This last weekend saw the first of my many planned weekend trips in Spain and my first trip to Granada to see my good friend Rachel (who I haven’t seen since we went to Paris in September) who is doing a Comenius assistantship there (what I did in France). Apart from being a long overdue reunion, it was the perfect excuse to kickstart my travelling! Granada is just a 4-hour bus ride away from Estepona, so early on Saturday morning I hopped onto a trusty coach and headed up North.
First things first, Granada is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. It was the last city in Spain that was occupied by the Moorish so its beautiful architecture has heavy Moroccan influences which culminate in the Alhambra, the Moorish palace(s) that towers over the city. This is only made even more beautiful by the fact that the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains form an awesome backdrop – N.B. Sorry to those who are reading this in England and are sick to death of the snow…
Hour 1: I arrived around 11.30am so Rachel met me at the bus station and took me back to her flat to drop my bag off [and to treat me to a proper cup of PG tips] before we headed out to explore. First of all she took me via all of the little Moroccan-esque market streets (so we could get ideas of what to buy when we actually go there in March!) up to the pueblo blanco part of Granada, Albaicín. The area is made up of lots of tiny, steep, cobbled streets with white houses and shutters, and is apparently where a lot of students live, though the beauty of it is probably wasted on them… After a few minutes of breathless climbing, we reached el mirador (the viewpoint) which is where most of the famous photos of the Alhambra are taken from. And my goodness, it was breathtaking!
Hour 3: After spending a long while admiring the view, we heading a little down the hill face to a bar with a terrace where we could sit with an Alhambra beer and admire it some more…Feeling a little peckish, we trotted off back into town through Albaicín to Los Diamantes, a seafood restaurant where I rediscovered my love for aubergine, this time deep-fried (for my French friends, it was Spanish beignet!) and deep-fried fish (and more beer, jiji). After a quick pitstop for PG tips, we decided to go shopping for a few hours so that I could make the most of being in a town big enough to have a Zara (with even more rebajas).
Hour 9: After this immensely satisfying retail therapy, Rachel took me to a couple of amazing tapas places. Granada is one of the few places in Spain where tapas are still free when you buy a drink, so I was like a child in a sweetshop! The first place she took me to was Poë , a bar ironically owned by a British couple, that serves the best little dishes of thai chicken with rice and Italian Vegetables. We then headed over to a more studenty place, D’Cuadros where we had even more aubergine (this time with honey), chicken wings and montaditos (little sandwiches). After all this food and beer we were stuffed, but had spent less than 8euros each! Reason number 1005 to love Granada: it’s cheap!
Hour 12: By this point it was about 11pm, so following a quick stop at Smooy for some frozen yoghurt, we went back to the flat to get ready to go out. In case you hadn’t already realised, living in Spain feels like there is so much more time in the day (if you take a siesta): nights out don’t really get into the swing until around 2am. Around 1am, we wrapped ourselves up warm (I was not used to the 1 degree weather after a month on the Costa del Sol!) and wandered to a club near Sacromonte (an area where the houses are in caves – a visit for next time). The club itself was an amazing venue: half of it built into a cave and the other half was a glasshouse/terrace with amazing views of the lit-up Alhambra. Being a Saturday night, we were rather outnumbered by creepy males, but we still had a good time, especially as we had free entry and free drinks! However, as we had big plans for the next day we went home around 3.
Hour 22: Despite having had only 5 hours sleep, Rachel and I got up bright and early, ready to head to the Alhambra for the morning. Rachel had already bought our tickets so after climbing the huge hill (hills seem to follow me around the world!) we didn’t have to queue too long. Although there’s no actual ‘exhibits’, the Alhambra was so interesting! There are water fountains and ponds everywhere (water was the biggest luxury to the Moorish, my tourguide RH tells me), beautiful gardens and amazing mosaic walls. We spent half the time baffled by how they had managed to do this kind of interior design nearly 1000 years ago, and the other half wishing I had a better camera to capture the amazing-ness and discussing how cool an Alhambra-themed wedding would be (mosaics on the invitations??). Even though there were quite a few people there we only had to queue for the Nasrid palaces (the main ones) as we had an allotted time to visit. The amount of people didn’t seem to put off the Alhambra resident cats from wandering around though, much to R’s delight! I don’t think there’s anything else I can say to describe the place, except that I will definitely be returning in the Spring!
Hour 27: After 4 hours walking around, we went to rest-up with a beer in La Bella y La Bestia, where you get different ’rounds’ of tapas with each round of drinks you buy. How the British haven’t caught onto the tapas malarky, I don’t know…. Unfortunately, my bus was leaving at 5pm so we had to dash back to the apartment, via a few postcard shops, before heading to the bus station so I could catch my long bus back to the coast.
After just 30 hours, I am completely in love with Granada and recommend it to absolutely everyone, if you didn’t get that vibe from this post already! I have already planned to return next month to explore even more and to possibly have a (literal) taste of the Sierra Nevada snow…
Sorry for the long post (and huge number of photos)!