement. I had shared a week of rehearsals with the SFC and several hundred other singers culminating in a concert at L’Église de la Madeleine and the American Cemetery at Normandy Beach (see http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/all-the-worlds-an-island-correspondent-carol-ann-covers-the-globe-with-only-a-back-pack/). Now the first leg of my journey through six more countries in Europe began. I was bound for my first stop in Irun, Spain.

In Irun I stayed at the Pension Bidasoa, booked well in advance as were all of my overnight stays. I had wanted to experience different accommodations including a pension (a version of a Bed-&-Breakfast), a hostel, and a European hotel. Other than the bar patrons on the first floor regaling me with raucous singing and yelling at each other at three in the morning as they made their way to the second floor and their rooms, I slept well. I woke to continue my journey the next day to Granada with a stop and change of trains in Madrid. I had not planned to stay over in Madrid; another time—I hope—I’ll get to see the Prado, one of the great art museums of the world.

I traveled to Granada by the Ave high speed train through the heart of Spain. The outstanding feature of the land was mile after mile of olive groves, groomed to spotlessness between each row of trees. I still wonder where the wildlife escaped to. I saw a great deal of graffiti also on walls approaching each station. I would see a lot more on my travels through Europe, more than I have ever seen in North America. One strange confluence: within sight of the train while approaching the city of Rioloco was a Wild West entertainment site sporting two teepees!

Other surprises along the way: water, sold only by the bottle. I was nickeled and dimed to death buying it throughout my trip. Occasionally I found tap water fit to drink, and only in hotels, B&Bs, hostels, and one ferry. One is not offered water at a restaurant table. It was expensive as well, ranging from 1.4 Euros to almost three. Considering the exchange rate for American dollars, I was spending upwards of $16 a day. I quickly learned to fill an empty bottle wherever free potable water was available. And coffee? I’m not a fan of espresso and American coffee was hard to find with real cream. How spoiled am I?

Moving from France through Spain, I had seen a shift in colors beyond the differences in the landscape. Buildings in France, including homes and roofs, tended towards the cooler end of the spectrum. In Spain the roots of Mexican architecture were visible, where homes with pink or white stucco walls and red-tiled roofs prevailed.

Then Granada! It was a treat, with wide plazas everywhere paved in marble and tiles and magnificent architecture. There and throughout Europe, most side streets were paved in cobblestone. I found my next booking, the Pension Olympia, without a problem. For someone not speaking any other language fluently, I found most people amazingly patient and willing to help me find my way everywhere in Europe. After checking in, I started on one of the highlights of my trip: experiencing the Alhambra (the Red Castle in English due to its pink walls), a Moorish fortress and palace.

It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites for good reason: it is a work of art. The site was first known to be occupied as a fortress named Alcazaba in the mid-8th century overlooking Granada from the vantage point of two hills. It became an extended fort in the 9th century. Then in 1238 Mohammed ben Al-Hamar, the first king of the Nasrid dynasty, established a royal residence within its walls, founding the Alhambra. At this time Granada became one of the most important centers in Muslim Spain. The castle was completed in the 14th century, then turned over to Christian rulers as the Moors withdrew. It was abandoned in the 18th century and work to restore it was finally begun in the 19th century. It has continued to be cherished for its astonishing artistic merit as well as its historic ever since.

Next: The Incomparable Alhambra

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To read the first part of Carol-Ann’s story of how she covers the glove with only a backpack published in iNews Cayman on August 11 2014 go to: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/all-the-worlds-an-island-correspondent-carol-ann-covers-the-globe-with-only-a-back-pack/






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  1. Barbara Longman says

    I was delighted to read Carol-Ann’s journey by train in Spain and her general observations through non European eyes . It brought happy memories of my travels by train round Spain in the mid 1960’s. There is very little wildlife generally in Spain and particularly central Spain. Am looking forward to her further observatioins especially the Alhambara, as I was there last year.

    • Carol-Ann Rudy says

      Thank you for taking the time to add such pleasant, kind words, Barbara! I hope you’ll continue to read and enjoy the forthcoming columns on the rest of my journey. Hopefully, we’ll both get to return to Europe sometime.

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