Sunday, March 30, 2003

The Carthaginian Rose: Vol. 1‏

Hello one and all!

I'm so sorry that I haven't had a chance to write you all a serious email earlier in my trip. It was my sincere intention, and then I wasn't able to find an internet cafe in Paris because of our schedule. So, now that I'm in Granada in Spain, I finally found this cool place and I have a little bit of time to write.

First of all, I thought I was going to like Paris. In fact, I did at first. However, (and I will just have to go into more detail when I speak with each of you personally), by the end of my week in Paris, I could not WAIT to get the fuck out of there-pardon my French! :-) I am so disappointed, it's really rather depressing. I think it's just that Paris was such an overwhelmingly large city...just so goddamn huge that I had trouble adjusting. I mean, I've been to Prague and loved it (city of appr. 2-3 million), but Paris has around 12 million or some ridiculous figure like that. I was sick every morning getting up and thinking about going out into the insanity.

And then there was the Metro.

The Metro was the bane of my trip to Paris. It was high tech in a very few spots, but completely archaic in others. The steps were endless, the people pushy, and for those who care, there was absolutely no handicapped access whatsoever, which really got on my nerves. You had to literally be able to hop on and hop off in about 2 seconds or the doors would have shut on you and you would be dragged to a messy and untimely death. I hated the whole fucking thing.

And then there were the blisters.

OK, the US, particularly the midwest, is not a walking culture. We live in a country where even thin people get in their cars and drive 1.5 miles to go to the gym where they work out. We simply do not walk everywhere we go. On top of that, please take into account my status as a woman of size, and you can see where there might be problems. I had blisters on each of my pinky toes by the end of day one, thanks to Pernille's well-meaning desire to keep me conscious all day in order to stave off jet-lag. This only ended up making me miserable for every aching, pinching, agonizing step that I took for the complete remainder of my stay in Paris. It was wretched in every sense of the word. Poor Pernille had to walk slowly with me as I minced along, helplessly watching cripples, old ladies with canes, and even midgets running along ahead of me. Literally, the people in this city run around like they are perpetually late for a plane. I hated it.

So, Shannon, did you like anything in Paris? The easy answer is, yes, there were some things I definitely liked. The things I didn´t will be expounded upon in person. What I liked was the food, and the weather. And Pernille's friend Birgitte, who very kindly let us sleep in her flat (that was absolutely no bigger than my dorm and for which I understand she pays over $1000/month).

And then I took the overnight train to Madrid. Sick with nerves, feet aching, and stuck overnight with two old Spanish didn't seem very promising. Well, I tossed and turned all night, being jostled by the train, but I did manage to sleep. At one point, I accidently dropped my CD player on the head of the woman sleeping underneath me!!! When I finally got to Madrid, I had to find sustenance at the train station and then it was on to the airport to pick up Jennifer.

Once I was with Jen, things started to go so much better. For starters, Spain is completely laid back compared to Paris. I felt like I could breathe again! Anyway, after a completely meager dinner in the train station, Jen and I were on our way to Granada!

We got in here very very late last night, after spending an endless amount of time on the train (which got off to a late start anyway). Our hotel was closed up, but after ringing the bell, a woman who spoke no English (but was good at miming!) checked us in and took us to our room which was right around the corner.

This hotel, the Hostal Arteaga, is very quaint. It's on a side alley, and it's very small and the rooms are all unique. Our room has a very high ceiling, maybe 12-15 feet, the walls are painted lilac, and the floor is tiled. The bathroom is large and airy, with a shower that conveniently allows large amounts of water to pool on the floor. The beds have definitely seen better days. Jen almost sank to the floor when she sat down on hers. Since I had been roughing it on an air mattress and a train couchette, I was allowed the bigger of the two beds, which happily did not sink to the floor when I sat on it. :-)

This morning, after realizing that we had not adjusted Jen's alarm clock to reflect the time difference between London and Spain, we hurridly dressed and ate and tried to make our way to the Alhambra, the biggest tourist attraction in all of Spain and quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

There are few words to describe the beauty of this palace/fortress that was built, I believe, by the Moors. I took a million pictures though, so you will all be able to see what I´m talking about. Jennifer and I wandered from room to room, slowly taking in the staggering amount of effort and dedication that went into creating such a masterpiece of Moorish architecture. All of the arches, tiling, carvings, was almost too much. After 3-4 hours, we finally came down from the mountain-hill it sits on and now I am here in the internet cafe. A neat conjunction of the ancient world and our modern one.

So far, I have loved pretty much every moment I've spent in Spain and I can´t wait to see more. Tonight we take the bus to Malaga, on the Mediterranean. Hopefully, it will be sunny enough to go to the beach. If not, it should at least be relaxing to hang out in town.

I miss all of you and I wish you could be here to see all this. :-) I don't know when I'll be able to write again, but I'll try. Take care and I'll talk to you all soon!!

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