Granada, Spain

On 20 February, we left the drizzle and cold of England for sunny Spain. We flew on a packed Easy Jet flight out of Newcastle, and I’m pretty sure we were the only sober people not working the flight. We took off at 8AM. By the time we landed, I was imagining painful deaths for the large group of extremely drunk women directly behind us. They had arrived at the last minute (presumably finishing up their sixth or seventh breakfast cocktails had held them up) and so weren’t able to sit exactly together. That did not bother them, because their voices were able to carry over the rows separating them. The guy next to us was with them, but he was trying to pass out, and so they kept yelling at him and/ or hitting him to get him to participate in their revels.

Fortunately, we arrived in Malaga before blood was shed and I ended up in jail. We drove to Granada, stopping for lunch and a short hike along the way. Craig used to live in Spain, but it’s been a few years, and I am limited to Taco Bell menu Spanish, so we took a bit of a gamble when we ordered. I ended up with four ice cream scoops of various pates and piles of crackers and bread. Yummy, but a bit much for one person. Luckily, there were several stray dogs wandering around who seemed to sense that I had food to share. They had all perfected their puppy dog eyes, so the lion’s share of the pate went to them.

We did not walk up from the bottom.

Mmmm... a lifetime supply of pate.

I was out of food. These are NOT his puppy dog eyes.

After we had eaten more than our fill and fed the neighborhood strays, we continued on to Granada, where we stayed at a tiny hotel right in the heart of the city. It’s pretty compact, so we were able to walk to all the sites we wanted to see. At night, we would pick a direction, and bar hop in lieu of dinner, the time-honored Granada tradition of el tapeo. Granada is famous for its tapas, and we were not disappointed. Free with each drink, you get a snack. At some places (usually the fancy looking ones), the snack was a cup of potato chips. At most places, it was hot and had meat/ egg and cheese with bread. The first place we went to on our first night made us laugh: the free “snack” was a plate of jamon larger than the one the Spain Club serves for about 18,000 won.

Now where did I put that jamon?

Our first full day, we went to Alhambra and spent the morning wandering around the grounds and various buildings. I think it would be even nicer with the plants in bloom, but it was quite impressive even in winter. On our way there, we got a bit lost and ended up in a garden next door (Carmen de los Mártires). I imagine it gets passed over quite a bit, being right next to a massive historical site, but it was worth a look around and we whiled away a bit of time there before continuing on. As we walked up to the entrance to Alhambra, a man approached us to give us directions. He was quite helpful and chatty and while he was talking, he started cleaning my trainers. When he was done, he did the same to Craig’s. At that point, he asked for 10 Euros for the shoeshines. In the end, Craig gave him 5, but I still think that was highway robbery, since the entire conversation/ shoe “shine” had taken less than five minutes.

At Alhambra.

The lower part of Alhambra as seen from the tower.

After having our fill of gardens and historical buildings, we headed back down the hill into the city center. We took our time, enjoying the various neighborhoods and all the churches. When we stopped for lunch, we were entertained by buskers that were actually entertaining. The guy had a one-man-band set up with a foot-controlled drum, a loudspeaker, a horn, and a banjo. The girl played the accordion while hula-hooping. And they could actually sing and play their instruments. I gave them a well-deserved fiver, and so had several other diners before me, so I imagine they were making a pretty good living.

If only all buskers were this entertaining.

In addition to Alhambra and free tapas, Granada is a beautiful little town with enough to see to occupy several days. I had a great time and was able to go to two church services on Ash Wednesday, since there were churches on just about every corner. We literally spent the three days there just walking around, amazed at how beautiful the buildings were. The people were really nice, too, trying to understand our Spanglish at every turn. For a couple of euros, we even got to walk around the bullfighting ring and see what life is like behind the scenes.

I got my ash on here. It's even more amazing on the inside, but taking photos during mass is a bit much, even for a lapsed Catholic like myself.

Craig demonstrating his bullfighting prowess.

I'm sure this stuff was state-of-the-art at some point.