Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Visit to Granada

With both our exams over, we managed to cadge a trip to Granada (known locally as Graná) by staying with the parents of my family friend. I'd just met them once before, in Madrid, but they invited me and my boyfriend then to come and stay with them. God forbid we'd leave Spain without seeing their city, but really I'm so glad we didn't.

On yet another coach trip (one of five I've taken in the last month), we were by now well-prepared for five hours of sitting still. The best way to do it is take lots of food and water, a charged phone, books, music and pee at every opportunity. I haven't travelled with anyone I can't be around for long periods of time, but I imagine that's best avoided too.
The river, which is only about a foot deep
There seems to have been a bit of a heatwave in Spain recently - it hasn't been below 30 degrees for a good month - but it was even hotter in Granada. We got mild sunstroke wandering around the peaks of Albaycín, the old Muslim quarter, so the lovely abuela we were staying with gave us silly hats for the Alhambra.

In other news, my camera is still broken, but here are some shots I took with my phone around the city:
The Cathedral
El paseo de los tristes - BEANS?!
Inside the Cathedral
Arab Baths - the old hammam
Museo de San Juan de Dios 
Albaycín - the white houses are called Carmens
Dodgy shot of flamenco in a cave
The Alhambra
The best advice we got on going to the Alhambra was: book beforehand; put aside a whole day to go; take hats, food and more water than you think you need. We bought our tickets from an ATM outside a Caixa, and went by the town hall to get all the leaflets and maps they had from a very friendly lady. 
The gardens
Palacio de Carlos V - square outside and round inside
Most pretentious sentence ever
View of Albaycín
Inside Palacio Nazarie 
Paseo de los leones 
Petal archway
Although Granada has a reputation for being a great place to ir de tapeo, it doesn't have the same generosity as Madrid. We did get some free tapas with drinks, but just nuts and olives, and the tapas for sale are mostly pretty expensive and full of meat. It reminded me of Valencia, with the clear blue sky and orange trees everywhere, and of Madrid with the streets full of little bars and Baroque architecture. Despite being a tiny city, it's full of character - sloping down the hills from the Sierra Nevada, and considered the jewel in the crown of Ferdinand and Isabella's kingdom. Besides obviously seeing the Alhambra, it's worth visiting to see this part of Andalucía, wander round the Moorish and Spanish architecture, watch a flamenco show, note the influence of Moroccan culture on the city, eat a lot of pricey meat tapas, appreciate the ingenuity of having cool water running everywhere in a hot climate (plus it's so pretty!), try pianonos; like a bizcocho-flan hybrid, and roast in the sun. What more could you want?