Category Archives: Granada

Strike & Hike

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November 14 was an important day across Europe. It was the European Day of Action and Solidarity, in which millions of labor union workers in 23 European countries joined together in protests and strikes. The strike of November 14 is the biggest Europe has ever seen, with an enormous workforce joining together in unity to make a statement to their policymakers. Their slogan, “we have no future!,” sums up their feelings, doubts, fears, and anger about the current situation.

For Spaniards, affected by the “crisis,” as they commonly call it, it was a day of national strike where over 80% of the workforce joined to protest against the government’s austerity measures that include public spending cuts in critical areas such as education and healthcare. The crisis has hit Spain especially hard, with their 26% unemployment rate making the United States’ 7.9% unemployment look like chump change. Some bigger cities were affected badly by the strike, with police cars being set on fire in Barcelona and bloody clashes between protesters and police in Madrid.

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Protesters on the main Ave in Granada. Police monitoring.

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The issue felt closer to me thanks to my professors, who fully supported and almost participated in the strike in their own ways. One professor cancelled class to attend a morning demonstration. The other surrendered control of the attendance list and only showed up to work because she believed it was an unjust practice to not pay workers for a day they take off to strike. Many others I know did a consumption strike, purchasing nothing on that day and not taking part in any work or school related activities.

As a foreigner I feel like it is not my place to protest for someone else’s government and try to make another population’s issue my issue. Instead, I tried to do my part by taking part in a strike against general consumption, heading into the Sierra Nevada for a day hike.

The hike I took is a popular one called Los Cahorros, easily accessible by Granada in the nearby village of Monachil. It is a circuit hike of 8km that takes about 2 hours to complete. For a relatively easy hike, it is very diverse and fun. It starts with a quick, uphill walk through the outskirts of the village to the beginning of a gorge. You cross a long, wood and cable bride to get inside the gorge where you walk along the river on a narrow shelf of rock, at some points being forced to crawl or grip rock outcroppings to slide by.

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After the end of the gorge there are plenty of open green spaces to relax and eat lunch along the river, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

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Beautiful.

Unfortunately, there was not much to continue the hike after this point as the path was blocked off nearly at the top of a nearby hill. I climbed past the barrier to see the view from the top but didn’t want to take a chance continuing further without knowing why the path was closed.

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The riverside walk was really cool, crawling half under caves and over ravines.

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A pretty kitty that made friends with us.

To find my way to and through this hike I used a guide created by the people of Trek Sierra Nevada, an excellent resource to people looking to explore this beautiful piece of Andalucia. On their website, http://www.treksierranevada.com/, you can find descriptions of many hikes with distance, difficulty level, estimated time, how to get there, and walking directions with a map. All the guides were written by the people who have actually done the walk themselves. I suggest anyone in Granada to take advantage of this bountiful resource to get outside the city and enjoy all that the Sierra Nevada has to offer!

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Street Art in Granada: A Photoessay

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Vibrant colors, detailed portraits, emotionally charged visualizations. You might find these things in an art gallery or a museum, by all you really need to do is spend an afternoon or two wandering around the streets of Granada to see some of the most stunning and personal art. At least to me, the graffiti and murals on the side of building and shops’ metal barriers are some of the most captivating works I’ve seen, not only describing the artist or the place, but the people of Granada and Spain as a whole.

We see not only some great creativity in making even the most boring things eye –catching and beautiful:

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But also Granada’s vibrant music scene:

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People making statements:

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And looks into the gritty reality of what has passed these walls:

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But then some things are encouraging and hopeful for the future:

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And you can tell these people take pride in their work, their city, their freedom, their people, and their county. They love what they’re doing:

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The art I find in the street speaks the most to me. It represents the person who is not represented elsewhere, whose art would not make it into a gallery or a museum. Some people such as Banksy, Os Gemeos, and Harper Ferry have managed to make strong statements through their street art and I like to recognize those artists who speak to their own people through a medium they encounter every day. This is one way I understand Granada.

The Red Fortress

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I didn’t really know what I was getting into at the time, but after trudging through the cold drizzle, up a massive hill, and fighting my way through hordes of tourists I finally got to see why the Alhambra is such a big deal.

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An artist’s depiction of the area below on the street leading the the Alhambra.

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To start off, even in the rain, hundreds of years after the colorful paint decorating walls and ceilings faded away and people have altered and “restored” the beauty, it still holds its original elegant and detailed beauty, where unbelievable effort way put into every single colored tile along with all the delicate-looking stalactite arches carved along the ceilings.

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Every single room I walked into made me stop and stare, and just as I thought it couldn’t get any better I walked into another, even more elegant and precise work of art, whether it was a trellised garden or a foyer.

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It also helped that I could tell our group’s guide absolutely loved his job. He passionately explained the history and reasons behind such minute details of the house, such as curved entranceways (so outsiders cannot look directly into the building) and the continuing motif of water (fountains, small rivers) and green (gardens, plants) to foster tranquility and peace.

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As the palace and fortress of the Berbers occupying the top of the tallest hill in the Albaycin, it shows the advanced skills and appreciation of beauty and elegance by the Muslim rulers that once occupied southern Spain before the Reconquista. You really have to go see it for yourself to truly believe and appreciate what a work of art it is. And while you’re at it, look out all the windows. The overlooking panorama of Granada and the Sierra Nevada is stunning.

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