Friday, January 31, 2014

dreadlock city

I don't think I've been to a place and seen so many people with dreads. In the 50s or 60s the ad campaign for VW in North America was something like "not a minute go by without you seeing a VW Beetle". Well the same happens in Granada: not a minute goes by or you cannot walk more than one street without running into someone with dreads. Some look and I have to be honest, bad! Some others look good while some girls look abso-fucking-lutely  HOT! Twice I tried to let my hair grow in order to have dreads and twice end up a complete failure. The last time I ended up with a off-centre greenish mowhawk.

The other day, a friend of mine wrote to me: "go out, make friends... Tallinn is in the past". Later that day he sent an email telling that he was joking. Maybe he was but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Is it really time to move on and "explore the world"? I like Tallinn and Estonia in general, that's no secret but at the same time there are so many places left to go. After traveling Latin America with my SO of the time and ended up completely worn out, I decided to change my mindset about traveling: no more hurrying to place to place. For the time being, I'm going to stay here for a while. Fuck knows what I'm going to end up doing. We'll see. I'm not going to worry about things that are not happening yet but can't get them out of my head. I'm starting to meet new people, at least I have that part covered.

I always like to meet other hitchhikers. I met Vine in Sevilla where we hung out. Then he came to Granada and we hung out more! He's hitchhiking round the world. He told me he's going to do it for about 4 years. I say he's going to take more. I have been on the road more than 4 years and still haven't even been to half of the world! 

It's very easy to get lost in the narrow winding (and steep) streets of Albayzín (or Albaicín). All street look the same! I think it's going to take me a while to remember the shortcuts to some places. I'm going to stick to the streets I know so I won't be late to wherever I'm going.

The days are getting chillier. I think february is the coldest month of the year. The good think is that days are getting longer. Spring will be here soon. I wish I'd brought another pair of shorts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

roaming around Andalusia

I'm in Spain for fuck knows how long. I want to explore the region I'm in: Andalusia. In the month I've been here I have only been to two places: Úbeda and Sevilla.

Spain is alright. Maybe is just that I'm used to Northern/Eastern European countries for so long that I feel like I don't belong here. I even feel more comfortable speaking English than Spanish.

There are three things I will never get used to it while I'm living here. The first one are cañas: who the fuck drinks a beer so small? In what kind of parallel universe I ended up that they don't know what a proper beer is? The second thing being the fucking siesta. Sometimes I have a few things to do and go to some place but by the time I got there is past 14:00... and they stay closed until 17:00. I don't have the mood to stay walking around for three hours waiting for the damn store to open! And last but definitely not least, they don't know about the existence of proper heating and insulation. It's not as cold as other places I had been but it feels like it's even colder. In those other places they do have proper heating and insulation. You could walk naked inside if you want to!

Alright, enough complaining. Like I said, Spain is alright. I went to Úbeda the other day. It's a small town about 150kms North of Granada. It's a small cute little town of about 40000 people. One of the notable Ubetense people is famous singer songwriter Joaquín Sabina. Famous at least in Spain and Latin America.

Didn't know what to expect from Sevilla except that I was going to meet with some people there. I was told that it was bigger than Granada, that it was warmer, that it was this, that it was that. It was alright. I like Granada more but I like the fact that it's flat and not hilly like Granada! Also no dogshit but in some part they have horse shit! 

I said it before and I'll say it again: it's not about the pretty sights (although the flat part I loved it!) it's about the people. In the hitchgathering FB group I agree to meet with a guy named Vine. It's always nice to meet other hitchhikers and we both met with a Croatian hitchhiker living in Sevilla, Alica. 

And while still in Granada I met Natallia, Viktoryia and Stephen. I met with them again in Sevilla. It was brilliant! I just wished we had more time together over there. I know we'll meet again, I'll make sure of that. They're not still not that far away, not just yet at least. Until next time I ask qué hora es?

Coming back, Granada welcomed me back with rain and cold. It's still cold but at least it's sunny. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

part IV, all roads lead to: Granada

It took me a while to write because I was writing some shit for my friend's website. What do you know, I'm going to paid to write. I'm actually will get paid to write some shit about my traveling experiences. Eventually tho. Don't get upset at me, finally I'm writing something to keep you busy for a while.

I had a volunteer position lined up in one of the top rated hostels in Granada. It was going to be only for a few weeks. 

What can I say about Granada. My expectations were really high thanks mainly to Christian. He told all kind of marvelous things about this town that I was expecting only the best. Don't get me wrong, the city is very nice. 

There is an old neighborhood, Albayzín. It's the old arabic neighborhood situated on a hill overlooking The Alhambra, which honestly didn't amaze me at all. Both Albayzín and The Alhambra are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It's actually not the first time that I'm living in World Heritage Site.

Since I started traveling I have been having snowy and non-snowy winters. This year's turn was not snow. I have to be honest tho, I really miss the sound the snow makes when you're walking. I miss a lot of things about winter. I was talking with my friend and she told me that she's a "north person". I think I'm also one of those weird people that likes cold winters. I miss Estonia. I miss the short winter days. I miss freezing my balls walking to Rimi to buy a frozen pizza. I miss going to Kodu. I miss you.

But Granada is also the shit. As much as I miss all those things, including the snow, I'm also enjoying very much that I can go for a walk wearing havaianas and wearing only a sweater. There's also snow and mountains! Yes, real mountains. And guess what, you can ski up there. The Sierra Nevada is covered in snow year round I think. I have to start getting fit, because I owe Justyna a hike to the mountains, but living in Albayzín will for sure get in shape... or kill me!

One thing that I can rally get use to is the whole tapas thing. The other night I went to a tapas place and with every beer you get to choose between 18 different types of tapas! You can order a different one each time you order a beer! One thing tho, the beers in this part of the world a cute: 20-25cl. I would rather have more alcohol than food but still, it's a fair offer.

So fellas, this is the place I'm going to be living for the next few months. Not sure how long I will stay. I mean, I wouldn't like to be here for summer. Like I said before, I more of a north person and I've heard that summers here can be quite hot ~45ºC. That is just too much for me. But then again, it's only january to be making future decisions. We'll see (with your lovely accent).

There is a street with my surname and a hotel and a restaurant!

And the streets are full of dogshit!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

all roads lead to Granada, part III: Tapas!

When I told Christian that I had heard somewhere something like "when you meet nice people, you always meet them again", well, he didn't believe me. I met him in february in Budapest. We met again at the hitchgathering in august and now I was going to stay with him in the center of Madrid.

I kinda had the chance to go to Madrid a few years ago but I decided not to. I don't regret that decision but Madrid it's actually a nice place. People everywhere but still nice. Maybe it was because it was before Christmas but still. The only time I barely saw people was the day I left and it was because it was early. Train station was a bit crowed tho. 

I didn't know what to expect from this city except that I knew it was big. Didn't see much of it, mostly the area of Callao, in the middle of Madrid. There is a metro station really close meaning that the flux of people is huge. But the fact that is in the center and is a very nice area means that there is everything within walking distance: shops, pubs, restaurants, supermarkets.

One thing I really wanted to try was the culture of tapas I heard so much about. You order a caña and you get a plate of snacks that can range from simple fries to pork or steak or whatever other yummy thing you can imagine. I know refer to cañas a "cute beers". Why cute, because they are really small, I think they are about 20cl. If you order a tubo, then you get "the big beer": about 25cl. What the hell? a quarter of a beer? Funny thing is that the other day I had a cute beer and felt tipsy afterwards... don't ask.

Christian showed me around the area. Met his friends, his flatmates. All in all was a very nice stay. I also got the chance to meet again with Oscar, a friend of mine from Guatemala whom I hadn't seen hi in over 4 years. The last time I saw him was when I organized his farewell party because he was off to Spain to do a masters in something. Now, he's going to have a PhD in something. I actually don't know in what exactly but good for him. He's been in Spain for quite a while now. Happy that was able to catch up with him after that long.

I wanted to spend NYE in Portugal with some friends but the work exchange situation changed a bit. I was needed right away in Granada. So I had to leave. If I don't go to Granada I might lose the chance to volunteer over there. I had to take it. 

So many people say that hitchhiking in Spain is hard. This was going to be my first attempt at doing it and it was going to be alone and it's winter. The good thing is that is not very cold. Can get chilly but nothing I cannot handle.

The main issue with many people when they hitchhike here is that they don't speak Spanish and spaniards and not know for their english speaking skills. Spain don't really have a hitchhking culture and people are not really used to do hitchhiking like their neighbors for example. By neighbors I mean both France and Portugal. If you stand on the side of the road be prepared to wait a few hours before getting picked up. What works best is to approach drivers and talk to them so they will see that your mum was right in thinking you are a good boy/girl. One other thing: don't listen to truck drivers that most likely never hitchhiked before telling you that there is a petrol station 5 minutes away where there is more traffic and lots of cars and trucks stop to tank before heading south. DON'T LISTEN TO THEM! I listened to the driver and walked not 5 min but 30, an hour including the return trip. The other petrol station had more traffic, that is true but that traffic was in the vast majority local, like 95%. The remaining 5% was going the opposite direction, back to Madrid. Not really sure how can that be possible as the petrol station is on the side leading south. Anyways, that  's what that 5% of the drivers told me. Oh! and I saw only one truck. And to make things even more brilliant, there were some construction works do there entrance was also the exit causing a traffic jam. Fuck this shit, I'm going back to the other one.

15 min later I found a straight ride to Granada.