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Helado and Heat Strokes

Last week we toured the Alhambra, a palace and fortress located in Granada, Spain. Originally it served as a small fortress until the Moors renovated and rebuilt it in the 13th century. But after the Christian Reconquista of 1492 it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. The same Ferdinand and Isabella that endorsed Christopher Columbus! History is so cool.

In the gardens of the Alhambra

So our toured started at 3 in the afternoon, which is not only siesta time but also the hottest part of the day. The day we went, it was a whopping 109° Fahrenheit. I knew it was going to be a hot day when I saw paramedics casually walking around with their gear and water jugs. Nevertheless, walking around a fortress that has stood since the 9th century was pretty amazing. I felt like I was walking in a set of Game of Thrones. 

A ceiling in one of the bedrooms
Spain is full of cute doors to take pictures in front of…

The tour took around 4 hours and by the end of it we were all exhausted, but it was worth climbing up all those stairs for the amazing view of the city we’ve all been living in for the past month. Also it was probably due to the dehydration, but I have never tasted helado (ice cream) so amazing.

From the top of the fortress
I couldn’t ask for better program leaders!

Thankfully, no one from our group had a heat stroke. But, if you do ever find yourself visiting the Alhambra make sure you bring a fan! I would also recommend going on a guided tour so you get the most out of your visit. I don’t think I would have appreciated the architecture, and I learned so many quirky facts about the kings and queens that resided there. I also need to brag about how amazing my program leaders are. Lorena and Louis have made this summer abroad so fun and I don’t know what any of us would do without them. If you’re thinking about studying abroad with UMKC, you definitely need to go with these two.

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Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

España vs. Me: Round Two

The history and culture shock of Spain continued down its path with me as I began to more fully comprehend the  amazing accomplishments that took place in the last five thousand years or more.

La Granja Royal Palace was an interesting find on our tour throughout Spain. Just outside the small town of San Ildefonso, the summer palace and its gardens were a wonderful delight that I did not think any king would ever want. The 1,500 acres of gardens, trees, groves, and amazing flowerbeds and fountains were stunning.

A flower bed of the La Granja gardens.
A view looking down at one of the main fountains at the garden.

The most incredible thing was how the king had Red Woods shipped from the United States to Spain just so he could have them in the garden. The fountains and architectures were modeled after Versailles, and I found it interesting how the palace now belongs to the people and that they are allowed to visit inside of it. The garden continues to grow all of the original species of plants that were originally planted, and the palace itself contains all of the original furniture and architecture from its original conception as well.

The Mezquita that we had the welcomed pleasure of seeing is the ultimate symbol of how the three cultures of Spain, Jewish, Moor, and Christian, came together and completely redeveloped a new mosque-cathedral as new kings ruled over the area.

View of one of the old entrances to the Mezquita of Córdoba, Spain.

Though the mezquita is mainly a representation of the Moor and Christian cultures, I believe that the history behind it was influenced by all three cultures, even if it wasn’t at the same time. Each chapel represents a different part of the religions and I found most fascinating the pillars that were inscribed with different meanings.

A neighborhood of the “Village of Three Cultures”.

Frigiliana is a town that takes the time to celebrate the Festival de las Tres Culturas (Festival of Three Cultures) at the end of August. This festival commemorates the coexistence between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions, as well as the regions historic confluence.

One of the most pure colored houses of the “White Village”.

This special town, also known as the “White Village” inspired me to find the time during this study abroad trip and visit it again. Though I did not like all of the stairs that we had to climb, this white village full of artists and flowers was the push I needed to continue my journey through the Spanish culture and the Spanish Language.


Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.