Last weekend we drove just 2 hours away from the Costa del Sol but it felt like we crossed the border and ended up in a different country- away from the plastic land of the resorts and into the real Spanish town. From the first moment, I felt like I am in a place with real Spanish character, still a bit touristy but not fake like the towns on the Costa del Sol. We stayed in a small hotel/hostel near Plaza del Carmen which was super close to the centre and is just around the corner from the tapas route which is one of the things the city is famous of except of Alhambra, of course.
The first afternoon we just wandered around the town and after a short siesta- now I understood that it is a necessity in a climate like this when around 7pm there is still 30 degrees and sunny, we ventured outside to check tapas and the local bar. Granada is one of the few bastions of free tapas in Spain. Basically, it works like that, you order your drink, usually cana- small beer or tinto de verano-red wine with lemonade and then you get your free food. Each drink means more tapas to come, so basically you can have dinner this way. I also like the fact that you never know what comes next;)Exciting. On our fist night we stayed up till 2am which is really rare for us as we usually go to sleep early because we need to get up before 7am for work. At some point we almost thought, we do not need more tapas, no thank you, we just need a drink;)
Next day we planned to take a walking tour and catch a flamenco show in the evening. Even though we were a bit tired from the night before we managed to get up and join the free walking tour. I really like those tour as an introduction to the city you’re staying in- I tried it in Florence and in Rome already and I was always satisfied with the quality of it. And free means that basically you tip the guide after the tour, you do not need to but come on,usually they are very well prepared, they spent more than 2 hours with you and answer all your questions, there is no reason not to tip them.
We strolled around the Old Moorish quarter Albazyin with narrow streets full of teterias -tea shops where you can also smoke shisha and small shops, as well as through the old market -Alcaceira where you can get beautiful leather bags and other souvenirs.What was nice that unlike in turkey where there are similar shops, here nobody is pushing you to buy anything and you are free to walk and check out everything without the pressure.I have to say we ended up some home-made leather bags, some different teas and few small souvenirs and it was not even that expensive.
In the evening we went to see a flamenco show in Le Chien Andalou and it was an unforgettable evening. We were seated in the first row so we had a great view. It was performed by a singer, guitarist and a dancer. What was amazing was the passion with which they performed which gets under your skin. It was not like, oh we have a gig and we do not care, not at all. I was amazed by it and I wish sometimes my attitude would be similar, as not always I am so passionate about some pieces that I am performing…
The next day we just wandered around and did some shopping. In the morning we visited the Manuel de Falla museum which is close to Alhambra. An interesting place to see if you’re a musician, otherwise maybe it is not mandatory. I was hoping to see some scores but actually it was mostly the house where Manuel de Falla spend sometime while living in Granada. We made a mistake with the Alhambra visit, as I booked it for 6pm but I did not realise that it was the time to get to the main palace but one is free to come much earlier…So we walked back to town for a short siesta and then back again in the evening to visit Alhambra. So on this day we did 16km some of it on a quite steep walk towards Alhambra in 30 degrees…It affected my visit to Alhambra as I really did not have much power to walk around more in the gardens. It is a bit a shame but it was my 2nd time already so..Not that bad…I did not take any photos there as I decided to enjoy it instead of being glued to the camera. You see so many people taking photos constantly but not taking in the atmosphere of the place. So in the end, what’s the point? I am not sure they will be really looking back at their photos at all…Besides, they are so many beautiful photos of Alhambra already without the crowds…
Overall, Granada stole my heart and I would be happy to spend there more than a weekend.
Going out and experiencing the tapas is a different story, so watch this space for the next post.