Now that my time abroad is winding down, I’m nervous and excited to be going home. It might be cliché to say I feel different, even though Hermana says I haven’t changed (and neither has she). Well I will be coming home physically changed in one way with the beautiful new sunburns I acquired while lounging on the beach!

So what did we do this week? After navigating the confusing arrivals terminals and finally finding Hermana and then letting her nap, we walked along the paseo maritimo near Paqui’s house. That night I took them to El Pimpi, the best tapas restaurant in Malaga and sort of showed them around the historical district of the city center.

On Tuesday I took Sandrine and Kathryn to the Alcazaba (the fortress/palace owned by the Moors), the cathedral, and the Castillo del Gibralfaro where they were able to enjoy a hazy view of Malaga.

On Wednesday, we took the bus to Nerja, the little seaside resort town I had been to last fall to lounge on the beach. It was overcast when we got there and a little chilly so we walked around and ate our lunches packed by Paqui. We finally decided to go lie down on the beach and it was around that time it finally started clearing up and the sun came out. Now I DID put on sunscreen but I neglected to be vigilant with my legs. As you can imagine, the sun is way stronger in the south of Spain than it is in the northeast of the US. The sun is still kicking around 5/6 PM so that you think it is actually earlier than it actually is. Anyways, at the end of the day, both my legs were red as tomatoes and yes, it is very painful. I am hoping all this pain will pay off into an eventual tan (which is what my sunburns usually turn into).

On Thursday, I took “the girls” (they thought it was hilarious every time I called them this and Hermana thinks it makes me sound like a camp counselor… whatevs) to Granada to visit the Alhambra. I’m sure I posted the Wikipedia link to it back whenever I visited it last semester. And I’ve been told by Hermana the Wiki links annoy people (they annoy me too FYI it was always for my readers’ benefit) so I won’t be posting those anymore. You actually have to reserve tickets in advance to visit the Alhambra, that’s how popular it is. It is definitely one of the most visited sites in Spain. I had reserved tickets (thanks to Paqui’s warning) and when we finally got there, it was around 2:20 PM (our entrance time slot was at 2 PM, people enter with their tickets at different times so they can control the crowds I guess). We literally had 10 minutes to get to the Nazari Palaces, otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed in. We sped walked to get there and when the ticket checkers saw the times marked on our tickets, they ran us to the front of the long line of people waiting to get us in.

So we managed to enter the Nazari palaces despite us getting there somewhat late. And after that, we were able to take our time and visit the different parts of the Alhambra, all the while presenting our tickets at each checkpoint. I think I mentioned this last time I talked about the Alhambra, but Washington Irving stayed there sometime during the 1800s and wrote his book Tales of the Alhambra. The Spanish consider this his most famous work because obviously it’s all about the Alhambra. I think Americans consider The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to be way more famous. I didn’t even know the guy wrote a book about the Alhambra legends before I came to Spain last year!

After a long day, we went back to Malaga and the next day, we sort of slept in since we were exhausted after walking so much. Yesterday we visited the Picasso Museum (as you all know, the artist was born in Malaga) and at Hermana’s insistence, we went shopping. I didn’t go too crazy since my suitcase looks like it’s about to burst. I think everybody was happy with their purchases and we then went to another tapas restaurant for dinner.

And today we are supposed to go to Mijas, this little touristy town in the mountains. Kathryn left this morning to take the train back to Madrid and eventually make her way back to Toulouse, since she is spending an extra week in France visiting various sites with her mother and her aunt. So right now it is just Hermana y yo.

Today Paqui is going to her niece’s wedding and she even invited me to tag along and attend the wedding mass. While I’m sure it would have been an interesting cultural experience, I politely declined since I didn’t want the first wedding I go to to be a total stranger’s. Also I would have felt totally out of place.

I think everybody had a good time this week. It was interesting to hear Kathryn’s and Sandrine’s impressions of Malaga and Spain in general, since I no longer view the city with newcomer eyes. They pointed things out I had never really noticed before or forgotten about, so it was interesting to visit the city with a fresh perspective. We all got along and the experience was very stress free. It will be hard to say goodbye to Spain and Europe in general. And of course, saying goodbye to Paqui a second time will be a little harder.

But I know I will be coming back to Spain. Maybe not back to Malaga, but definitely back to Andalusia. I have come to love this country and its people. The Spanish (and French) culture has taught me so much this past year.

Today we went to Mijas, a little village in the mountains. Getting there was a little confusing because we had to switch buses several times and we spent more time getting there and back then in the actual village. However, the views were spectacular, I was blown away by the majestic arid mountains against the blue Mediterranean. The village was very cute and full of luxurious white villas where retired English/German people go on vacation during the summer. It was almost like being in one of the Greek islands with all the little white buildings and narrow pedestrian streets. However I’ve never actually been to any Greek islands, so this is all based on pictures. After about 2 hours walking around, we then headed back to Malaga.

And that’s the week in a nutshell! I have to get up bright and early at 4:30 AM in order to make my 7:00 AM flight. Looking forward to that jet lag jaja.

So this will be my last entry from Europe for awhile. I will probably post one more entry when I get home and then I think it will be time to end this blog. It would be weird to continue it since my study abroad programs have ended… maybe I’ll start a new blog. Who knows, we’ll see! Maybe I’ll change this blog into a general traveling blog.

See most of you State side soon enough.