Granada, Spain

 The city of Granada, Spain, is well known for one main reason: the Alhambra, Spain's most visited tourist sight. And while Granada is a pretty Spanish city, probably the only reason you'd come here and not visit the Alhambra is because you didn't book your tickets ahead of time, and it was fully booked during your stay. We booked our tickets almost three months in advance, and even then, there were already a number of tickets bought up. We had read about this on pretty much every site talking about Granada, and yet we still met people who were trying to get tickets upon arrival (lady in the ticket office who was incensed that she could not buy tickets for the following day; two young backpackers who were walking up the hill after noon while we were on our way down).

Granada is attractive enough that it wouldn't be a total disaster if you missed the Alhambra, but let me be clear: Do not miss the Alhambra.

After a GPS mixup and a strong helping hand from Miguel, our apartment owner, we rolled into town in the early afternoon and managed to find a parking spot a few minutes walk from our flat. It was tiny, but it was perfect.



Living/bedroom of our apartment, patio out the door to the left. Yes, that is the Alhambra in our living room window.

We did a nice walk around the city, getting our Alhambra tickets for the following morning, supper in the main square, and retired early so that we would be refreshed for our early morning arrival at the Alhambra (I really like saying that word).
There is a back way up to the hill to the site and while it's not a long walk, it's a continual uphill walk which is pretty tiring for some people, so don't do this if you're in a hurry and are budgeting your breaths.
But it's a glorious walk all the same, past old stone walls and through picturesque gates.




We arrived before the doors opened, so we had a chance to mill about and have a look over all of Granada, exploring the older parts of the fort.

What a glorious morning



Then our time came to visit the main parts of this old Moorish estate/castle/palace. I won't bore you with a description of everything, just know that this sort of detail was a Moorish specialty, and there are few areas that remain unadorned. It is beautiful, and it is spectacular. Book three months ahead of time, remember.








Maybe it wouldn't be quite so amazing on a dull, cloudy day, but we didn't have to worry about that.




Up the hill from the Alhambra, and included in your visit, is the Generalife, a sort of gardeny summer home for royalty that is more or less next door to your main palace. 

Gate at the Generalife


View from the top at the Generalife



We spent the afternoon and the following day getting to know our Granada better, visiting several shops with a dizzying array of merchandise, discovering lost plazas, busy streets, and quiet lanes, and walking centuries' old cobblestone streets on our way to dinner.
























The red, black, and white poster is for a meeting about "employers who are wanting to make slaves of workers in the hospitality industry." I expect I would have enjoyed attending.

One of the most pleasant things to do on a sunny afternoon is visit Mirador San Nicolas, the square where everyone gathers to sit and relax, sell their wares, or just enjoy the view. It has a real backpacker vibe, with lots of characters, some who look like they were just travelling through and managed to stick around for a few years or decades. The view is worth an extended stay.
There are quite a few attractive spots like this around the Albacin, the older area of Granada that sits on the hill to the north of the Alhambra, and it's fun to wander and explore in an attempt to find them all.

View of the Alhambra (right) and the Generalife (far left) from Mirador San Nicolas


Broader view of the plaza that draws a crowd throughout the day.


And at the end of every day, we'd wander back to our apartment, sometimes even in the middle of the day, to sit on our patio, put our feet up and enjoy our own private view.


Sadly, this little gem of an apartment seems to no longer be available, but there are loads of great ones that are. Just remember that no matter where you decide to stay or when you decide to go, book your Alhambra tickets early.

Prints of these images and more are available through 275days.com.
Spain here, and more of the world here.

Books about our travels can be found here.

































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