Leaving Murcia was like leaving a new home, with doting parents waving you down the corridor. From the plush seats of the bus we travellers watched a burning pink sunrise and the dry, ruin and cave dotted landscape.
This unique and totally new world seemed incredible to me; me, the Australian semi-German of North British ancestry now used to grey and rain. Adding the triumphant shapes of tall, distant mountains to the bus-window painting, this lazy trip across country became some sort of spectacular visual experience. Of course, the company made it all the better, and the promise of the destination, mountainous and historic Granada, also made it something great.
“Where Christ lost his nails/flip flops/lighter”
Granada, and wider Andalusia, couldn’t be more different to Murcia. I suppose having a local guide made me realise a lot of these differences and give me a deeper insight into it all, but even then, just looking at the styles of buildings, types of shops, different foods and even people’s fashions, it’s easy to see that Spain is a country of massive contrast, variety and multiple versions of history.
Granada, being the last Islamic stronghold to surrender to the Catholic reconquista, is replete and basically stuffed with Moorish and Islamic style. The tight market alleyways are covered in colourful blankets and Arabic lamps, and above the city stands the Alhambra, magnificent and decadently decorated fortress of the Arabic monarchs. This (I’m gonna probably over-exaggerate here but… Eh) glorious citadel is absolutely massive from afar and from inside, and every inch is covered in the beautiful swirling script and decorations of the Arabic ruling class.
Of course, Granada is still distinctly Spanish aswell, with a host of amazing tapas bars, flamenco shows and even tango lessons. Everything you could want as a tourist to Spain is there, but there is also so much more. What makes Granada so interesting is the cultures that helped make it the city it is today.
Among the mossy tiled rooves and winding alleyways near Paseo de los Tristes (the “Way of the Sad People” where funeral processions took place, but where now are bars and awesome views of the Alhambra) there lies the museum of the forgotten people (Museo de Olvidados), a memorial to the expunged Jewish history of Spain. Further on from that is the neighbourhood of Sacromonte, home to Romani and Gitano people for many generations (and possibly the birthplace of Flamenco). Here you will find many tucked-away wonders, such as an awesome open-air museum on “gipsy” culture (Museo Cuevas). You can walk these steep streets easily, finding what you will along the way. Just be prepared to have your retinas burned out by the white walls of the houses, and your legs weakened by the climb to the museum if you forgot to eat your lunch (like we did).
Still, Granada is lovely to walk around in Winter. Though much colder than many areas of Spain and definitely chilly at times, I’ve been incredibly comfortable. Considering it’s winter, I’ve felt very cosy with only the lightest dress on. That’s the beauty of Mediterranian Europe though, isn’t it?
Apart from the cultural excursions, most of our time in Granada was spent enjoying food and drink like good little gluttons; in down-to-Earth (even below-Earth) Tapas bars, exotic Arabic tea houses and even hipstery vegan joints. Granada, not exactly huge, is a fantastic place, I found, to just relax and take it slow. Apart from the Alhambra, Sacromonte and maybe some museums, there aren’t too many “must see” sights in Granada. It’s meant to be slowly enjoyed like a good tea and sweet, or a nice vino. Damn, that’s the most cringe-worthy pretentious “travel-blogger” thing I’ve written for a while. Yikes.
Travel Blogging in Spain
I dunno. I’m enjoying my time in Spain so much, but in a deeply personal way that doesn’t really lend itself to public blogging. Just know, I love and respect all you wonderful readers and hope you’re enjoying the ride, but just know that there’s a lot more of the story still to be told in some other way. Hey, maybe buy me a beer and order a tapa and we can talk about it over dinner, sí? Muy bien.
And so I guess I sign off for now, listening to the hostel’s near 48 hour musical tribute to David Bowie still going on. Sevilla, another ridiculously different city, is the next star to follow. Not long now ’til the European trail comes to an end… But there are some of the brightest points on the map still to be arrived at.