Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trusting people

What makes us trust people?

When it comes to people we've known for a while, the answer's a bit easier - we've gone through some things together, we observe their qualities and faults, can more or less predict how they'll react in a certain situation, we might try judging them based on previous experiences.

But how about strangers? 

Whenever I tell people I travel alone, they ask me if I'm not scared (I guess everyone travelling alone gets asked that).
Whenever I tell people I stay over at strangers' homes, they look at me startled and ask if it's not dangerous (I guess many CSers/HCers get asked that).
And, surprisingly enough, the answer to both of the questions is no. A very strong no, without the slightest hesitation.

Why though? No idea. Maybe I'm that naive, maybe I think that it's normal, maybe it's because I've never gotten hurt. Or just maybe, it's because I believe people are good and they mean me (or others) no harm.
(Although someone's recently told me 'But you have no idea what they're doing when you're sleeping' and it got me wondering for the shortest of moments)

And looking at it from the point of view of a host - you invite a completely unknown person into your house, allow them to invade your home, your personal sanctuary for a while. You trust them with your own safety, as well as with all the things you own. I've had people give me keys to their houses within half an hour of meeting one another. What makes them trust me, not fear that I'll steal from them or go through their things when they're not around?

With sites like CS or HC, we do kinda feel reassured by reading the 'reference' section on each member's profile. The thing is that they're not as reliable as they should be, though - there's loads of sugar coating on one hand, sometimes you decide not to write anything bad even if the experience hasn't been completely positive on the other (I know, I've been there). Totally trustworthy or not, members' profiles still provide us with some kind of feedback and an overview of their past interactions with other people.

But how about meeting someone in a club (not THAT kind of meeting you perves! not talking about a ONS) and inviting them over to your family house for a while? 'Cause that's how I've ended up going to stay with E's family.
We met one night thru a mutual friend and 15 minutes into the acquaintance E'd already invited me to head home with her for a couple of days ('Where are you going next?' 'Not sure yet' 'I'm going to Cadiz for the weekend, come stay with my family!'). To say I was amazed would be an understatement.
Yes, E's an open and generous person, but that's still a rather quick invitation.

Now that I think of it, it might also have to do with the definition of a friend. 
To me, a friend has always been a person I knew I could trust, someone I've known for a while, someone who's 'proven' themselves in one way or another, who's been there for me (and vice versa of course).
But C has shown me a completely different approach - "Everyone's my friend, until they prove me wrong." 
Going by that one, trusting strangers isn't so surprising anymore.

What makes you trust a certain person?

Normally I don't even stop and think 'Do I trust them?', it comes naturally. However, there was one day in Spain when I not so much wondered if it was smart to trust my host or not, but when I couldn't help but wonder about the normality and abnormality of certain situations I find myself in while travelling. That in turn got me thinking about trust in general.

Let me paint the picture for ya - already from the profile of my host I could see it would be an interesting encounter. We met at the bus station and went to a beach (a nudist beach as the host was one) to chill a bit and eat lunch. After a couple of hours we decided to go home. I was packing my things into the car when I heard the host peeing in front of it. Suddenly it hit me - I'm in the middle of nowhere on the coast of Spain and a naked 50 year old guy whom I've met 3 hours ago and at whose place I'm going to spend the night is peeing 2 meters away from me. And so I started laughing to myself in order not to go about analyzing my mental health, or the lack of it.
Isn’t trusting people a wonderful thing? ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

22 hours later..

.. instead of 'when are you coming back?', all I'm hearing is 'where are you going now?'. Do people really get fed up with me that fast?

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Surprising how long a simple journey back home can take.. At the time of buying my return ticket I thought I was gonna be spending a couple of days in Barcelona and Madrid, so getting myself a flight back from the latter seemed like a grant idea. Not so much so when the plans had changed and I'd stayed behind in Andalucia.

What should be a 4-5 hour journey turned into a whole day spent on buses, planes and trains.
I left Jaen on a 7:30pm bus and arrived in the capital at 1am. The 40min delay we had caused my missing line 8 at Nuevos Ministerios (if you want to reach the airport by tube, then that's where you'd want to be), making me go back to O'Donnell and look for the shuttle bus (luckily those run every 40mins or so, 24/7). I reached the airport at 2:40am and looked for a spot to get some sleep before I boarded my plane at 6am. 10am is when I reached Cracow, went to the Market Square (oh, how I love that square!), ate some of my granny's pasztet (something like pâté ) that my uncle had brought me and got myself a ticket for the 1:02pm train to Warsaw.

Barely keeping my eyes open while waiting for my train in Cracow.
Collected my keys from K's and finally reached home at 5pm.

It has taken me almost as long as the journey back from Bombay! ..

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Oh, and I need to get my bike fixed for next week.. ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Que desastre

A little bit of what I've written a couple of days ago. Wanted to dedicate it to those who always complain about how much luck I have in life, enjoy.


For the first time since I can remember I’m feeling so defeated and out of luck that I just wanna sit down and start crying. Am already sitting, let’s see if the tears come as well.
Today’s been a nightmare - I’ve already managed to lose loads of time and bundles of cash, and it’s only 2:40pm.
I came to Cadiz yesterday in the afternoon and decided to spend the night there, having found a CS host and thinking I would just catch a bus or train to Jaen today in the afternoon (am going to Jaen to see one of the Semana Santa processions and meet with C, M and E). Just catch a bus or train my a.. .
I’ve been surfing the net at night and have found out there was one bus connection from Cadiz to Jaen, with a change in Seville at 11:15am and two trains – a normal one at 11:30 am and a more expensive express one at 6:00pm. The first two options weren’t too appealing because of the departure time, the third because of the price.
Got up very early (after coming back home at 5am) and set off to the train station. All peachy till the time I was told the train was full and I could only board the evening one. Normally I’d say I was lucky enough that the bus to Seville (option no.1) was leaving from the same spot and so I got myself a ticket. However, now I know I’d have loved it, had I not made it on that bus and stayed behind in Cadiz till 6pm. So I arrived in Seville at 12:55 only to find out that my 13:30 Jaen connection was leaving from a different bus station, about 20mins away by bus. I ran out to look for the bus stop and normally I’d say I was lucky enough that the C-4 bus came right away. However, now I know I’d have loved it, had I not made it on that bus and stayed behind at el Prado de San Sebastian. So I arrived at the other station, Plaza de Armas at 13:36 (20mins away my a.. ) and the only Jaen connection had just left. By the time I realized I wasn’t going to make it on the bus, I’d started looking for other options. C wrote me there was a bus going to Granada at 2:30pm and that later I could catch a ride with M&E. I decided I didn’t have much choice and went to buy myself a ticket only to find out the 2:30pm Granda bus leaves from el Prado de San Sebastian and it was 1:48pm. At that moment I seriously wanted to harm someone. There is a bus to Granada from Plaza de Armas at 4pm but it costs an arm and a leg and arrives in Granada at 7pm, by which time M&E are already supposed to be driving to Jaen. Graciously enough though, E said they’d wait for me to arrive. So I ended up buying the freaking expensive bus ticket for 4pm and went out of the station, which is in the middle of nowhere. And it was raining, of course. Normally, I’d try to use the 2 hours of free time I have to walk around the city and see something but am in no frame of mind to do so. Sleepy, hungry and poor doesn’t get you in the mood, if you know what I mean.

As a means of self-comforting I’ve found a Burger King and am munching on an awfully tasting cheeseburger, a thing I rarely do. The only good thing is that I won’t be thirsty, as they have refills in here. The bad thing is all the Nestea I’m drinking right now will probably emerge the moment I board my bus. I don’t really give a rat’s butt at this point though, if I’m to be honest. What I do give a rat’s butt is returning to the station on time, so I’m gonna finish this whinning post and head back. If I somehow manage to miss this bus then.. No, I don’t even wanna go there.

Ok, so I guess now I know why the bus was so expensive – it’s the most luxurious one I’ve been on. Comfortable semi-sleeper seats with seatbelts (mine’s in the single seat row by the window), little tvs, personal music inputs and minitables, a snack upon the entrance and a toilet for my Nestea.
As to the unluckiest day I’ve had in years – I left Burger King and started slowly walking into the direction of what I thought would be the train station. There I am,  walking at peace, feeling all good about myself, actually thinking how well my sense of orientation’s developed, and suddenly I reach a square which looks kinda too good and touristy for the part of town the station is located in. So I kinda start thinking that maybe it wasn’t the right direction after all and ask around for  Plaza de Armas, which the first couple of people don’t seem to know – not a great sign. Finally a waitress shows me the way and it’s the complete opposite of what I’ve been walking. I look at the clock and it hits me that I might actually miss the freaking bus!
I was too mad at myself and at Sevilla to enjoy my short walk around the city so was too lazy to even take out my camera and take a few shots. There were some nice buildings etc but I guess it’s the same old - after you’ve seen a couple of towns in the same region you kinda tend to get immune to some of the sights, at least I do. The interesting thing though was how people were dressed. At first I was surprised why everyone was so elegant and why all the restaurants and cafes were full on a Thursday at 2pm, until it hit me that it was Easter Thursday. Elegant clothes are nothing that interesting though, you might say. And you’d be completely right, with the exception of Sevillan women today.  I did overcome my photos-taking- laziness for like 2 minutes in the end so you could see this:

Oh, and about why the later train from Cadiz would have been that much better (apart from the obvious like not wasting the whole day in buses and the taking one train instead of two buses and a car ride part) – short after I’d boarded the bus to Sevilla I got a call from P – a CSer I met in Yunquera two weeks ago and with whom I was supposed to meet yesterday but we ended up missing each other  - that he was free to meet in the early afternoon and take me around on his bike. Need I say more?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On and off rain button

It turns out my luck might affect weather conditions as well..

As you know I'd opted for option 2, stayed behind in Granada and wanted to enjoy the beaches of Costa del Sol for a few days. Everything would have been peachy, if only the weather hadn't remembered it's still spring and instead of the 30 degrees we've been having last week, we should be having lots of wind and rain. So the weather fixed its ways. And, of course, it had to fix its ways the day I arrived in Torreguadiaro.

I've been putting off my visit to Ronda for the longest time now and when I finally got to go there, it was raining. I thought the town must have not liked me all that much, seeing how unwelcoming it was.
We (E, M, A, I* and myself) decided to grab a bite to eat as soon as we parked the car and decided to do it real quick, as it was beginning to rain real bad. And so we've found a surprisingly cheap place with surprisingly good food (bocadillo 2-3e, tapas 1e) - I can definitely recommend you Cafeteria Churreria Alameda on C/ Pozo nº 7 - 9 :) Otherwise, Ronda's very touristic and the prices are such as well.
We enjoyed our lunch and as soon as a tiny bit of sun showed up in the sky, we ran for it and left the warm cafeteria in order to see the town.  It was quite chilly and wet but the moment we got to the most picturesque and important place in town, the drizzle stopped and the sun graced us with its presence. And, what is more, stayed with us till the moment we got back to the car a couple of hours later, allowing us to enjoy the lovely scenery and even set off on a hike!

A still a bit rainy Ronda

A sunny and lovely Ronda

We got into the car and it started raining. A couple of minutes later we got surrounded by dense fog and that was about it for the nice weather that day.

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Today we wanted to see Tarifa and its famous beaches. However, the rain and cold didn't give us much hope for a successful trip. Yet again - we arrive at the beach and the sun is out.. Luckily for us, not that much of the famous wind or otherwise we'd have a rather hard time going for a walk. The vibe of this place is amazing- makes you wanna jump into the water and start kitesurfing right away! Even in spring with this crappy weather it's quite busy, I can only imagine how much entertainment Tarifa offers in the summer months.        

 It is true that rain chased us away from the beach after some time but it gave us just enough time to get some coffee in town and then the sun accompanied us during our walk through the town's streets. 

Tomorrow's pretty packed with sight-seeing so I hope the rain button doesn't have a malfunction!

I've tons of pics from those two days (some of them even quite decent!) but unfortunately my computer does have a malfunction, so will probably post them from back home in about a weeks' time.

*E - the girl who invited me to her house
M - E's friend from uni who came with us
A - E's brother
I - A's German gfriend


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good things come to those who wait

You know how I was spending day after day in Granada, not able to decide where to go and what to do next. So I told myself I would wait and somehow something or someone would make the decision for me, as it is usually the case in life - you either make it happen yourself or someone does it for ya.

And so on Tuesday night I went out with C, a friend from Granada, to see a stand up comedy show in Mae West (the most popular club in town and I can see why - such cool interiors!). We were joined by his friends and among them E, who ended up inviting me over to her house in a small town on the coast for a couple of days. We arrived yesterday, took a walk along the windy beach 

the marina full of Englishmen

and in the natural park.

Now I'm off for a paella lunch in the garden :)

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Haven't had internet access on my computer for almost two weeks so am way behind with uploading pictures. They're good though, so wait patienty and you shall receive :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where to now?

Ok guys, I think I need your help..

I'm lost - have too many cool options and don't know what to choose.

Option #1

Spend this week till the 17th going around the cities in Andalucia. On Sunday board a plane, fly to Barcelona. Enjoy it for a couple of days and then head to Madrid for a day or two and fly out.

Option #2

Spend this week on the coast discovering the apparently beautiful beaches along Costa de la Luz, south from Cadiz. Get back to civilisation when Semana Santa begins and experience the processions in Sevilla. Later move to Cordoba for a day and then around the 24th head out to Madrid to catch my flight back.

Option #3

Spend the next 4 days in and out of Granada, go to Cordoba on the 15th and on the 16th head to Portugal. Stay there for about a week somewhere around Algarve, probably make a one day trip to Lisbon. Then come back on the 22nd, try to catch some of Semana Santa in Seville and on the 24th head out to Madrid.

 Option #4

A thing or two about Granada

How can one not like a place where you can ski in the morning and then enjoy sunset sipping one’s favourite beverage on a picturesque sandy beach?

A place where they give one complimentary tapas ( varying from marinated fish, through sandwiches with fries, grilled octopus, sushi, Chinese, pasta, to Arab treats) with one's drink, and sometimes everything can be complimentary (if you’re blonde, that is ;) ).

A place so small one can walk everywhere in about 40 minutes and yet so diverse that with every passing 10 minutes one feels like in a different town altogether.

A place where flamenco is very much alive in the numerous Gypsy caves and in the place’s inhabitants’ hearts. Where one can choose to spend 15e one a professional flamenco show, 8e on a professional flamenco show, 6e on a semi-professional flamenco show or only the price of drinks if one chooses to have a laugh with 3 or 4 lovely Gypsy chaps trying to make it happen while singing and dancing their hearts out (and at the same time having problems with the mic, getting entangled in the cables and wearing aquamarine polyester shirts with lots of gold chains around their wrists and golden rings on their fingers).

A place where the walls are decorated with amazing street art and where historic buildings are not demolished by vandals who think their tagging’s art.

A place in which you find foreigners from all over the world on every corner but that has not become one of English, German or Russian colonies (like Frigiliana, Nerja or most of the places on Costa del Sol like Marbella).

A place with some of the coolest designer boutiques and chain stores one can imagine, which are mixed with 60s and 70s clothes second hand stores.

A place where you can live in one of the most picturesque and touristic parts of town - el Paseo de los Tristes, where visitors enjoy their coffee and snacks with the mighty Alhmabra in the background, and yet after less than a ten minutes walk find yourself lying atop a hill, listening to the river flowing down below and the birds chirping up above, surrounded by such views:

Simply put, a place where you can enjoy life.

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I have to admit it took me 2 or 3 days to fully give in to Granada. Whenever I talked to someone who’d been here I’d hear: “Oh, Granada..” with this longing in their eyes. I didn’t see it at first, but the more time I spent walking around the town, the more I liked it. And it’s been almost a week now, spent walking around. From simple wandering about on my own, through a guided tour with M and some nights out with other CSers, to a flamenco scene mini-tour my friends made sure I got. 

Granada truly does seem to have everything – a big student community with a happening nightlife, nice architecture and important touristic sights, charming alleys of Albaicin and Sacramonte, Indian-Arab stores along the Calle de Elvira and north from it, a good shopping street and peaceful mountains couple of minutes away from the city center.

Unfortunately for me though, it makes you lazy to move around the region, especially if you’ve met some cool people here and are tempted to just stay behind and live the good Granadian life for a while..

Oh, and have I mentioned the enchanting flowery smell of spring in Granada?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cambios, cambios, cambios

Soo.. a lot of changes.
I was supposed to fly out to Barcelona on the 17th, have already bought my ticket and all, but I think I'll just forget about it and stay in Andalucia till the last moment, so the 24th or so. Semana Santa (Easter) is supposed to be insane in here with huge processions, the most famous in Sevilla. There's been some personal changes, let's call them, and now as I don't feel the need to go to Barcelona at this given time, I'll stay behind and enjoy the southern celebrations.

Don't really have internet access in here, so haven't been updating much but have seen some cool places and met interesting people, all about which I'd love to write you about but I guess later is the time to do so :)
Also, lots of pictures waiting to be published!

But no time to waste on the net, so am off to hike a bit.
Q tengan un buen dia!

Monday, April 4, 2011

No eres Polaca, tu eres Colombiana!

Hello from Granada!

Have just reached a flamenco school my friend teaches/learns at. Am sitting on the balcony, surrounded by flowers, listening to the numerous birds' songs and watching the sun get ready to settle down for the night behind the rooftops of the city. It's amazingly simple, yet so fulfilling..

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Yesterday afternoon was a bit unnerving as I couldn't contact a friend I was supposed to be staying with and ended up in a rainy Granada without a roof over my head. Luckily a sweet Greek CSer, K, took care of me and provided with shelter, good food and some girl talk.

Today I was supposed to get up early, take a walk around and meet K, my primary school friend and the flamenco dancer, in her school. However, I got shamelessly lazy and spent the early afternoon chatting with A, Greek K's Polish flatmate. Then K came back from uni, she made us good lunch and the least I could do was share some Indian stories and photos in return. Ended up leaving her place quite late and took my time to reach Escuela Carmen de las Cuevas. Wandered around the town for about two hours and somehow, again not really using the map, got to some of the city's highlights and ended up exactly where I needed to. Everyone loves Granada and its atmosphere, I think it'll be pretty easy for me to fall for it as well..

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As for the weekend -
Friday evening we had a huge dinner together at the camp (by 'we' I mean around 60 people or so). Everyone brought some food, be it mom's speciality,  salad, cake, some fruit or cheese and bread. There was so much good food I couldn't stop myself from trying something new every 5 minutes and ended up majorly overeating :) Too bad I was eating so much I didn't think about taking photos of what was on our plates! 
We then started goofing around and dancing, with some people going to sleep quite early to be rested for Saturday's canyoning, some at round 4:30 am like me and the rest in true Spanish style in the early morning. It's during the dancing that I've been told I should go to Latin America and that I'd enjoy myself there immensly (I would imagine my hip movements had something to do with the assumption).

Saturday started quite early, at 10:30 am we were waiting to be guided to the canyoning spot. I think there was some misunderstanding between the organisers and the company, as the guide came an hour later. Or maybe it's just the Spanish stretchable time :) 
The whole canyoning session was supposed to last about 4 hours but it took 5,5. By the end of it we were cold, hungry and sleepy, thus quite moody and complaining most of the time. The beginning and the middle part of the whole experience were amazing, though! So happy I've decided to do it!
The views were great, the water nicely chilly and the few adrenalin rushes addictive. Already in Malaga I was beginning to think about changing this trip from a city-oriented to a nature-oriented one and canyoning made me think about it so much more. Thus, today and tomorrow I'll need to figure out if I want to go through with the Cordoba-Seville-Cadiz-Ronda route, or whether I'd prefer to spend most of my time hiking in the mountains. It's quite surprising to me - before coming I thought I'd be partying a lot and living a very quickly paced life but I end up chilling, wandering around and taking things slow. Will have to see where my mood takes me in the end.

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And that's how the sky looks as I'm finishing to write this:

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's fiesta time!

Till now I've been a very good girl, walking and sight-seeing a lot, home before 10 pm and sleeping at least 6,5 hrs a night..

All's about to change 'cause I'm going for a CS event called La Fiesta de la Primavera. We're going camping, will be having parties, canyoning, bbqing, hiking.. There's even some band coming down to play tomorrow night. Can't wait!

See ya after the weekend!
If I don't get lost or die crossing some river, that is.