For those of you who may or may not know – I have a best friend. She moved to Spain last year to follow her dreams and aspirations to explore another part of the world. We met in first year university and we’ve literally been inseparable ever since. Anyone who knows our relationship – knows its very unique, solid and entertaining! I don’t tell her enough but she’s literally one of the best parts of me!
So after she moved last year, I knew i had to visit her sooner or later. And so came later – Jan 2015, one year since we’ve seen each other, I got on a plane and headed to Spain. My first stopover was in Madrid, just for the day, before i headed to Granada. I spent 8 hours in the city by myself and man am I glad i did. I haven’t traveled alone to Europe so I was a tad nervous. My plane landed at 8am, and I left my luggage in transfer and headed to the bus terminal in the airport and got a one way ticket (5 Euros) to Plaza Mayor in Madrid. I have never witnessed such incredible architecture and historical sights like I did when I first got off the bus. The buildings were intricate and this basically applied to every standing structure. The weather was perfect, the streets clean and the people so friendly! To my surprise, I walked into a historic looking building with the word “ZARA” plastered across it. Now, you must check out the Zara stores when you go! They have such amazing variety and are much cheaper than North American stores!
To watch my adventures from Madrid click on – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ6J77FyfOk
So after 8 hours of sightseeing, I got an hour long flight to the beautiful city of Granada where my bestie resides. I got my luggage and grabbed a cab to the centre of Granada where she lived. It cost me 30 Euros for about a 20 minute ride – not bad. The driver dropped me at the wrong place but with the address on my phone, I managed to find a delivery guy who helped me get to my destination. Dragging my luggage on the cobblestone was a pain in my rear. Her building was a cutesy structure and I instantly fell in love with the balconies. I climbed 3 stores where her sweet roommate let me in. She was working so I made myself cozy in her bed and fell asleep. God knows how much time later, I woke up to an “OMG!” and I jumped out of bed and we scrambled to hug each other (we never hug). It felt soooo good to see her! I can’t explain the feeling but the realization that I spent a year without her, came pouring down in that very moment. We literally picked up where we left off and the familiarity of it all felt SO comforting. That night we spent in pjs, eating home baked pizza, chips and chocolate – just like old times. A few hours passed, we both got into bed – set ground rules (stay on your side, don’t snore, don’t take my portion of the blanket, yaddi yadda) and went to sleep.
Day 2 in Spain rolled around, we got dressed and headed to her work place where she needed to sort through some paper work. Her walk to work everyday was a stunning 20 minutes and by stunning, I mean more scenic than any walk to work I’ve ever taken. We walked all day (almost 8 hours) to Albaicin, Mirador de san Nicolas, Mesquita Mayor and Sacramonte! After strolling for several hours, we stopped at a halal kabab joint in which one of the waiter’s was Pakistani (like me!). We befriended him simply because he was just such a nice guy! Sadly, I forgot his name. He told me how there was a community of maybe 200 Pakistani people in the city of Granada and that obviously thrilled me! After dinner, we headed home to relax before we got dressed for the evening. We went to a local small bar for non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
Day 3 and we got out of the house midday to head out to Alhambra and Plaza Nueva. This was one of my favourite days. To understand why – watch here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50fqAroDBQI
Everything was incredibly beautiful. Although the walking was a little strenuous, I was so grateful to be sharing this with my best friend as my tour guide. She showed me everything and gave me a new found appreciation for her home away from home.
Our fourth day finally came after a long night in which we lazily got up, took our time with getting ready because our goal for the day was simply to catch the sunset from Mirador de san Miguel alto. We walked around pretty aimlessly all day but I really got a chance to explore more of Granada as we traveled through different residential districts from where I grasped an understanding of where people lived. A friend of Ferriyals joined us for the sunset and that was an interesting experience in itself as he didn’t speak a word of English and I, a word of Spanish. We managed to communicate through hand gestures, broken English and smiles. He was super sweet and hospitable. We took a bus up to the lookout and to see what we were looking out on – click on this link to watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okfJCPe3DoI
With the final day in Granada, we didn’t have any concrete plans because we were just so exhausted. We were also leaving for Seville the next day, early in the AM. The weather wasn’t necessarily cooperating either, yet we chose to walk around and do a little bit of shopping. We went to Zara and picked up a few items. We couldn’t get too many things (despite the crazy sale) since Ferriyal needed all the luggage space she could get to bring back as much as she could home to Toronto. With that said, we took the day to pack up a lot of her life, get empty boxes and chill at home. On our last night, we watched a movie in bed and slept relatively early knowing we had an 8am bus to catch to Seville.
6:30 AM – Ferriyal is up. 6:45 – I’m up. 7:05 – We are out the door to take the local bus to the bus terminal to catch our 8am. We get on the first bus about 10 minutes later where the driver suggests we catch the express across the street. We gather our luggage and head across the street in which we waited for the bus for what seemed to be the longest 10 minutes of our lives. It was practically 7:30 by now and our bus was departing in half an hour. We stayed calm (not really). With relief, we got on the bus to then notice that this express was literally stopping at every stop and every light God gifted Granada. 7:45 – anxiety kicked in. 7:50 – we hated each other. 7:55 – the driver told us we’re about 15 away. Deep down inside, something said the bus was gone but denial had already set in. We finally got to the station and at 8:04am, rushed to the stop (HOME ALONE AIRPORT SCENE STYLE) where there.. was.. no… bus. It had left. RIGHT. ON. TIME. Ferriyal cried. Another 22 Euros later, we were scheduled for a ride, 2 hours later. We sat in the station, where we mainly moped and died a little from the cold. Finally we got on our 3 hour bus ride in which we slept the entire way and didn’t even mutter 2 words to one another. It was the perfect road trip. *Just for your sake Ferriyal – we’re in the army…now.*
Anyways, when we arrived, we took a cab to our boutique hotel, which I must say I’m so glad bestie chose. It was called Hotel Simon in the Old town. This place had so much character and it was a cheap 70 Euros! Here we freshened up, dropped off our bags and went out to explore Plaza Espana. Heres a link to see what we saw – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guhLPSkgH1o
Now that I can sit back and adequately reflect on the peak and pit of my trip – without even thinking twice, i know that the highlight of my trip was to experience a foreign place with my best friend. Not everyone gets a chance to visit their closest in a place like Spain. Without her, i would have never been able to walk away with an appreciation of Spanish music, dancing, tapas, the language, rituals and Zara, the way I do now. So thank you Ferriyal Zahra Malik, for opening up your home to me. Thank you for showing me your love through your eyes and experiences. It has truly been the best gift you have ever given me! i am so genuinely proud of everything you’ve accomplished!