So I've inevitably fallen behind yet again. Don't act surprised, it was always going to happen.
Anyway, three weeks ago I travelled to Granada with a few of the friends I've made since I've been in Madrid. This is what they look like all time.
All together now
Now that that's out of the way, Andy and I flew down to Granada after class on the Thursday afternoon (the girls were catching a bus down the following morning). We both forgot our passports but only I went back and got mine. In retrospect, this was probably unnecessary since Andy had no trouble. That being said, I think it's both airline policy and the law to travel with some sort of ID but oh well. It's Spain.
The neighbourhood we were staying in in Granada was called Albaicín, the old moorish quarter. Granada is an old city and it was the last major city in Spain to be recaptured from the Moors in 1492. As a result of 800 years of Arabic rule, the city still has a distinctly Arabic feel. In fact, in many parts of the city, Arabic is the language you're most likely to hear spoken on the street. It's difficult to express the quaintness of the Albaicín neighbourhood. The streets are narrow and cobbled and the main street through the area might only be wide enough for two people to walker side by side. Half the walls are on an angle and everything just feels ancient, but in a homely way. Granada is also built on a hillside in the Sierra Nevada mountain range so nothing is flat.
On Friday morning the girls arrived and we promptly set about to... Not do too much. We wandered about the town and checked out a few of the local sites (like the admittedly pretty impressive cathedral). The main attraction in Granada is the Alhambra palace complex on a hill overlooking the town but we only had tickets for Sunday morning.
Malia and I ended up exploring more while the others headed back to the hostel to nap. We found some cool art galleries and whatnot. The hostel ran a free tour around Albaicín and up to the mountains to watch the sunset in the afternoons. Malia and I almost missed it, except for some impressive and probably unnecessary urban exploration of the narrow Albaicín alleyways on my part.
If anything, as we climbed higher through the Albaicín things only got more ancient and more adorable. The views from St Nicholas plaza out over the Alhambra were breathtaking but the highlight was climbing the mountain over looking the Alhambra and Granada to watch the sun setting. The mountain where we watched the sun set is also home to a serious of man-made caves. In these caves live an array of people who either can't afford or don't want to live in town. We were even invited to come inside to drink coffee in the cave/house of some Sengalese gypsies.
I don't even know what's happening here
The next day is kind of a blur. I'm not really sure what we did. We just kind of wandered around, through the Jewish quarter. I don't think it was a particularly eventful day but it looks like we had fun. This is why I shouldn't wait almost a month to write a blog post. It ends up sounding short and disjointed like this one.
The youth these days!
Sunday was day we finally got to go inside the Alhambra. There is a reason why the Alhambra is the most visited site in Spain, and one of the most visited sites in all of Europe. Constructed by the Moors in the 14th century on the site of Roman ruins and added to steadily by a series of Islamic sultans and then Christian kings, 'la Alhambra' means 'the red one'. It's one of the best preserved examples of Islamic architecture in Spain, as well as surprisingly tasteful Renaissance additions by the Spanish after the reconquista. Simply, it's beautiful. Unfortunately, I took an outlandish number of photos but I seem to have lost most of the, somehow. Here's the best of what's left.
It's very difficult to get tickets, simply because of the super high demand to visit the site. If you want to go, it's definitely easier to book ahead, especially in peak tourist season. We were visiting on a Sunday in very off peak season and we still nearly didn't get tickets.
Anyway, nothing of much importance happened after that. I feel genuinely bad that I let so much time slip by between visiting Granada and writing about it because it is genuinely one of the best places I've been to in Spain. Not just the Alhambra or Albacín (although they're both amazing) but just the vibe. Granada is a very relaxed, slow moving, hippy student town. I met a few westerners who had visited whilst traveling through Spain and had simply never left and I can totally understand why.