Gibralter was nice enough, when it wasn't POURING RAIN on my head. I don't think I could have been more wet if I'd jumped straight into the Strait (get it? Straight.. strait.. I'm so funny!). There is a colony of monkeys on Gibralter, and they are everywhere. I think I got some really nice monkey photos. There's also a cave, and you all know how much I love caves! OK, maybe you don't. Um, I love caves. A whole lot. They're really neat.
Now you know.
Malaga was nice too. Nice and WARM, that is! For some reason, the city reminded me of Honolulu, except with lousier sand and more history. Mostly I think it's because of the landscape - there is a long beach that curves outward, just like Waikiki, with the land sloping up into mountains not too far to the north, just like Oahu. Oh, and there are a bunch of high rise hotels next to the beach, also just like Waikiki...
There isn't a lot to see in Malaga - well, OK, there's this whopping great big gothic cathedral, and a thousand year old Moorish palace, but really, those things are all over the place down there. Mostly you just go there to enjoy the weather, which is what I did. I also got to say hi to Juliet, the British girl who was staying in the home stay with me in Madrid. (Hi Juliet! Hi Lisa!)
Friday I went out to Granada, which is up the mountains and a lot colder than Malaga. Of course, it was still 18 degrees (~65 F) but when I left Malaga, the temperature was 28! Saturday I finally saw the Alhambra.
The Alhambra gets a lot of press as being this fabulously beautiful complex left behind when the Moors were finally driven out of Spain, and it is, but it gets so much hype that I kept expecting more. Kind of like Star Wars I (except that really did suck). I've seen equally spectacular palaces in Istanbul, and even the Moorish palace in Seville had some amazing rooms (and it was in better repair, generally).
But it's definitely worth seeing. My favorite part was actually not in the Alhambra itself, but a separate estate called the Generalife, next to the Alhambra. It's mostly a long garden, with lots of little fountains and pools. Water is a central theme to the Moorish architecture, and that makes for some really spectacular gardens.
Saturday night I got on a bus... for fourteen hours... why didn't I take the night train, you ask? Because there's only one per day, and it was booked out (completo) days in advance. Even the last night bus was completo.
Combined with all the times I've seen "completo" on the doors of hostels, I'm really starting to hate that word.
Barcelona is nice, though. Yesterday I got to see some friends from Madrid who came out for the weekend, and spent the rest of the day orienting myself and checking out the city. The busking in Barcelona is fantastic! It's the best I've seen since the street Tango dancing in Buenos Aires, three years ago.
There are the usual complement of street statues and jugglers and musicians and so on, but many of them are actually really good. For example: yesterday as I watched the Iglesia Catedral de la Santa Creu turning golden in the sunset, a jazz quintet was playing tunes by the likes of Miles Davis. They had a lead sax instead of Miles's trumpet, and the mellow sax music filled the square. Down an alley there was a fellow by the name of Enrico del Torres singing opera with an enthusiastic backup choir of retirees. Both these acts were good, good enough that you wouldn't have minded paying to see them perform.
I gave both some change. Not a lot, because I need most of it for myself, but I did enjoy their music.
I saw a puppeteer bring a wooden frog to life, playing the piano and winking at the crowd. Down the street, a variant of the street statue performer was painted in white, sitting on a toilet with a whoopee cushion hidden inside, book in hands, pants around his ankles. He wasn't just a statue, however, and would make funny faces and try to get passersby to scrub the toilet with a nearby toilet brush. He was pretty funny.
There were other street statues that were entertaining, and singers, and bands. It was like stepping into another era, a time before radio and television and movies and the Internet brought all these things straight to you. These performances were different, more intimate, and in some cases like the puppeteer, almost a lost art.
Tomorrow I'm going to see a lot of Gaudi and continue my hopeless search for decent Spanish food. Hasta luego everybody!
PS: Postcards are in the mail. Well, more of them, anyway.