After my photo-less post about the Alhambra I’m feeling like a bit of a failure. Excuse: the hostel I was staying in had mediocre wifi and there were no outlets in the rooms to plug in my phone while I slept! I woke up with less than 10% remaining on my battery for my tour of the Alhambra. I will do my best to somehow upload the photos from my camera ASAP.
These pictures are from my first night in Granada. I was sitting in the common area, fighting with my wifi connection, when a woman announced there was a free tour and I jumped at the opportunity.
So, when you do this tour, dress appropriately: closed shoes (runners or hikers) and pants/shorts. I was wearing a dress and flip-flops (it was really hot that day). After we left, the tour guide made me go back to put on proper shoes. I assumed it was because we were going to be walking up cobble-stone hills and stairs; that’s 1/2 the reason. The other half: hiking/climbing a mountain.
First, the beginning of the tour took us through an area called the Albayzin. It was narrow streets, sharp corners, white-wash buildings and cobble-stone stairs. There is a lot of moorish architecture here as it was a Muslim city before the Catholics took over. Vendors line the narrow streets selling ‘genie pants’ (my name for them), hashish, baked goods and jewelry, just to name a few.
Blown away yet?
The Realejo neighborhood was next.
The picture above of the sign is for a house very typical in this area called Los Carmenes. These houses were located in a very desirable area, with views of the city and the Alhambra, so the very rich live here. They have big gardens, fantastic views, and of you look closely you will see a pomegranate tree!!
Then, we climbed. Well, first it was a moderate hike to some amazing views of Granada at sunset.
After the evening tour and the Alhambra I was tired. There is a lot of walking in Granada, and a lot of it is uphill. Just when you think you’ve reached the top, you turn a corner and find more stairs! Of course, this is why Granada is so beautiful. Fact: when the city was first built (behind a wall like every other ancient city in Spain of course), great consideration was given to keeping it safe. The purpose of small streets and sharp turns was to ensure that a large army could not fit all at once! Clever! Also, the small alleyways and sharp, blind turns made it difficult for enemies to find their way.
Enemies and tourists alike have a hard time maneuvering the streets of Granada. But don’t fret, there are always kind people around to give you directions, and my trick: when in doubt either go up or down. If I wanted to go back to the hostel, I would always go down the hill and if I wanted to get to a view, I would go up! Pretty simple, and it seemed to work!
So what did I find?
The same view from the evening tour! Yay!! Haha it was quite amazing, even the second time, and gypsies gather in this square and play guitar, sing and sell handmade jewelry. How’s that for culture?
I also wandered into the ‘center’ of town near the cathedral. Take care in this area, as it’s busy and full of tourists, making it very easy for pick-pockets! And remember: don’t accept the branches! The women in this area, I noticed, were very aggressive!
There were plenty of cute shops selling tea and spices, as well as adorable restaurants (like the one above) tucked away in narrow alleyways. I also stumbled on an outdoor market! More moorish goodies and teas!
I spent the remainder of my day hiking through the Albayzin. There is the gypsy area of Sacromonte, but I didn’t wander there on my own. Partly due to being nervous by myself and also partly because I was tired of climbing! I still saw many beautiful streets though.
Well, that was Granada! The hostel redeemed itself my last night. I watched the chef make real Paella and he also played beautiful Spanish guitar. Awesome!
Just a few more pictures of beautiful Granada to end the post! Three more nights and I’ll be on Lisboa, Portugal!