Thirty five steps down. One press of the buzzer, which emits a sharp zapping sound. A pull of the heavy door and the world reveals itself to me.
Every morning, my routine is the same and the above is how it ends, the day becoming real when the Spanish sunshine hits my eyes. I live a twenty five minute walk from school, and when I first discovered this, I laughed at the difference between Spain and the United State’s definition of walking distance. But there is a strange sense of accomplishment that comes to me each time I walk through the doors of my destination, whether that be the Center for Modern Languages (CLM) where I go to school, or home. Part of that feeling is due to the exercise I get for walking but most of it comes from the fact that walking to school is the best way to observe Granada and its people.
I have a route. Once the door to our apartment slams behind me, I turn right and up the rest of my street. After passing the tapas bar that is always reserved (“We should go there!” we say every time we pass it, “but how do we get in!?) I reach the corner and turn towards the pharmacy. Like all of the pharmacies in Granada, it is marked by a flashing green cross, showing the time, date and temperature. At Plaza Gran Capitan, where the benches are always full of couples whispering or people sitting alone, observing the world, I normally hit the stop light. Crossing the street in Granada is a game. If you’re impatient, you can dash across when the light is red but it requires guess work. Cars fly here and sometimes they stop inches away from you.
Calle Carril de Picon comes next, with fruit stores full of bright displays and specialty shops. In the morning, the bakeries are busy, people standing outside them, but in the afternoon and at night, the tapas bars become the loud place, laughter and voices mixing into one. I pass dogs, quietly waiting, their leashes simply dropped, outside the grocery store. Students walk in groups and mothers push their children in strollers. Calle Carrill de Picon turns into Puentezuelas, a pedestrian street, as soon as you pass one of the University of Granada buildings. Here shops flank you on both sides. I pass shoe stores, shades of brown and black glistening on their display stands. Bakeries send the sweet smell of cooking pastries and hot coffee into the city air, and every morning, all of the store windows are faithfully being washed.
At the end of Puentezuelas, I turn right onto one of the main street of Granada’s center. Here, no matter the time of day, noise echoes. Buses hum and shoppers walk briskly by. The language being spoken becomes a mixture as tourists study their maps and point their cameras at the tall, beautiful buildings of Granada’s heart. In the morning, before I cross the street to continue on to school, away from the hustle of both foreign and native alike, I take a free newspaper from the worker handing them out on the street.
By the time I finish climbing the hills to the CLM, I have witnessed many sides of Granada. Starting from the student section, passing through the shopping districts and the tourists’ stomping grounds, to bohemian streets with vegan cafes and natural product shops. I can’t help but feel content. Granada never fails to surprise me and all I have to do is walk to school.