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August 23rd 2016
Published: September 6th 2016
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We’re on the bus after a marathon of a walk to get to Granada train station (lots of construction going on so we had to walk miles out of the way and around to get to the train station). So be because of that we are busing it to Antequerra to hop on a AVE train to Cordoba. Let’s recap the last 3 days in Granada.

Ah, Granada. The jewel in the crown that is Andalucía or Al-Andalus. We arrived to a really nice new hotel and immediately went to get our Granada card from the tourist office. The Alhambra, palace of the Moors, is notoriously known for selling out well in advance (only 6600 tickets a day) and as we knew from our last trip, the only way to avoid lining up at 6am to get one of the few remaining tickets on the day is to buy tickets online in advance. Unfortunately for us, the official website won’t accept foreign cards, so luckily Bill did some research in Málaga and found the Granada card, in addition to access to the Alhambra and Nazrid palace, access to other attractions in the city such as the Cathedral. After we picked it up we sat down to a lunch of tapas which consisted of lots of meat on bread and a bottle of vino tinto (red wine). Afterward we went for a walk around town and to the artisan Silk Market, a bustling little bazaar of Moroccan shops selling goods from North Africa and beyond (I’m assuming China and Pakistan made). A symbol of its rich Moorish past, Granada has a large North African community and is most prevalent in Albayzín, the Arab quarter, and its Moroccan bazaars dotted all over town.

That evening, typical Spanish hour of dining 10pm we went for a walk amongst locals and tourists alike. What amazes me is typical late Spanish dinners, common in Southern Europe in fact, a novelty for us but a normal part of life for locals. Families, young and old are out to enjoy the evening and good food. In Granada, the old tradition of free Tapas (small morsels of delicious food) with a drink is still prevalent. We finally decided on a place which was really popular, for drinks and Tapas!

The next day we went to Alhambra, the jewel of Andalucía, home to the Moorish kingdom for 8 centuries. Today, Spain’s most popular attraction with around 6 million visitors a year. The Generalife vast array of carefully maintained gardens and hedges surrounds small courtyards and fountains provide shade from the blazing sun and really fantastic photo opportunities. Amongst carefully preserved structures of churches (Christian influence) and Hammams (Arab Baths) is the Citadel, old fortress used to protect the Alhambra from invading forces. The main attraction, the Nasrid palace, is carefully monitored so that visitors are permitted in groups at allotted times (to avoid overcrowding). It is spectacular. Intricate Islamic designed arches, walls, roofs, courtyards, fountains you name it. The palace is huge – a photographers delight.

That evening we had booked a tour up through the Albayzín, Arab quarter, and the Gypsy quarter of Sacromonte, finishing at a cave to see a Flamenco performance. We did this on our last trip in 2010 as well. We were picked up near our hotel and taken a few km up the hill firstly to Albayzín to walk around the cobblestoned streets to view cute houses and ‘Carmens’ (gardens) decorating the facades of these houses. Afterward we stopped at San Nicolas square, to view the magnificent illuminated Alhambra at night, with the crowds gathering to take in this view with a busking group of young Flamenco singers a d dancers doing an impromptu performance in the square.

The Flamenco performance, the proper one, in the cave was FANTASTIC!!! So vibrant, full of passion, sorrow, heartache…..all the emotions music and dance evolved from persecuted groups evokes. 4 dancers (including one man) a singer and guitarist kept us entranced and entertained for an hour or so. Afterward, after being dropped off in town we went for a rather late dinner (12.30am!) tapas at the trip advisor famous Bodegas Castañeda which was still bustling, but had tables free. We stayed to eat and drink until they closed an hour later.

The next day we went to the other attractions on our Granada card – the main Cathedral and San Jeronimo monastery. We also walked through more Moroccan bazaars in Albayzín and had tea in the many teashops. Late afternoon I went to Hammam Al-Andalus. Refreshing and relaxing, in a way. As visually as impressive as Sevilla, even more so actually , but it was really hot! But that’s the point right? In Sevilla, the baths seemed to be more laid out, climate controlled so its cooler outside the bath that inside. But in Granada it was just…..hog and humid. Still I had a lovely time. The space was smaller, decorations more intricate so an appearance of more ‘authentic’. I had a Kessa glove scrub and massage. Change rooms too were humid so impossible to blow dry hair! Afterward I went for a walk along the Dauro river looking at shops. We then went back to the San Nicolas lookout before having a Paella dinner in Albayzín before walking back to our hotel. Perfect way to finish our stay in Granada!!

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