Back to Granada
Ever since Jessica and I knew we’d both be studying abroad in Madrid, we knew we absolutely had to go back to Granada together because of our experience in 2006. We almost weren’t able to because of scheduling conflicts, but we succeeded in visiting together, which was great, because she’s the only person who really understands all the memories we have from that trip.
We took a bus from Sevilla in the morning, but my day didn’t start out fantastically, as I got locked in the bus’s bathroom and got sick along the way. But by the time we arrived in Granada, I was feeling better. We took a city bus from the bus station to the city center, just as we had when we first arrived in 2006, and then hit up Churrería Alhambra, the churro restaurant where we first tried Spanish churros con chocolate on our first trip to Spain. The churrería we normally visit in Madrid, Chocolatería San Gines, is good, but Alhambra blows it out of the water. So amazingly delicious.
Belenes, literally “Bethlehems,” small nativity scenes, are really popular in Spain around Christmas time, and countless booths and shops sell mini houses, trees, baby Jesuses, animals, etc. for families to create their own belén. In the same plaza as Churrería Alhambra, Plaza de Bibrambla, the city had set up a tent with a big, intense belén, so we checked that out. Very cool.
Belén in the Plaza de Bibrambla.
From there, we headed down toward our apartment from 2006, stopping at our favorite internet café along the way and then visiting the Centro Comercial Neptuno, the mall we often visited during siesta time (even though the shops were closed due to siesta) because it was one of the few places in the city with air conditioning. Near the mall is the Parque Federico García Lorca, which we oddly never visited when we lived there, despite its proximity to our apartment. It’s a pretty nice park, and Spanish writer Lorca’s house is there, which is neat to see since we’ve read a lot of Lorca’s works. How was that guy so depressed if he lived in such a beautiful house? Just kidding, his life sucked (though not as much as Horacio Quiroga’s), but he did live in a lovely area.
Next, we went to La Bella y La Bestía, a tapas bar we ate at once before. The typical Granada way of doing tapas is if you buy a drink, usually a caña (beer), you receive free tapas (small snacks of food, including sandwiches, meats, potatoes, etc.), and the more drinks you order, the more tapas you get. Other bars around Spain do it the same way, but it’s much more common in Granada. Definitely an awesome and cheap way to eat. So we had that and then headed into the Albaicín, the Moorish-influenced area in the hills of Granada, where we stopped to take pictures by our old school and visited the Mirador San Nicolás (the lookout overlooking the Alhambra that I talked about in my last Granada entry). Hanging out at the Mirador San Nicolás for a while was very peaceful since it was much less crowded than it had been when I visited it in November. The plaza is always filled with young, Bohemian people selling handmade jewelry and other crafts, and we were very entertained when one shouted, “¡AGUA!” alerting the others the police were coming, prompting everyone to hurriedly pack up their crafts. Kinda cool how they have a system like that, and, not gonna lie, I’d totally love to be a gypsy who spends my days making and selling crafts in that plaza.
From there, we wandered into the Sacromonte, a neighborhood in the hills filled with whitewashed houses and gypsy caves, where we had quite the adventure. As we were walking, a gypsy woman saw us taking pictures and asked if we wanted to look inside her cave. Figuring it was some shop and she’d try to sell us her goods, we agreed to go in. Once in, she forced cans of soda into our hands, had us sit down, and then her friend asked if we wanted palm readings. We said no, but the friend, an old woman, forcibly grabbed Jessica’s hand and gave her a palm reading. We were a little confused by the reading, but I’m pretty sure she told Jessica she would marry and have kids and then a beautiful young woman would fall in love with her. Interesting. She then asked if I wanted a reading, and I said no and was able to resist. We then tried to leave, and the gypsies told us we owed them for the soda and palm readings. The sodas, sure, though three euros for a soda that I didn’t even drink? They wanted to charge us like eight euros for the palm reading, but we refused to pay, I told them they should be ashamed of themselves for stealing (except, ha, my Spanish was pretty terrible back them and being scared made it worse), and then we basically had to make a run for it. So, yeah. We got swindled by gypsies in a gypsy cave in Granada. Scary experience, but kind of awesome in a way. In high school, I used to say if I didn’t get into college I would move to Granada and live as a gypsy in the caves of the Sacromonte, but, eh, maybe I’ll pass now that I know how sketchy they can be.
I paid €3 for store brand soda and all I got was this lousy photo of a gypsy cave.
When we returned from the Sacromonte, I was starting to feel a little sick/feverish again, so that put a damper on the situation. Plus, we were kind of running out of things to do in Granada since it’s a small city. We spent a while going through the tourist shops near the cathedral and then returned to the churrería for more amazingly delicious churros. For dinner, we went to a kebab shop, which was cool since I had actually never had kebab in Spain before (and kebab restaurants are everywhere, especially in Granada), so I felt very Spanish.
We headed back to the bus station a little early, I tried to get some sleep, and then we got on our overnight bus back to Madrid. So, yeah, the end of the Granada trip wasn’t great because I didn’t feel well, and, since then, unfortunately, I’ve associated Granada a bit with being sick, but, overall, it was still really cool to go back to Granada with Jessica, and I still really, really love that city.
More pictures (of Sevilla and Granada) here!