Andalusia - Granada

Jan 19, 2012

To say the least, I have it good when it comes to total surprises in life. This time, the surprise was a trip to somewhere warm (especially for January), known for its more than delicious tapas (and be aware this contains a lot of it!) and beautiful landscapes; we were off to southern Spain, Andalucia! 

After landing to Malaga airport early in the morning, we rented a car and hit the road. The plan was to follow the coastline till Motril (Costa Tropical) and then take an inland road via Sierra Nevada National Park up until Granada. Since the drive itself was not too long, we were able to make several small stops on the way and enjoy breakfast/ lunch on the beach. 



In the evening we got to our destination, and were thrilled to get around the town to see what it had to offer. And boy were we in for a treat; Granada turned out to be the place to be for free tapas- yes, you heard me right, free. The deal was to get any drink from their menu and a tapa would be served without a charge. Well, what can I say other than we had a blast that night- and spent zero euros for dinner! The thing was that this was known around the entire town, which means that all the bars & restaurants had the same tapas policy...;).

Later when walking back to the hotel, the temperature had dropped pretty low. Granada lies in the altitude of about 750 meters, so even though days can be pleasantly warm, nights can get pretty chilly. We were just really glad to have our scarves and gloves packed with us!

Shine and rise. As soon as we got up, we went out to look for a good breakfast spot and came across this nice local eatery. We had some Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) sandwich, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice and cup of coffee. No doubt we’d be going home with few extra kilos ;). After the breakfast we strolled to the district called Albayzin, an old Moorish quarter located on the opposite hill from the Alhambra Palace. Plenty of stairs and narrow cobbled alleys later we got to the Plaza of St Nicholas, where magnificent views over the Alhambra and the Sierras opened up. The place had a very relaxed vibe to it, people were just chilling out and following the street performances, and most of all, enjoying the breath-taking views.

The quarter was like a small authentic village on the hillside of the city, full of small things worth noticing; traditional handicrafts as an exterior wall decorations and plenty of mosaic details. Finally we got to the Alhambra, and visited first the Generalife gardens, which was just next to the palace. Apparently the ancient kings used the garden for a place to get away from their busy lives inside the palace, and who could blame them- the views down to the castle and city below were just fantastic (also an UNESCO World Heritage site). Interestingly we ran into two Turkish guys who were also about to visit the palace and got into talking, and long story short, they ended up being my handbag source in Istanbul later that spring ;).

The palace itself was truly worth the visit. The architectural mix of Spanish and Muslim art was very remarkable and every corner was full of detailed carvings. We walked through the palace for hours- taking a bunch of pictures (some would say too many), and admiring the views across the city below as well as the mountain range in the background; the place really had a magical feel to it. 

After soaking up enough art and history we started to descent back to the downtown. We had walked a lot without a proper lunch and so the first good place we spotted, we dived right in. What a great place again; the owner proposed us some house specialties as well as their wines, and surely, with a glass of wine the tapa was for free. You just gotta love Granada! After our prolonged aperitif, we got around the city a bit before heading back to our hotel. Later that night we re-did the previous night, obviously, and met up with our new Turkish friends- great night out (but cold!). 

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