Andalucía 4: Dreamy Granada
We saved the best until last and finished our trip in Granada. Our Airbnb turned out to be the most quirky and pretty that we've had to date, set right in the old Muslim quarter El Albacín. We shlepped up through the almost Moroccan medina full of spices, mint tea shops and Middle Eastern pastry cafés, dragging our suitcases, and met Rebeca, our host, who showed us round the apartment and talked us through her hints and tips for the city. Our apartment was one of about six in a 16th century building with beautiful details and a roof top terrace with views of the Alhambra. It was the perfect base from which to explore this mishmash city full of old, architectural delights.
As soon as we'd settled we headed up to El Mirador de San Nicolas. It's a touristy spot high on the hill with the best views of the Alhambra. The views as the sun were setting were spectacular and it's a real hippie hang out with lots of beer drinking, guitar strumming and little stalls.
From here we wandered over to Sacramonte, the gypsy area of the city. There are still lots of gitanos living in the area and there are nightly flamenco shows in the caves that are set into the hill. I'd never seen a flamenco show and we paid 10 euros each to join on about half way through. It was a great way to get a feel for the music and dance with about 20 tourists huddled round in a semi circle as a two singers and a guitarist did their thing. Half an hour was plenty but the emotion, stomping and clapping was quite the spectacle.
Dinner was tapas the proper way. Granada's bars are much more generous with their tapas than we had found elsewhere and we weaved our way back to our apartment, stopping for drinks and plates of goodness in a number of different spots.
For me, our visit Granada was all about the Alhambra. I teach all about its gorgeous Moorish architecture at A Level, there's a photo in every single Spanish textbook I've ever used and I've heard SO many people rave about it. So, when, three weeks before our trip there were no tickets to be found to get in, I went into sheer panic mode. Luckily we managed to get hold of a Granada Card (43 euro each which was a premium but totally worth it) and snagged one of the final time slots to get into the Palacios Nazaríes . So get in there early with the purchase! It's pretty complicated how it works but the Alhambra is made up of the aforementioned Palacios Nazaríes (you need a timed entry ticket to get in and they are super strict with the time slots), the Generalife (the summer palace with the amazeballs gardens) and then the Alcazabar which is the oldest-looking, military area of palace. You can also visit the Palacios Nazaríes at night and see it all lit up. We didn't manage to get tickets but I've heard it's absolutely worth going back for it. When buying your entry, ensure you are able to get into everything you want to see as there are heaps of different combinations on sale.
It didn't disappoint! We spent about four glorious hours wandering around and it was absolutely magical. It's impossible to capture the beauty on camera and also pretty impossible to put it into words. Safe to say, I'm hoping there is reincarnation and some day I can come back as a Moorish princess! There are stunning flowers everywhere, the ceramics are breathtaking and the arches, woodwork, inscriptions and all-things-Moorish are beautiful.
We were so pooped after our Alhambra adventures that we ended up getting the bus back down the hill as our feet just couldn't carry us any further. Right where the bus drops you off is the trendy Hotel Isabel which had a lovely terrace and big, fish-bowl G&Ts. The perfect refreshment after all that exertion!
We were in Granada over Easter Sunday so lots of the shops were shut and we very much stuck to the tourist trail. Walking around the Albacín map-free was our favourite way to spend time once we'd come down from the Alhambra high. It's like being in the Middle East and has a lovely vibe to it.
On our last morning, we happened across Lío café right by the cathedral. It was beautifully done out and did a cracking café con leche and tomato bread (we had become creatures of absolute habit!). We sat out in the sunshine overlooking the cathedral - the perfect end to a perfect holiday...
- Airbnb at Casa Entropia: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8829212
- Granada Card: http://en.granadatur.com/granada-card
- Alhambra tickets via their website: https://www.alhambra.org/en/buy-alhambra-tickets.html