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Published: October 27th 2011
From Córdoba we headed to Granada
– another fabled city. First though we stopped at a place called Moncilla to look at wine. We had heard about it and thought it might be worth a look. It wasn't.
The place was pretty crappy, let's be honest. We didn't linger, and made our way to Granada where, in a good spot (i.e. next to the Al Campo and the bus stop) we found Camping Sierra Nevada. It was close to the old city and pretty reasonable in cost.
We set up camp, aided by some good Alhambra beer (one of the best I had found in Spain) and some excellent olives bought from a random servo on the way – the whole place is covered with olives, so you sort of need to eat them. The ground was again rock hard, but we had come prepared by grabbing some more good pegs from Decathlon. It was hot again, though not as hot as Córdoba.
In Granada your best bet for seeing the sights – and there are many – is the Bono Turistico
. You can get it from a few different places, but we chose the Science Centre –
sort of a bigger, Spanish version of Questacon (hey, Questy is great, but it doesn't have a 5 tonne rock floating on a film a water that you can move with one finger, right Sarah?).
This ticket gets you into most of the attractions in Granada, including, most importantly, the Palacio de Nasrid in the Alhambra. We also took the time to have a look through the science centre. It had some really good stuff there. Of particular interest to me was the Escher exhibition that happened to be on.
We finished there, then headed into the old centre. The Alhambra could wait – here, there were tapas. Granada is one of the few cities that still practices the free tapas as long as you keep drinking. Well, it was a tough ask, but we managed it. There was a tapas trail, so we followed. It took us a couple of establishments to learn the system. Basically, when you order a drink, the food comes out. The first round you order you get given the cheapest thing on the menu – at our first stop we got caracoles
. Snails, to the rest of you. They may have been
the cheapest, but they were excellent.
The trick was to stay at the one place and keep ordering – the more rounds, the better the tapas get. At most places the first round was often something called Russian Salad – sort of a potato salad with peas. Then it moved to something a bit better – maybe some Serrano ham. Then you might get some truly excellent anchovies.
You could spend an evening bar hopping, eating tapas, getting happily pissed, and never actually getting dinner.
So we did.
The following morning was a little slow, but no worse than any others. We were in no particular hurry - we had our allotted time for the Alhambra, and that was 11:30. We had to arrive at 10.30 according to the ticket – probably because it was so hard to figure out where to go. Then it was a matter of dodging the tour groups – from everywhere. Malaysian, Indian, American, Kiwi.
But... it was worth it. The building was pretty spectacular, classy, if you like. The architecture truly amazing. Columns, intricate carved ceilings, fantastic doorways, and, always, the gardens. The gardens were special. Some with fountains,
some simply cool oases of green in the hot Spanish summer. We explored for more than our allotted time, taking too may pictures, and, somewhat surprisingly, managed to get quite a few peaceful moments in the Alhambra away from the tour groups and other travellers like us.
Then we went back to the campsite, attacked the giant bottles of olives, drank beer, and watched the locals play padel
– a strange cross between squash and tennis.
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