Granada - a genuine Andalusian city
Of all the magnificent cities that permeate Spain, perhaps none is as simultaneously fascinating, diverse and historical as Granada. Expect an array of dreadlocked hippies, skinny-jean clad hipsters, religious finders, classical traditionalists and many more mixtures of grand personalities in the city. This is the world's renowned capital of tapas, so enjoy, as an order of cheerful drink gives you a small portion of food on the plate!
We decided to to rent a 3 story house within 5 minutes walking distance from the Alhambra, surrounded by rural cave homes at the steep side of town. We decided to visit Granadafor a number of reasons: La Alhambra, General Life, the neighbouring districts of Albaicin & Sacromonte, the Cathedral, the southern hospitality and the tasty tapas (appetisers). For the adventurers and mountain lovers you can go skiing & trekking in the nearby Sierra Nevada.
The multicultural revival of the city has taken shape that sees Christians and Muslims coexisting in mutual respect. Enjoying the (Catholic) religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets was stunning. Two of the most popular processions were the ´silent procession´: when the narrow streets are unlighted at night and the (costaleros) men & boys carrying the floats are soundless and the ´gypsy procession´ which goes through the Albaicin & Sacramonte quarters.
Thanks to its student population, Granada´s nightlife is vibrant and varied. Many students from all over Europe (mostly Erasmus), Asia, North Africa and the United States make up a third of the city´s population. Once in the city past 9 p.m. I recommend hitting the bars of Calle Elvira or, for a quieter outing, the traditional tea rooms of La Calle de Las Teterias.
While most travellers who go to Granada rush straight to the Alhambra, there is a hidden gem much-less frequented at the Garden of the Martyrs. This park, situated on the grounds of a 19th- century manor house, is located on a hill near Granada’s famous Alhambra. The park boasts some of the best views of the city, and is home to a flock of free-range peacocks that roam the grounds like a local. Like most of the architecture in Granada, the manor house and its fountains blend traditional Spanish architecture with Moorish influences, such as elaborate arches and colourful accents. Visit the park on the weekend and you are sure to see at least one wedding take place.
There is also the “Zaiden”, a hustling and bustling neighbourhood that is home a large community of working class burg, with countless nationalities from Africa, South America and China. The weekly street markets are on the to do list if you are around on a Saturday. Gypsies sell their goods and offer dancing, drinks, and entertainment in a gigantic market square. This is a true experience in Granada, and of the most authentic if you want a taste of the southern city's life.
All in all, our favourite day was walking through the old town of Albaicin, witnessing the beauty of the white town and its traditional artisans in their work shops and ending up eating at Arrayanes, hands down, the best Moroccan restaurant we have experienced outside of Morocco. We had the most delicious sweet chicken and vegetables couscous. A green tea was complementary of the full-bodied meal.
A holiday worth reliving, Granada is lovely any time of the year.
Please find below our selection of 'hip' places to eat, drink and shop in Granada.
Café 4 Gatos for a coffee break on Placeta Cruz Verde nº 6.
Bar Soria in Pza. Trinidad nº 3. It is a small place decorated in traditional style, with walls that combine ceramic Fajalauza and good sausages.
Papaupa is a local retro fusion food place at C/ Molinos nº16.
Bar de Enric at C/ Escuelas nº 8 It is open from 8a.m. to 2a.m.
Provinces at C/ Provincias nº 4, a local classic, make sure you order their specialties; fried fish, rice dishes and (migas) bread crumbs.
"Subterránea" library, Horno de Abad, the best refuge for lovers of comics and music!
Re9 Restauradores is the place to see objects from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s that have been in most homes in those years in Granada. Find it at C/ Verónica de la Magdalena nº 38.
Lycka on Calle Moral de la Magdalena nº 3, is a colours and illusions shop where we can find those little things that make us smile.
La Madriguera shop on Calle Cruz nº 2, is a cute store for fine arts.
Material Revolution shop on Calle Moral de la Magdalena nº 13 is famed for its artsy bits and pieces to collect!