“I could live here”
One of the questions I always entertain myself with when I’m in a new place is always, ‘Could I live here?’ Since I am skeptical and largely critical, the answer always lies in the negative categories. However, it was an instant ‘YES’ with Granada.
I had heard many great things about this place. Mostly because my good friend lived here during an ERASMUS exchange and seemed to enjoy every minute.
After our short stay in Malaga, where we waved goodbye to the pouring rain and grimly-lit street, we took a bus to Granada through the barren-like fields (to be fair it was winter), which reminded me of the drive from Rome to Naples, but lacking in lushness.
Upon arrival – where we followed our own intuition as there was no signs or announcement, but the bus just stopped and lots of bohemian-looking people trailed out, so we followed suit – the place wasn’t grand in itself, but then again, no bus station is. It was warm and sunny, so we made our way down a long highway road to the city centre, walking past the Plaza de Torros and parts of the University, until we finally reached what seemed to be a pedestrian ‘Plaza’ filled with people, benches, and lined with autumn coloured trees.
Only then did we realise we were only just entering what was the heart of Granada. The hustle and bustle seemed to be coming from a maze of alleyways, each leading to a different square, each more charming than the next. We spent all all our days there just walking around with no route in mind, and still when we left we felt like we had missed out on so much!
We spent the first afternoon and evening climbing the hilly cobbled streets, coming across charming restaurants and buildings, and overlooking the Alhambra at sunset, and walking down the forestry tracks. The next day we spent exploring as much as the Alhambra as we could. Instead of paying a ridiculous fee for the whole tour, we ended up paying to see the Garden, which was simply stunning. A lot of the Alhambra is free to walk around, so unless you’re into underground caves and a guide showing you Arabian baths, it’s worth just paying for the Garden fee and doing the rest by yourself. The Alhambra took up most of our day, and we finally headed back down into the town for a late lunch.
Compared to Malaga, Seville and Cordoba, Granada won the prize for the most authentic tapas and the best cuisine experience. Maybe it’s because it’s a student town, but wherever we ended up we felt like we were sitting next to locals (and got the local prices!). The idea of tapas is that you get a lovely food taster when you order a drink, free of charge. It originates when a King of Spain back in the day got a stomach infection, and was instructed to eat small portions of food. Now, the bar will just make up a plate of tapas which they’ll hand out with any drink you order. However due to the money they can make out of us tourists, most places we were in Spain (except Granada) ended up charging us.
Like Italy, Spain is a place that really wakes up in the evening. Shops are open until late (I’m talking about H&M and Zara that are open until 10pm – except on Sundays where everything, even a supermarket – is tightly shut), streams of people rush in (from where? Who knows), and every restaurant and cafe is crowded, buskers are out singing and students are out drinking and sitting in the squares.
On one of these evenings, we walked through the Albaicin, probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Alabicin is part of the old town composed with cobbled streets and mismatching apartments and tiny houses, and plenty of sellers displaying every sort of bohemian souvenir you can imagine (I even bought some tea for myself, which is now sitting in a drawer untouched, four months on). The best part of this walk was when we ended up by the Mirador San Nicolas, watching the sunset over Granada. Although it was definitely an International Students / Tourist meet-up, it seemed like the appropriate way to end our evening, listening to the Spanish guitar, and the Alhambra in a golden light.
Hilariously, after soaking up as much of the Spanish culture as we could, we stumbled across a trusty Irish bar. Since my boy is Irish, he quite fancied a Guinness after 6 days of travelling (I think only Irish people would understand this..), and we happened to be there when there was a conglomeration of Irish people – who lived in Granda – playing Irish tunes. They were some of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard, and a worthwhile experience.
All in all, Granada was special. It’s a town I would truly love to spend months in, soaking up the sun and listening to the Spanish guitar, while watching that sun go down on the Alhambra every evening. And if I ever got tired of it? Well, there’s always the Irish pub.