Friday, April 6, 2012

Hat tournament in Granada

Two weekends ago I went to Granada for an ultimate hat tournament with Hannah, Hermann, Justin, and Andy -- just happened to be the same crew that I went with to the Canary Islands.

I'm told the BMW that Hannah was given from her car rental company is a sweet car.

Hannah driving the BMW
We drove down Friday afternoon and arrived in Granada that night.  Finding a spot to park was fun.  People were practicing for the Semana Santa processions that are taking place this week, so we got stuck behind them a few times.

Next thing we know, we're driving through these narrow "streets" -- no other cars in sight, up a hill, around some curves, when the walls get even closer together and we're not sure if our rental car will fit.

Tight squeeze - will we make it?
We stop and get out to stretch our legs, but then a taxi pulls up behind us.  We'll call it Taxi A.  He gets out and we tell him that we're not sure if we'll fit up this street.  He tells us just to pull in the mirrors; of course we'll fit.  There's another taxi up the "road" a bit, Taxi B, so driver of Taxi A walks up to talk with the driver of Taxi B for a second, to make sure he'll let us all get through.

Meanwhile, a second taxi pulls up behind us, we'll call it Taxi C, and he's anxious to get through.  Driver of Taxi A walks back down to us and says we can't get through; the police have cut off these roads due to procession practice (for Semana Santa).  (Yet somehow the three taxis and us had gotten into this neighborhood!)  Turning around is out of the question: we'd all have to back out the whole way we'd come in.  (I was super relieved that I wasn't driving this weekend; Hannah was a champ).

So Taxi C started reversing through these tiny passageways, down the hill.  Then Taxi A, followed by Hannah, and then Taxi B which had been farthest up the hill.  The rest of us were out walking alongside the cars, watching the feat.

The video above shows a clip of it.  Finally we Hannah got (us) out of that mess, and found our way back to normal streets with cars and curbs and lanes.  We parked in a ramp that night.

We checked in at our hostel, Maktub, before walking downtown to meet up with the Granada team for some drinks.  There were five of us in a room, but only two bunk beds.  What could that mean?  Rebe's sleeping on a triple bunk-bed!  It was a bit sketch to climb up, because once you get to the top of the ladder there's nothing to grab onto to hoist yourself onto the bunk.  No worries, I made it two nights without falling on my way up/down!  And I enjoyed sleeping in a bunk bed once again, like I have done during the majority of my life.

Triple-bunk bed!
The other er, distinguishing feature of this hostel was what you pull to flush in the bathroom off of the kitchen.  I'll let you have a look for yourself:
Pull the hand to flush
On Saturday we didn't play until 6pm, so we spent the morning walking around Granada and had some tapas.  I had only been to Granada once before, two years earlier, but it all came back to me.  I remembered where I had mailed a postcard, where to find my bank, and where we had eaten the most delicious kebap.

Preparations for Semana Santa

One of the tapas bars we went to that afternoon was called Bar Minotauro (Carrera Darro, 3).  It had a neat ambience because the walls were covered with napkins from the bar that people had written on, and stuck to the walls with the sticky tab of a travel pack of kleenex.  I'd also recommend this bar for its 2 euro cañas that came with great tapas.

On the short stroll back to the hostel, we squeezed up this hidden, tiny stairway:

Which is where we saw the following written on a window.  It warns people not to pee at this spot in the alley-stairway, and dogs not to leave their droppings here.

We spent some time up on the hostel's terrace before we changed and drove down to the fields.  This was a much more informal tournament than others; many of the players were new to the sport, so it was a learning experience.  I wore contacts while I played -- for the first time in years, since I no longer have a backup pair after smashing my normal pair at Juanito's Open.

I barely have any pictures of the playing though... because I was playing!  We left the car out at the fields that night and walked back into town after the games were done.  On our way back to the hostel we picked up some shawarma from one of the many kebap shops along the street.
Digging in to some shawarma in Granada
We all showered, then later headed down the street to that night's tourny gathering at a local bar.   I enjoyed the feel of this bar, too.  It was quite dark, not only because of lights, but because of some gorgeous dark wood around the bar and on some of the walls.  There were candles and small white Christmas-type lights around the place which gave it a calm feel.

Candles on the bar

Small white Christmas lights on ceiling
That night ended up being a late one (plus it was daylight savings time in Spain, so we lost an hour on top of it).  The next day when we finally got ourselves out of bed, we went for some coffee and tea nearby.  I had lost my voice the night before (was sick when we left Madrid on Friday), so I was all whispers today.

Then we were waiting around for the hostel worker to come back so we could pay, get Hermann's passport back, and leave.  The guy's chalkboard in the hostel said he'd be back at 2pm, but that was a lie.

To pass the time while waiting, we went next door for some tea and baklava.

By 3 the hostel guy had returned, so we paid and walked to where we had left our car at the fields on Saturday night.  We packed up and left, stopping for a late-lunch around 5pm near Jaén, returning to Madrid later that night.

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