Days 25-28 in Spain: Granada!!

I spent this past weekend traveling to Granada, located  in the south of Spain. “Granada is the former moorish stronghold of Spain and came to prominence in 1200’s at peak of Muslim power. Even after Seville and Cordoba fell to Catholic monarchs,Granada stood as last surviving Islamic capital in Spain. It’s where the sultans took their final stand against Catholic invaders. Fleeing Seville and Cordoba to the west, thousands of Moors flocked here. Many of them were artisans and the Alhambra and other buildings testify to their skills. In 1492 Granada fell to the Catholic and Queen Isabella began to “Christianize” Granada, ordering the construction of a cathedral and royal chapel. She also ordered that Muslim mosques be repurposed for Christian use (Frommer’s Seville, Granada, and the best of Andalusia).

Even though it was scorching hot during the day, the incredible sites that this city has to offer made the heat tolerable. We left for Granada on Thursday night, and arrived around 10 o’clock at night. We checked into the Residencia we were staying at (a friend of mine from this trip studied abroad in Granada last year and stayed in a dorm with other students and a host mom, so she recommended that we stay here too), and upon checking in, we walked around the city to prepare for the weekend ahead of us. On Friday morning, we woke up and got an early start to the day. We grabbed breakfast at a local cafe, and headed over to the Museo De Las Cuevas Del Sacromonte. Granada is known for the numerous caves throughout the city, housing gypsies, restaurants, clubs, and museums. We went to the most well-known museum and learned about the “gypsy” culture and their way of life living in the caves. It was definitely interesting to say the least, and these gypsies seemed to have lived in luxury because there was more cold air in their caves than there was outside! After the museum, we grabbed lunch and headed over to La Alhambra which is an amazing historical site housing various palaces, gardens, army barracks from centuries ago, and has an immaculate view of the city everywhere you turn. We had to purchase our tickets to get in a few days in advance because only 7,700 tickets are sold a day, which may seem like a lot, but seeing as this is probably the most well-known tourist attraction in Granada, everyone tries to get in. La Alhambra was built in the mid 14th century by Arab rulers, which is evident when looking at the beautiful Arab designs every which way you look throughout all of the palaces. Not to mention, the gardens throughout the whole site are beyond astonishing, and really make you want to never leave!

We walked around every possible area of La Alhambra until they were getting ready to close, and decided to spend the remainder of the evening “tapas hopping.” Granada is known to be one of the few remaining cities in Spain where almost every restaurant or bar you go to offers a free “tapas” (or mini appetizer) for every drink you purchase. So my friends and I took this opportunity to “culturize” ourselves by taking advantage of this offer. We drank and ate tapas in various restaurants, and headed back to our residencia to get a good night sleep before waking up early again the following day. When Saturday morning came around, we went to a churreria by our residencia, and ate churros con chocolate, a typical dish here in Spain. The churros were so fresh and the chocolate was so thick that the combination really hit home for those of us who have a sweet-tooth (or a mouth full of sweet-teeth). We continued our explorations by checking out the Catedral de la Encarnacion de Granada, a beautiful cathedral located right next to where we were staying. We then headed over to the Plaza de Toros, Granada’s bullfighting stadium. The stadium was pretty cool to see, and even though I didn’t think it would be, it was completely different from the one I had seen in Sevilla. The stadium was open for us to walk through on our own, and although there were no guided tours going on (and we were the only ones here), we were able to go onto the bullfighting field which was pretty fun. Our next stop was the Federico Garcia Lorca park, named after a famous Spanish writer known for his controversial plays and works. After checking out the park, we went to Albayzín, known to be Granada’s most fascinating quarter with it’s breathtaking views of the city and gorgeous architecture. When we finished up at Albayzín, we walked made our way over to a teteria, Arab lounges that serve tea, traditional Middle Eastern pastries, and caximbah (also known as hookah or water pipe). After relaxing and enjoying tea in the teteria, we walked through the Mercado de Artesania, an Arab/Moroccan market selling souvineers and handmade middle eastern goods, showing the true roots of this city’s history. We practically bargain shopped until it just wasn’t possible anymore, and when we finished, we ran back to the residencia, relaxed a little, showered and went out for the night. We grabbed dinner first at another tapas bar and took a cab to Cambodia, a club famous for being located in a cave in the Albayzín area. The view at night from this club was remarkable, and definitely set the scene to have an awesome night.

Unfortunately, time flew quicker than we could imagine and before we knew it, the sun had risen and it was time to head back home to Alcala. If you couldn’t already tell, Granada was beyond amazing, and now holds the title for my favorite city here in Spain. It was so great that I’m even thinking about studying abroad there sometime once the program I’m currently on finishes. I guess we’ll see what happens, but it’s definitely a thought in my mind 🙂