Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Alhambra, More than just a Granada Beer Brand

If you talk to any tourist in Granada, they’ll tell you how they are going to/ have been to the Alhambra and that they bought their tickets months in advance. The Alhambra, the royal city of the various Sultans of Granada, has giant gardens of flowers, magnificent palaces and earth-colored walls that glimmer under the Andalucían sun. With more than eight thousand visitors a day, it is a hub of tourism and a source of pride for the city. It’s such an attraction that tickets are already sold out through parts of October.


Alhambra at sunset

Besides the fact it is a great place to people watch tourists dressed in crocs and desert hats, it is also a wonder of architecture. Every time I walk past its giant earth-tone walls, I feel insignificant and amazed by the ingenuity of the builders who constructed this gem. Here’s a little overview of the Alhambra so hopefully you can feel some awe as you read this through your computer screen with blurry eyes. The Alhambra is divided into four parts:


The flags on top of the Torre de la Vela, the biggest tower in the Alcazaba

The Alcazaba: This was the first part of the Alhambra that was built and was originally a small city complete with houses and baths. However, as the city expanded, the Alcazaba became a military fortress where the Sultan could retreat to if the palaces were overrun.


The Palaces: The palaces are actually three different palaces, each with its own unique architectural style. The two main palaces feature sprawling patios, beautiful throne rooms and intricate plaster and ceramic designs. The palaces are a place where you gaze with wonder but also think to yourself, this must have taken forever to build. For example, the ceramic pieces in the wall were each cut to shape using intricate designs, fired, painted and then placed in the wall, a time consuming and logistical nightmare.


Patio of Palacio de los Leones


Ceramic designs on the lower walls


Plaster designs on the upper walls


An average person in the Alhambra

The Medina: The Medina was the neighborhood for all the servants and slaves who worked in the royal city. It is important to remember that the Alhambra was place where only people with royal business or those who worked within its walls were allowed to enter. Thus, as average (or even above average) people, we probably would never be able to enter the city.

The Generalife: As if the city wasn’t enough, there are also sprawling gardens and another palace that make up the Generalife, the Sultan’s summer home, just outside the walls of the main city. To give you an idea of the intentions behind the building of the Generalife, the Sultan constructed it to resemble paradise, with decadent gardens of colorful flowers and a stairway lined with streams of water in the bannisters. When I walked in to the Generalife, I quickly decided that I would have enjoyed being a sultan and living in the palace, my summer allergies be damned.



Photo of Generalife patio with a random dude.


A Generalife garden

The Alhambra stands as a testament to a civilization that flourished long ago, before gothic churches, the Granada Cathedral and the Christian rulers. When the Christians conquered Granada, they were so in awe of the Alhambra that they chose to keep most of it intact. Since then, the Alhambra has continued to enamor those who lay eyes on it, including my friends and I who have viewed it from every angle. Whether it is strolling the grounds and watching the wild cats run through along the paths, climbing the mountain directly behind it and staring down at its sprawling buildings or taking it in from the calm of the square far below at night, the Alhambra is true beauty that I am captivated by every time I see it. Plus, if you ever want to open a business in Granada, you can simply put Alhambra in the name and it’ll fit right into the city.



Alhambra at night with an Alhambra bebida


Interning at FSG: Much More than Making Copies

On April 8th was the Día Internacional del Pueblo Gitano, a holiday that celebrates the first International Congress of the Roma people. The celebration included flamenco dancing, speeches and a throwing of flower petals into the River Genil in remembrance of the Nazi genocide of Roma during the Holocaust and other persecution in times since. Gitanos, which means gypsies in Spanish, still face marginalization in Spain and many community organizations are working to fix this.


Rio Genil with flower petals

I’ve been lucky to intern at one of these organizations, Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG), a EU funded non-profit that works directly with the Gitanos across Spain to help them access education and work opportunities. My internship has me in the classroom where people my age are learning skills that will help them gain employment and then complete an internship at a local business.

FSG Logo Real

These past months I have been in a class for people wanting to become waiters, where they learn the nuances of working in a restaurant. Because Granada is a large tourist destination, FSG teaches the students basic English phrases so that they can serve English-speaking tourists. While the teacher does teach some of the English, I help the students with pronunciation as the teacher is not a native speaker. It’s a blast to be working with people my age and trying to explain the difference between there, their and they’re, a difference that even I struggle with sometimes in writing. Another fun lesson was the pronunciation difference between sheet and shit.

While I’m teaching my friends in the class English words, they have taught me much more through their thoughts about Gitano culture, the Spanish government, and Spanish life. Their eagerness to tell me about their hopes and struggles has allowed to view the city and country I’m living in with both a more critical and appreciative outlook.   Also, just as I speak English very quickly and with lots of slang with my American friends, my friends in the course do the same in Spanish, which has been a challenge but has allowed me to improve my comprehension and grow my slang vocabulary. Now instead of saying muy bien, I can say que guay. Lastly, the people in my class are all super stylish and I’ve picked up a few style tips so look out fashion world.


With part of the class on a restaurant scavenger hunt

I think one thing that has made interning at FSG so interesting is that the U.S.’s Roma population is smaller and not as well known. However, America still has some of the negative stereotypes of gypsies that Spain has, such as them being dishonest or deceiving. FSG is trying to break these stereotypes that people have by making sure that Gitanos finally have equal chances for work and for getting an education and through educating Spaniards about Gitano culture. The stereotypes about Gitanos that I have heard in Spain and in the US are completely wrong and I’m reminded of this every time I go to FSG and spend time with both the motivated and genuine students and staff there. Thanks FSG for a wonderful internship so far!