At approximately 7:30 on the morning of May 7th, 2014, our group of 19 intrepid explorers accomplished the impossible, or at least the highly improbable: we navigated the Madrid metro system, with luggage, and did not lose anyone.
No, I insist. Hold your applause.
In all honesty, we were fairly impressed with ourselves. The Madrid metro stations have a painful amount of stairs, and our group was, on the whole, terribly under-caffeinated.
We basked in the glory of this great triumph as our train departed Madrid and began the slow, swaying journey southward. We wove our way through rolling hills cross-hatched with crops, passed though provincial towns, and at least once sped past a castle perched over its surroundings. We alternately enjoyed the views and buried ourselves in scholarly pursuits, until after four and a half hours we arrived in the desert city Granada, last stronghold of Islamic Spain, final bastion of the Moors.
The Islamic presence in Granada was evident to us immediately upon arrival. The “al-“ prefix is ubiquitous, the keyhole arch windows feature prominently in architecture, and the cuisine is distinctly Mediterranean, particularly in the Albayazín, the Arab quarter. The magnificent Alhambra palace (which we tour tomorrow!) dwarfs the town, an ever-present reminder of Granada’s past. Both the coexistence and the clash between religions are clear in Granada, where a building that features Islamic arches and a eight-pointed star is only a few kilometers from a cathedral that was built upon the remains of a mosque.
Already, finding our way around the steep, narrow, winding streets of Granada is challenging, and our maps and shoes are worn. However, the richness of Granada’s culture and the miraculous sights are plenty rewarding. Besides, as already proven, the members of Honors DOC are now experts in feats of incredible strength.
Lillian Tiarks – English