El Clasico

Cristian Gutierrez
February 10, 2015

 

This was the weekend that the entire IES Program had been waiting for, a weekend full of sightseeing, flamenco, traditional tapas, and the arguably the biggest soccer game of the year. In reality who couldn’t get excited for a trip of this caliber to one of the most antique and charming cities in the Andalucía region of Spain. A city home to the rich history from various cultures around the world and one of the cities that still does tapas the traditional style. Yes, sign me up, and if you haven’t figured it out I’m talking about Granada.

It all started with a walking tour around the city, our wonderful tour guide weaved us through the city’s stoned streets, pointing out everything we needed to know along the way. Antique churches, Islamic influence, and large hills were evident throughout this walk. Some people were beginning to lag behind on the uphill portion of the tour but I kept on pushing knowing the mirrador, otherwise known as an outlook, was approaching closer and closer. Needless to say the view was amazing, especially with The Alhambra painting the perfect backdrop to the plethora of picoted being taken.

Naturally, the trek around the city left us students a bit on the tired end of the spectrum, but luckily for us we had the rest of our day booked for some rest and relaxation at The Arab Baths. Honestly I had no clue what to expect from the baths, expect for the fact I was a little nervous about starting in freezing cold water. Ironically the cold water felt amazing and it served as the perfect beginning to the massage and warmer pools. At the conclusion of the spa, I couldn’t believe how hungry I was and if there was anything I learned from watching Anthony Bourdain in Granada is that you can never go wrong with the tapas. A few buddies and I then decided to experience the tapas culture first hand and I was left mesmerized. I couldn’t fathom that with every drink order more and more delicious plated would just be brought out. It was without a doubt one of my favorite dining experiences of all time.

If we would’ve left that morning, I still would’ve left thoroughly impressed with Granada but we were fortunate enough to spend another day in the charming town. Most of this day was dedicated to adventuring The Alhambra, which might be the single most beautiful piece of architecture I have ever seen, and to expanding our palates with the variety of food Granada has to offer. A siesta was mandatory post lunch and in preparation for the biggest event all year, the IES Clasico.

You maybe wondering what this IES Clasico is that I’ve been speaking so highly of, and to answer all concerns, the IES Clasico is the annual student soccer game between the Madrid and Granada programs. This year the crowd was hostel and a lot was on the line with the Hamon Trophy lurking in the distance. Granada came out strong and built and early lead, but with 10 minutes left to play we closed the gap and brought it within one goal. At this point the crowd was out control and tensions were extremely high. It all seemed that Madrid was going to have a Cinderella story victory, but Granada then iced the game with a last minute goal. Madrid was left heartbroken by the defeat but the experience that Granada had left on us is one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Cristian Gutierrez

<p>Born and raised under the bright lights of Chicago, I was under the influence that I had seen it all. After my first trip abroad I was hooked, and I realized I couldn&rsquo;t of been more wrong. With a thirst for adventure I&rsquo;ve set out to explore the unknown during my summers off from school. My travels have taken me from ancient pyramids in Mexico to remote rainforests in Costa Rica, and now Spain is next up on the destination list. I can&rsquo;t wait for my time abroad and here I plan to document all valuable experiences and insights about my journey in Spain. Hala Madrid!&nbsp;</p>

Destination:
Term:
2015 Spring
Home university:
Penn State University
Major:
Other
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