Saturday, 26 September 2015

Gypsy Dreams in Andalucía!

Hi guys!

I know I am WAY behind with posting, but I have finally arrived in Spain! About a week and a half ago I flew into Granada, the capital of Andalucía, and for the past few days I've been staying in a hostel in Baza, the medium-sized rural Spanish town which I now call home.

The past several days have been filled with getting a bank account, not getting a SIM card, getting a SIM card, getting locked out of the Immigration Department, getting bureaucracied by the Immigration Department, getting thoroughly underwhelmed by the Immigration Department, getting the hell out of the Immigration Department, escaping to Baza, learning Spanish words for apartments, looking at apartments, getting brain-fuzzled in Spanish, dropping into my school, meeting everyone single teacher at my school, getting brain-fuzzled in Spanish again, running out of apartments to look at, setting off the detectors in the supermarket on a daily basis and walking every inch of Baza until you could hire me as a tour guide. Yeah, I've been a bit busy. Also everyone thinks I'm way cool because I'm from Australia and I speak good Spanish - I can only vouch for the veracity of the first part though! Anyway, here's some pictures of Granada and Baza:

Granada Cathedral by night

The street beside the hostel, Granada

The monastery of Saint Geronimo

Plaza de la Merced, Baza

Avenida Jose de Mora, the main street of Baza

An 'earmacy' in Granada

The trees along the roads are orange trees!

Another building in Granada

Plaza Mayor, Baza

An alleyway in Baza

Parque de la Constitucion, Baza

Looking east over Baza

Baza by twilight

Looking southeast from the Baza municipal library

Parque de la Alameda, Baza

This park has real trees and grass!

UPDATE: I have an apartment! Moving next week just before classes start.  I'm now in every sense a settled resident of Spain!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

An Gearasdan

It's been four days of absolutely stunning weather here in Fort William, probably the best I've had since I've been in the UK. It's ironic, because the other staff are telling me daily that this is unusual and it's normally horrible and rainy. Four days in, they're looking a little foolish and I'm still laughing!

Welcome to Scotland, folks! I'm aware that I'm egregiously behind with the blogging; I apologise, and I'll make it up when I have time. At the moment I'm in the Highland town of Fort William, known in Gaelic as 'An Gearasdan', or 'The Garrison'. I'm on my second HelpX placement as the daily cleaner at the Fort William Backpackers, and it's pretty fun so far. I'm working with several different people, including Pablo and Javi from Spain, Laureen from France and Reggie the night porter from England, as well as Caroline the manager from Canada, and the work's pretty straightforward - stripping and remaking beds, washing sheets, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, vacuuming and mopping.

I'm done by lunchtime while the four-hour cleaners finish up, so I've had afternoons free to do my own thing. My first day I curled up miserably on the couch all day drinking orange juice and jelly while my body pulsated with a flu-like virus I picked up on my travels, but thankfully I made a full recovery overnight and since then I've gone for cruises on Loch Lhinne (Fort William sits on the shore), hiked the substantial Cow Hill behind the hostel, explored ruined Inverlochy Castle and rambled through the town.

Fort William started in the 1600s as a defensive settlement, built by order of and named for William of Orange. It's right at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, so a lot of the people here are hikers doing the 6+ hour trek up and down. The whole area is full of beautiful mountains with lochs in the valleys. We had some great, clear views of 'the Ben' from the loch cruise, and again today up Cow Hill of the whole Highland region. Oh, and today I met some Highland cattle! I gave them and their lovely horns a wide berth :)