GRANADA!!! The one place outside of Prague that I was really really anxious to go to. I mean, I wanted to go to a lot of places, but Granada was like, #2 on the list of "Very Important places that if you miss I will make sure you regret it for the rest of your life." So it was glorious morning when my train rolled into the station.
I took a night train and shared a compartment with three little old ladies, and it was hilarious. They didn't speak a lick of English, and I hardly speak spanish... language barriers are always fun.
Granada means "Pomegranate" in arabic. The city is so named for when the Muslims invaded Spain and took over. They were kicked out of Spain entirely in 1492, and Granada was their last stronghold. But more on that later. Tidbit: The street lamps are in the shape of pomegranates. quaint.
excerpts from my journal:
"I got here and settled in and then went on the free walking tour of the Albayzin [ the ancient and beautiful part of town]. There are so many twisty, windy, crazy streets. Sometimes a road will start out wider than the breadth of my arms, and in the end I'll be edging sideways...makes me feel like a spy. The Albayzin is amazing! all whitewashed walls, silly grafitti, many a tapas bar, flowers on the window sills, cobblestone streets, and a great smell of desert dirt and spices. Really, I love this place."
View of the Albayzin and Sacramonte in the back
"I found a nunnery that makes and sells candy!! It's so tasty! Well, it definitely tastes odd, but I like it!"
"In true Spanish form, I joined a group leaving the hostel for a late dinner and a tapas tour (each on separate nights). And I mean a late dinner. We were seated at 10pm and had our food by 10:30. And in true European fashion, we stayed chatting at that table till 1AM. but it was a flamenco restaurant, so it was dinner and a show!! Three guys came out, and man, Flamenco is awesome. Intricate, a strange mix of river-dance and tap, but with all the attitude of the latin dances. FUN!
The tapas tour was exciting - we went to about 4 bars. Granada is a college town, so with every drink you order, they also give you tapas (small appetizers). YUM. By the end of three drinks you're quite full. Our guide let us know that that's actually a good preventative measure because the kids don't get as drunk because they're full. hahaa funny. I got lemonade at one bar, coke with lime at another, and pomegranate juice at another. And each tapas bar served different tapas! it was a fun night. I smelled outrageously like smoke (GROSS!) and had to let my coat air out over night. ah well, it was worth it.
Alhambra = "the most romantic place on earth". Well, Schwetzingen gives it a run for it's money, but the gardens of the Alhambra are breath-taking. When the Muslims ruled, they believed that Granada was directly under heaven. Literally. I can see why... with the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas in the east, and the beautiful valley stretching out before you, and the setting sun... I would think I was IN heaven. The Gardens are ridiculously extensive, and the actual architecture is nothing we see in the west. Intricate mosaics with stones and colored glass, all those curly cutesy desigins, outdoor courts with reflection pools, fountains, and artistically sculpted greenery. And so many flowers!! The Alhambra is a must see! I spent 8 hours there.
Granada was lovely. I great respite - since it was so warm in southern Spain. I loved the oranges that grew on the trees, free for the taking, the late night adventures that are just part of the culture, the Albayzin with it's crazy, twisty funny streets, the caves on Sacramonte where hippies lived, the cozy little carmens (private gardens), the delicious candy from the nuns!, and the lovely couscous we had at the hostel. And so much more. I spent 5 days in Granada and could easily spend another 50.
One of the many fountains in the Alhambra. This was my favorite one. Check out those Roman arches!!
hahaa I just found this intensely amusing.Many people in Granada decorated their patios and windows this way. Lots of flowers and hanging plants, plates with interesting designs. It's so beautiful and artistic!
This is in one of the Carmen's - a private garden. This was in the college campus, and if I looked directly to my right I could see the valley of the Albayzin and the Alhambra. It was lovely.