Welcome to Granada, Spain. If there is anywhere in the world that does tapas well, it’s Granada. It also has it’s own eclectic flair on Moorish architecture, an Andalusian style charm that is like no other coupled with a hit of some of the best tapas available in Spain. Yes, we’ve hit the jackpot!
Bussing it to the bus
When we last wrote, both of us were suffering some of the worst sleep deprivation/hangover days we’d ever encountered. One should note, after three days of partying it would be wise to stay an extra night to recover before embarking on an eight-hour journey to another city. Of course, this wasn’t what we’d decided to do, so with tomatoes still in parts of our ears and armed with our backpacks we skipped “merrily” off to our long-haul bus, then onto one of the public buses and then eventually navigated our way to the hostel. We settled in, we ate food and went to bed; this was not the day to be trying weird, wonderful and new foods. It would be remiss of me to mention here that neither of us cope particularly well with tiredness or being hung over… it was a tedious and difficult day that we both hope never to relive. Ever.
Recovery day two
I’m not sure whether to be ashamed or proud of our stealth through the last week, however our high was coming to an end. Neither of us slept well, and Dee was starting to get sick - this was going to be an extraordinarily challenging time for James in the trip. We kept Friday fairly quiet, although our hostel had offered us many suggestions of tango lessons, bars and live music relatively close to us. We spent much of the day admiring the architecture in the area around our hostel and visiting a few stores. We stumbled across a market on the way around that had an amazing selection of gourmet meats, cheeses and beers; though we stuck to a small amount of alcohol today - things weren’t looking so happy for either of us, or our tummies.
Our hostel was off one of the many small plazas in the Bib Rambla district, an area well-known for it’s narrow streets, packed with restaurants and bars that scream for the tourists to come and spend all their money. We were very thankful for the air-conditioning in our room, a little less thankful for the three very narrow flights of stairs we needed to carry our backpacks up. At the end of our first full day we decided to duck out into one of the small tourist bars for some tapas (our replacement for the evening’s dinner) and a few wines. Wine helps sickness, right?
A little bit of culture
Though Granada is known for excellent tapas, and Spain in general for it’s fantastic wines, we have taken time to do things other than drink and enjoy delicious food.
For Saturday’s expedition, we bought ourselves passes to see the Alhambra, originally a small fortress that was turned into a royal palace overlooking Granada, built by the Moors. The tickets for the site are a bit confusing in regards to time - you can buy one for morning (10-2), afternoon (2-8pm) or evening (8 to 10/11), and there is a very specific time for seeing the Nazrid palace.
We had afternoon tickets with the Nazrid Palace at 2pm. After the walk up the hill, we had arrived at the site at 1pm, so thought we would go look at another part called the Alcazaba before the palace, but we were not allowed to since our tickets started at 2. So we unfortunately had to sit around and have a beer.
When we purchased tickets, they said to go line up 30 minutes before the time, so we did, and that was definitely a good idea. We got there just before they opened the 1:30 session, and once everyone in the line with 1:30 tickets were in (around 1:40) it was closed. If you turned up 15 minutes late like some people did, too bad you have just wasted your money.
Once 2pm rocked around we were allowed to enter the palace, and asked not to touch the tiles on the walls since they are fragile and oil from your hands can damage them. They have some replicas you can feel if you want, which is a great idea.
The Nazrid palace was built by the Moors, and the first records at at the time of the fifth king of the dynasty in the 14th century. It has been extended over the years, especially by Charles V after the Christans re-conquered the area. The palace is quite beautiful, with many geometric designs and lots of colour.
After the Nazrid palace, we arrived at the Partal gardens, and walked part of the way the Generalife, however Dee wasn’t feeling well so she went home for some rest.
James headed to the Alcazaba (walled city) to see the fort section and the towers, which had good views of the city. It was very hot walking around in the sun, if you go you should definitely bring a hat and sunscreen!
After seeing the fort, there was the Palacio de Carlos V, which on the inside looks like a bull ring. Unfortunately he arrived at 3:35pm and the museum it houses closed at 3:30pm this time of year, so the next stop would be the Generalife - almost 1km walk away.
The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace of the old kings, and it has been reconstructed. There is debate how authentic the reconstruction is, but the gardens are nice nonetheless. After the long walk marked by signs, the entrance was no-where to be found. There was an exit with a “no passing” sign, with a large number of people ignoring it and crossing, so James went in via that passage was well. There were lots of fruit trees, hedges, and grape vines crawling along the inner courtyard roof.
If you are ever in Granada, make sure you visit the Alhambra and Nazrid palace. Our photos do not do it justice, it is an amazing sight.
Going back down to the city is a pleasant (albeit long) walk, with lots of trees and fountains. I took a quick detour through the edge of the old Moorish quarter, and then headed back to the hostel. We went and had a beer at the tapas place right next to our hostel, which was very nice with large delicious tapas (slow to arrive, but there was one staff member making them fresh), and we ended up at a restaurant a few blocks away for dinner.
Stunning views of beautiful Granada
Like other parts of Spain, Granada has some fairly spectacular architecture, however its buildings are adorned with Moorish style sculptures with big arched doorways, typical of Almohad influenced architecture. We had decided on Sunday morning that we were going to walk through the suburb of Albayzin, to the San Nicholas lookout point. Albayzin is Granada’s ancient Moorish quarter and is one of the oldest centres of Muslim cultures in Granada. No-one is sure when it was first settled, but it was abandoned when the romans left until being re-established in 1013 (so quite a long time).
The view from the San Nicholas square behind Albayzin is just stunning, though you can see Granada from the top of the Alhambra, you get a completely different perspective from San Nicholas… when you’ve got some time to spare it is definitely worth the walk up the hill.
Deciding that we wanted to go to on of the local Moroccan places for dinner rather than lunch, we stopped off in a place for a few drinks and tapas (surprise!). Early afternoon was spent having a look at the other side of the city we hadn’t walked to, Dee still wasn’t feeling very well due to whatever disease she’d caught at La Tomatina so she stayed at the hostel while James went and got a massage in the late afternoon. That evening we stopped off at another place for a drink or two (with more tapas) before heading to Arrayanes for dinner. We had a mixed entrée plate to share (with some delicious hummus and babaganoush, followed by a lamb and prune tajine. Dee had some mint lemonade and James had hot mint tea (much better than peppermint in my honest opinion).
Leaving another beautiful city
Spain really hasn’t disappointed so far with its stunning buildings, cobbled paths and winding narrow streets. We weren’t quite ready to leave Granada when we did, there were still lots of things to see and experience, however time was short and we had to keep moving. We spent Monday morning packing and getting ourselves ready for our next destination: Seville.
Go see all the photos from Grenada