“Give him alms, woman, for there is nothing sadder in life than being blind in Granada.” – Francisco de Icaza
If you’ve ever been to Granada then you’ll know that this quote is on every piece of pottery they have – it obviously rubbed off on me when I spent two days there recently and I couldn’t agree more. I have decided that if I ever move back to Spain and I can choose anywhere in the country to live, I think Granada would be it. You can spend your summer weekends on the beach and your winter weekends skiing in Sierra Nevada. What more could you ask for? I also have a certain grá* for all things Arabian and Granada has the most perfect mix of all of the wonderful wow-factors I love about Arabic culture and the striking traits of Spanish culture too. On top of all that, there’s just something that will always draw me to Andalucia. It must have been all the summer’s I spent visiting Nerja.
Hattie (my colega this year and my Santiago sidekick) and I made the most of our two days in Granada. So, I’d love to share some of it with you. My favourite thing about this city has to be the fact that the Spanish word granada means pomegranate – and they’ve made the most of it there, with pomegranates spotted throughout the magical city as lampposts and on manholes!
Time travel at the Alhambra
The Alhambra is stunning. There’s so much to see and do there, you can spend an entire day there. We pre-booked our tickets for our visit online here, which I’d highly recommend mostly because everyone recommended it to me but also because I saw the size of the queues which we got to skip (go May-Lou!). These tickets will give you access to the Alhambra itself, the Alcazaba, the Generalife (the gardens) and the other beautiful buildings spotted along the way such as the Mosque Baths.
It’s something that neither the photos nor the description will do justice – it’s something you have to see with your very own eyes. As you all know, I love all things Arabian so this ancient Moorish castle was right down my street.
After a long day up at the Alhambra, we arrived back down to the city into an Easter week procession (couldn’t have asked for anything better!) then we found our Air B’n’B which happened to be a 3 minute walk from Gran Vía (thank you, Nick!), the perfect location! We ventured out in search of more processions and grub. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this previously but one of my favourite things about being an adult is that you can have dessert before dinner and I take full advantage of that liberty! Especially when I’m on my holidays. What better way to start off your evening out than with ice cream? So, having a recommendation from a Granadina friend of mine, Hattie and I went to the best heladería in Granada, Los Italianos. And my goodness was it delicious. They do homemade gelato, it’s cheap and full of locals – so you know it’s good.
Then, we found grub in a lovely authentic Moroccan restaurant on Calle Elvira which is very close to the Cathedral and Gran Vía. The food was to die for, I’d highly recommend and it was the perfect way to end a perfectly long day.
Barter with the vendors in the Alcaiceria
The following morning we got up and got at ’em! We went to the Alcaiceria – I was transported straight back to the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. My favourite thing about Istanbul was the Grand Bazaar and Granada has the most quaint, mini version of it. The vendors were even speaking among themselves in Arabic. I picked up a few bits (I wanted everything!), but mostly I just reveled in the atmosphere.
Also, shout out to this tea vendor who, when I ask if I could photograph the tea, stood and posed with the biggest, cheesiest smile ever and made my day!
Drift, ramble, stroll
I feel as though one of my recommendations for every place I blog about is to wander – this blog is called Imperfectly Free, I suppose! There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful city, but I’d suggest starting near the cathedral and working your way from there. The Alcaiceria is right next door to the cathedral so you can just continue along your merry way. The Cathedral is a sight to behold (unfortunately we couldn’t go in because of the Easter celebrations) and on the other end of the cathedral lay the remains of Isabela and Ferdinand themselves. Around the corner you’ll find the Plaza de Pescadores which is the perfect spot to pick up lunch while watching some ambling buskers (my fave)!
Another huge thank you to Mary-Lou and Nick as well for allowing us to crash their European tour for the Andalucian leg of it!
*grá is the Irish language/Gaeilge word for love