Lisa Nikolau is a student at Lawrence University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Lisa is currently studying abroad in Granada, Spain on an ISA Fall 2A program.
I pass by Café Bulder every day on my walk to school. I discovered it while searching for an area with internet my first week here in Granada, and it’s become a gathering spot for my friends and I. It’s nothing especially magnificent – a few of the tapas are to die for, but I usually just order a coffee or a beer so I can use the internet.
What makes this place so special, then? Among several things, I’ve made friends with the people that work there. You should always be nice to waiters, because they’re notoriously treated like crap, which you should know if you’ve ever waited tables. Anyway, befriending the waiters at Café Bulder has definitely had its perks!
In addition to the occasional free coffee or extra tapa, my new friends are really enthusiastic to learn English and to show my friends and I around the city. We admitted that we’d been going to quite a few touristy places, so our new friends showed us some of the most popular, though still authentic, sites in Granada.
For example, Granada has its fair share of gelato shops, but I’m not sure if I would have found my favorite – Los Italianos – if my local friends hadn’t taken me there! My host mother told me it’s been around for almost a century, and was made even more famous when Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha ordered a scoop in 2010.
One of the other friends I’ve made at café Bulder also convinced me to try the Spanish cinema. I never considered it an option before – I still struggle to understand my professors in class sometimes. How could I follow a full length movie? Nonetheless, I threw caution to the wind and saw Indomable. Or in English, Brave. You know, the kids movie. But hey, it’s a step! Besides, the animation was adorable, and the plotline was easy to follow.
Something else that’s come of my time in this café: I visited a town on the outskirts of the city, La Zubia, for brunch with a couple of friends. It’s a mountain town at the base of the Sierra Nevadas, a bit removed from the busier city vibe of Granada. Our local friend from the café took us there to try the escargot, but we tried a ton of different plates: ribs, pasta, salmon, calamari, flan… my favorite was the escargot, because I’m usually eager to try food that’s out of the ordinary. The flavor was better than I expected, but the texture was admittedly something to get used to. Nonetheless, a really authentic and enjoyable experience!
Another perk of the friendships I’ve made at Café Bulder is the expansion of my music library. I hear Spain’s top 20 every time I’m in a retail store or a discotecha, but spending time with locals has introduced me to some artists I’ve never heard of. Here’s a pretty popular one – this song’s been stuck in my head all day!!
My host parents listen to pretty different genres of music, but we had a pretty great conversation about Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd the other day. For whatever reason, it surprised me that they listened to English music in their youth. But there’s a greater overlap between our cultures than I realized when I arrived in Spain a few months ago.
Overall, I’ve found it important to maintain the friendships I make with locals here. They’ve taught me a lot about Spanish culture I might not otherwise have explored. Regardless, I try to check out different sites and areas of Granada as often as I can… Time’s really flying by this semester, and I’m trying to make the most of it!!
Hi Lisa! Would it be possible to email you some questions about your study abroad program? I’ll be in Granada with ISA in the spring.
But of course! I love talking about Granada. My email is in my About Me section.