Allison Agnew: Spain

By Allison Agnew

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Read more about this trip | See more from Allison | Follow along with other UMass students as they travel across the globe.

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Window of Opportunity

During my first day in Spain and I spent the next 5 days looking out this window. I walked out the hotel entrance and found myself immersed in the Spanish culture with excitement.

There were planned excursions to the famous Museo del Prado and Royal Palace of Madrid.

I was enjoying every bit of it, but I was extremely anxious and curious to get to my next real home in Granada.

Before I got there, I would need to conquer Madrid.

El Jardín del Escorial

On our second day in Madrid, there was an excursion to El Escorial, which is an hour north of Madrid.

It is used for many purposes, such as a monastery, royal palace, school, and museum. It was originally a property of the Hieronymite monks in the late 15th century.

Above is a picture of the beautiful garden in the courtyard. You can see the surreal images of the mountains in the distance.

Singing Couple

I passed this musically inclined couple about five times in one day. Not only was their music great, but their attitude and drive was, as well.

I decided to give them a tip because they always had huge smiles on their faces.

Holy Toledo

On our way from Madrid to Granada we stopped in the famous city of Toledo (not to be confused with the city in Ohio. They’re pronounced differently).

The capital city of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, Toledo is known for being the place of many religions, with Jews, Catholics, and Muslims in one area.

I loved Toledo because its streets were windy and narrow. For my friends and I, looking for a place to eat was like solving a puzzle.

Finally in Granada

After spending a week in Madrid, I was ready to see this mysterious place called Granada. I was sick of looking at it on Google, and was ready to see it for myself.

The picture above was taken at a park in the Albayzín of Granada. El Albayzín is the Spanish version of a neighborhood and is located at the very top of the city.

In the evening the locals of the neighborhood come to this park to play music and spend quality time with friends and family.

Hookah, Anyone?

The once constant battle between the Arabs and the Catholics in Granada has left a Moorish influence.

There are hookah bars located everywhere throughout the city.

Along with smoking hookah comes a delicious assortments of teas. Any tea you order comes in a petite pot for the table so it’s easy to buy a few and share.

Las Cuevas

The caves in Granada are amazing. In these caves you will find restaurants, bars, living areas for hippies and gypsies and most importantly, flamenco dancing shows.

Flamenco dancing is a large part of Granada’s culture, and performances are shown in the caves.

I will be going with my friends in a few weeks to see one I can’t wait!

A Pearl Set of Emeralds

One of our first excursions in Granada was a visit to the famous Alhambra.

La Alhambra, translated as “the red one,” is a palace or fortress which was built in the 14th century by Moorish rulers. Moorish poets described it as “a pearl set in emeralds.”

The picture above is of the Patio de los Arrayanes. If you look at the pool you can see the reflection of the castle top that stands behind the patio.

A Closer look at Alhambra

Our trip to the Alhambra was amazing, so it made it very difficult to take only a few pictures.

Something that I absolutely loved was the immense amount of Arabic writing in the palace.

The writing you see in the picture above is a symbol for God. Atop is an older style of Arabic writing while below is a more recent writing style.

Outside of Alhambra

I took this shot towards the end of our three-and-a-half hour tour.

This garden was built during the time of Muhammad III, Sultan of Granada, between the years 1302 and 1309.

In the spring, there are many different flowers that give the garden color. My friends and I already plan on coming back to the Alhambra to experience the beauties of spring.


This photo is of a little chapel located near the monument of San Nicholas.

Both are located in the Albayzín area, overlooking the Alhambra with a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.

This is my favorite place to come and relax at the end of the day.