I’ve been following with interest the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and opinions on twitter this weekend. Not all are positive, in fact, most aren’t.
But regardless of how you feel about the monarchy, history is happening at this very moment.
It’s Tuesday and I’m sitting on my couch after a weekend of partying… for the Queen of course. And while I’ve been enjoying the two days off Her Royal Majesty has given us, it’s hard not to get stuck in the hype of the Diamond Jubilee.
And I’ve been thinking about the last 60 years and how long that time really is. The Queen has been on the throne for 60 years and has seen more things from her throne than I have in the lifetime of my Mum and I combined.
It makes me realise how much change happens, in an instant, in a moment and over 60 years. How lucky are we, currently here today, that we will continue to see the world change and have seen so much change so far.
The introduction of the internet, social media, the fall of oppresive empires, the death of John Paul II, the death of Princess Diana, financial crashes, terrorist acts, death of many high flying celebrities at their peaks and some not so much, the election to the Papacy of Pope Benedict and one day we will also see the change of the throne from Queen Elizabeth to her successor – whoever that might be.
There’s a lot for us to be grateful for, I think.
Most importantly, I’m looking forward to one day sharing this moment in history (because this is history in the making) with another generation, very much like my parents shared their moments of history with me.
However you feel about the Monarchy it’s undeniable that 60 years is an enormous feat and that this weekend was worth celebrating – even if it is just for all the history.
We’re still in my favourite city in the world and one of its most iconic and recognised buildings is The Alhambra.
The Alhambra which is Arabic for ‘the red one’ is a palace and fortress located in Granada. It’s unmissable located high up on a hill overlooking the city and particularly beautiful at night when uplighting makes it look majestic.
The Alhambra has quite the complicated history and originally built for the Nasrid Dynasty, the last Moorish and Muslim dynasty in Spain. And it’s Arabic, Muslim roots really show through in the architecture, mosaics, fountains and it was even reflected in the archways.
I remember just before I departed for Granada that my friend KB gave me advice that I originally laughed at:
Be prepared. You’re going to take a lot of pictures.
And I scoffed “I’m no tourist”.
I took hundreds of photos, even some of door archways that nobody but me will ever understand.
No words will really do it justice (neither will my 100 pictures) the place was just stunning, stunning, stunning, stunning.
Do yourself a favour:
Book before you go.
Book the early spot, 8:00 – 14:00.
Watching the sun rise over The Alhambra is a magical experience AND you avoid the hundreds of tour buses with annoying tourists wearing money belts (this is a shout out to my travel partner who wore a money belt once on our trip, until I made so much fun of her that I’m certain she either threw it out of a plane or burnt it in the ‘spa-game’ in Korea)
Load up your camera, film, whatever you need to capture this place.
KB was right, you will need it.
Wear comfortable clothes that aren’t too bulky when you get warm from walking around. It’s high up so it’s chilly but it also gets the sun quite well which means it can get a bit sweaty.
Pack some lunch. I had to take a pit-stop down the mountain and back up again to get dry socks (stupid boots) and sustenance.
Don’t miss The Good Life gardens, they’re breathtaking and one of the best things up there. Thanks for the hot tip Mike.
Don’t take any headphones or listening devices. Listen to the sound of the thousands of tourist and the water. Did you know that water back in those days was seen as a sign of wealth?
Walk up the hill, don’t take the bus.
You’ll burn off your lunch and you’ll very quickly feel your lungs and heart.
Avoid the gypsies handing out Rosemary – they’re dodgy.
And if you go and you love it, you’ll have to share your pictures with me.
For more proof that I took over 100 pictures of The Alhambra you can view a full album on Facebook.
And I awoke, saw the calendar and thought “wow, that’s odd” for no other reason than when I prepared for my trip, I never thought further than my leaving date. So this is something new, unexpected even.
And it oddly was a day of firsts.
My first pay cheque.
My first day of May in London.
The first day I couldn’t get on more than three trains because they were packed.
The first day that this situation actually annoyed me, a lot.
The first day that I realised that maybe the tourist is rubbing off and this is starting to become home.
The first day that 3 minutes waiting for the tube felt like a LONG time and a 10 minute delay was DEADLY.
The first day that I felt annoyed at my 9-5 routine – stupid grass and being greener bla bla bla.
First day that I took my grouchiness on the pavement instead of on a family-sized-block of chocolate.
First day that I heard my mum say “I’m so glad you taught me that” and I agreed. It’s funny, usually it’s the other way around and that’s also a first.
First time that I realised that Mum and I are chums and I should support her like I would support my chum. No more finger wagging her like she was my daughter. She is my daughter and she’s naughty.
First day that I ran around the park and recognised a few people… that weren’t Australian.
First day that didn’t feel grateful and turned it around.
I love outlandish claims – the most beautiful city… cue dramatic music… IN THE WORLD!
After my love affair with Madrid, I was sure that I wasn’t ever going to fall in love with a city again. City-monogamous. Madrid, you and I – no other.
Then I jumped on a 5 hour train ride (god bless ya Renfe) to Granada that I thought would be ‘cute’ far from the most beautiful city IN THE WORLD.
It’s 9pm, it’s dark, I’m cranky (no judgement) and all I want to do is get to the hostel and drop off my 20kg bag – I barely packed anything. Grumpy and cussing, I jump into a cab with my travel partner who organised the hostel but has absolutely no idea where we’re going – nice.
And then I looked up.
And my cranky mood disappeared (sadly not my pack) because the city is just beautiful. It is one of those breath taking beautiful cities – and a little part of it knows it.
Did I mention it was 9pm and it was dark?
Well it was and it was cold enough that I had gloves on but it was still beautiful. And as a trudged (uttering lots of F-words, I may have even dropped a C bomb) up a mini hill to get to our hostel, it was impossible to try and hate the place.
And this beauty was before daylight where you can see Sierra Nevada with its snow caps on one side and the majestic Alhambra on the other.
Nothing I say will ever be able to translate the beauty that I saw to you – nothing.
You’ll just have to go and see it for itself and if you can prove me wrong, I’ll buy you a pack of tim tams.
At White Nest Hostel.
One of the funkiest places I’ve stayed with an Arabic interior and rooms were serviced daily (at a HOSTEL, I know). Our bathroom was the size of our room and this really was more of a hotel than a hostel, minus the cost, mini-shampoos and with the addition of the odd drunken fool here or there.
Copious amounts of beer with free tapas.
Our local quickly became El Minotauro where the beers were 2 euros and the tapas were decent sized bagels.
Given it’s major tourist focus there’s a restaurant, tapas bar on every corner. Go further into the city (in the Albaycin) to experience some local spots. And I dare you to try to order food without ordering a drink, if you succeed I’ll pay for it.
There seems to be a lot of stray animals in Granada, particularly lots of cats in the Alhambra looking for a feed.
The Gypsies of Granada have some of the most amazing music, atmosphere and are super cool. Walk around the city that’s the only way you’ll get a good feel of the place, forget the segways.
Here’s some shabby short videos I took of the buskers – (I only learnt to take good vides after Granada)
Allow a full day for the gorgeous and historic place that is the Alhambra, wear comfortable shoes and walk there. Forget getting the bus to the Alhambra – unless you are not able to walk. It’s a steep walk but you need to burn off those tapas anyway – pack some lunch, it will take most of the day.
Pre-book your Alhambra tickets, go as early in the morning as possible (we went at 8am) and stay until the second session starts – 2pm.
If it’s winter, pack something warm – it’s cold up there!
Try a walking tour that leaves from the Plaza fountain every day at 11am. It’s a historic tour and it will blow you away how amazing the history of the city is. Also give the cave tours a whirl, those caves are amazing!
Visit the flamenco bar (it’s tiny and in a cave) in Carrera Del Daro, you won’t regret it.
Avoid the ‘tapas’ streets, they’re rubbish.
Instead walk around the streets and follow your gut instinct – pun much?
Also try the ‘Menu del Dia’ another option if you just can’t do one more tapa or beer.. it happens.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for the longest time and have managed to wimp out at every opportunity.
It was mostly the shame of what people would think when I told them the truth.
That I changed my mind.
That what I thought I wanted as my “dream” turned out not to be the case?
People will think I’m flaky, that I led them on or worse that I lied.
And I can assure you that I didn’t lie… things just changed.
I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in events, it was that thrill of the pressure and the act of creating that interested me the most. It was in those five minutes before your show went live that I really felt alive – the point of no return. Every thing I had spent months working on was about to come to fruition within minutes, I was about to find out whether I had missed dotting an i or crossing a t somewhere. Sometimes things went wrong that were out of my control and other times I kicked myself that I should have known better.
It was all part of the journey, part of the job.
A year ago I decided that if events really were for me, I should aim high and apply for one of the largest events known to the world – The Olympics.
And why not?
Why settle for small town events when you can go for an international mammoth of an event. If I’m destined for this as a career why settle for small.
And that was the plan, it was to make it happen.
And then something changed.
I’ve always been interested in social media, marketing and I love convincing people to attend my events through different means. I really started to get more involved in marketing and bridging that potential between marketing and events – in new media and traditional media. I even jumped into copywriting and always passed it through my manager (aka editor) and we created some killer content.
And I loved it.
I loved it more than I loved organising the event.
Don’t get me wrong, I love events and always will but I felt I needed to explore that passion for social media and marketing that I had developed.
So I changed my mind about the Olympics.
I don’t want to be a part of an event where I can’t get my teeth stuck into a full project. I want to be part of creating not just following. I want to get my hands dirty and involved in strategies, brainstorming and then executing.
And I want to explore that bridge between digital marketing and events – particularly because I think that event organisers are still doing it badly.
I want to use digital marketing to drive attendees to events and I want to drive events to build digital channels.
I think they’re a perfect marriage – like garlic and potatoes.
But I changed my mind and to any that this may disappoint, I’m sorry.
I always aim to follow things that I love and I would be betraying myself if I didn’t follow this.
For all who left me some amazing comments on my 2012 Project, I can’t thank you enough. Some of your messages gave me shivers, others make me laugh and there were some that made me cry.
I really value them and value your time, efforts and your belief that I could do it.
I hope to still make you proud but maybe not working in the Olympics… at least not this year.