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Published: July 11th 2014
This morning I woke up with a sore throat--but it was only my left tonsil that was swollen. I thought gelato for brunch would be just the ticket! I put my new walking shoes on and I was out the door. Oh yeah, about my shoes, I'm now trekking down these cobblestone hills with the utmost confidence! I gave in to buying some comfortable walking sandals despite not wanting to spend a bunch on quality shoes and lets just face it--they're not the cutest. In any case, I purchased my new shoes yesterday after glancing down at my Tom's and seeing that my big toe was starting to peek through.
While I was out getting gelato in the center of town, I also decided it would be a good idea to finally pick up a map of Granada. I've stumbled upon many neat places this past week or so just by chance but can never remember how to return because this place can be such a labyrinth. After picking up the map, I walked around town for about two and a half hours, popping into popular clothing stores when the heat became too intense and I needed to cool off in the air condition. Then I found a great big plaza that was partially shaded and I sat on a bench for about an hour reading and taking small breaks to people watch. Last night I went over my travel itineraries for Portugal & Morocco in August and realized how go-go-go my trip will be at that juncture. Today I really enjoyed the slow pace and have told myself that I don't have to have something planned every day. I prefer to take in this beautiful city at a slow pace truly succumbing to this idea of getting lost while I'm here.
This evening I was exploring the Plaza Nuevo area when I took a slight turn off the main road and walked past a place that had a small group of people gathering outside. I stopped to ask two women what the place was. They explained that it's an Arabic bath house and that it's totally worth my time to check it out. I went inside to check the pricing and learned through a bit of research that the Hammam Al Andalus baths were the first Arab baths in Europe to be opened following their closure in the 16th century. its located right at the foot of the Alhambra on the ruins of an old hammam (a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath, where Moroccans habitually go each week to cleanse themselves). I'm hoping to check it out perhaps tomorrow.
I also took some time today to think about traveling on a budget For an extended period of time. Granted, right now I'm not working and that will be my focus as soon as I return to the states. I recognize that work doesn't always allow people to travel for an extended period of time but in the case the opportunity presents itself, I've learned a few money savers that have really helped thus far during my stay here in Granada. I will share them below:
1. Airbnb rental--I scored a cozy little place without too many frills but in a central part of El Albyzin and I'm paying significantly less than what I've ever paid for a month of rent in the Bay Area (I know that's not saying a lot)
2. Apartment with a kitchen--this has allowed me to but groceries and eat many meals at home. Although it's nice to eat out when on vacation, there are tons of opportunities for that but there's something to be said about coming home after buying groceries at the store down the road and preparing a meal of local foods. It's made me feel like I'm really living and not just passing through.
3. I walk EVERYWHERE! I've been here for over a week and have only taken a taxi once. That was the night I arrived at the bus station and I had no idea how to get to my apartment. Besides, wheeling my mom's zebra suitcase up the cobblestone mountain (pre walking shoes) would have been ridiculous!
4. Most simple pleasures are free! Sightseeing and finding amazing photo opportunities don't cost a dime! Neither does sitting in a square to read a great book & people watch for a while.
5. Granada's customary free tapa with the purchase of a drink. Going to a local bar at night is a great way to meet people and as I've mentioned before, a great way to save money on dinner. After two drinks and two free tapas I'm usually satisfied.
6. Bringing my own refillable water bottle. It gets really hot during the day and I'm absolutely parched by the time I climb the hill on my way home. Having a refillable water bottle has been key since I drink so much water throughout the day. Also, most of the squares have a fountain that you can drink from or refill your water bottle with.
So there you have it! I'm sure I'll have more to add over the upcoming weeks.
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