At long last I made my first trip to Andalucia to visit Granada this weekend. One of the things that has been most surprising since arriving in Madrid is that everyone- literally everyone– prefers to leave Madrid on the weekends; as in, no one stays in the city. To such an extent, I was delighted to finally be among the travelers instead of among the stayers when I boarded the bus for the puente (long weekend). It didn’t take long for me to realize the wisdom in what I’ve been rejecting. There’s a reason people leave, and a good one.
Granada is a (relatively) painless bus ride from Madrid and far more economical than the train alternative. No one loves a bus for multiple hours but I loved the extra padding in my bank account (it cashed in at less than 1/3 of the price of the train!) and was clean and timely. Having selected the early bird option, we arrived in Granada early afternoon. To fight the static feeling in my legs from the trip down, I immediately elected to join the Street Art and Caves tour. This is among the great works we saw. It may seem a little much, but take into account the perspective and consideration necessarily for the multiple flights of stairs and then look again.
In addition to seeing art work from far more creative people than I could ever hope to be, the three-hour walk (mostly uphill — gasp!) provided some stunning views of the city. Here’s a glimpse of the Alhambra from a restaurant. Imagine having a glass of wine with this as your backdrop.
Saturday was devoted to visiting the Alhambra, which required the entire day. The complex is enormous. If I had to do it again I would split it into two days: the palace on one day and the grounds on another. By the end of the day I could feel myself losing the ability to properly appreciate what I was seeing out of sheer overload for the beauty and magnificence of everything I’d already seen.
Like the rest of the world, the palaces are where I willingly passed hours of my life and would never wish to have them back. It is unlike anything else I have ever seen. The minutia of detail was breath-taking from the individually crafted floor tiles to the uncountable rivets in the ceiling. Here are a few shots wherein I attempt to capture a magnitude of what I saw.
Granada is nearly as infamous for its policies on tapas as it is for the Alhambra. That is, the ability to select the tapa you want with each drink you order. In most cases a tapa is quite similar to the American concept of finger food: a bit or two, something small to whet the appetite or carry you through. But in the case of Granada this is different. Most tapas, which are free, range from generous to meal-like portions. There are exceptions as there are in anything but for the most part the food is also rather delicious and the tapas a elegir (choose your tapa) menu is rather substantial. This was the first tidbit out of all of my Spanish friends’ mouthes when I told them I was visiting.
Seeeeeee??? You should go. Need more reason still? Because the rest of Granada is beautiful as well. Here’s a shot of the interior of some nondescript cathedral I found on a side street. If this kind of structure isn’t even tour book worthy, imagine what the rest of the city is like!
I particularly like the below shot because it captures some of the extent, as well as the contrast from the above cathedral, to which Granada has been morphed by its equal heritage of Christian and Islamic conquest. The culture of tea, incense and Moorish decor thrives to this day, giving this visitor the feeling she’d sailed far from the shores of Spain and onto another continent altogether.
Like I said, you should go to Granada.