I arrived in Granada via train in the late afternoon. Looking out from my cab, one of the first things I noticed about my surroundings was the change in the colour palette. While architecture in Sevilla often featured bright yellows, pinks and reds on a white background, Granada was painted in softer shades and especially, browns. Every now and then, I caught a glimpse of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada amongst the buildings which created a pleasant hill town atmosphere. A few minutes and a mere €7 fare later, I checked in at my hostel Granada Inn; the “Inn” is a lovely, rectangular low-rise in Andalucían style with a long courtyard and I would definitely recommend it.
After freshening up, I realized that lunch was long overdue and headed into one of the many elegant restaurants on a nearby street. I read through the list of soups on the menu and since trying Gazpacho, I was looking for something thicker when I came across its cousin, Salmorejo.
Simply made with tomatoes, bread, olive oil and garlic, the cold soup is topped with boiled egg—and usually, bits of bacon but I opted out of those—and it’s very creamy. I took my time savouring it and then returned to the hostel to grab a few things but ended up meeting one of my roommates who had just arrived. She was a solo traveller too so we decided to go explore the town together.
We headed down the lively shopping street Calle Reyes Católicos and passed by a few different sites.
The Santa Ana Church in Plaza Nueva.
Soon, we made a left and began walking uphill into the Albaicín. This quaint neighbourhood was one of the main Arab areas of inhabitance and filled with mosques, shops and even a royal court of the Zirid dynasty in the 11th century. Today, parts of it can be a little run-down and might not smell the best because of the dogs but it’s still charming.
We wandered through the narrow alleys and turned corners at whim getting wonderfully lost.
There were other tourists around too along with locals and children laughing and playing.
The homes in the Albaicín, including their entrances, remain quite influenced by the original Moorish style.
I also loved that many had beautifully overgrown plants. The scent from this cármen’s jasmines wafted through the lane.
We then made our way to the Mirador de San Nicolás. Given the hilly setting of old Granada, there are several great viewpoints and this is one is located in the square behind the Church of San Nicolás. I remember walking towards the wall and thinking, “so, this is where the photos of the Alhambra are taken from!” It was like the Mount of Olives all over again.
The weather, those cyprus trees and that Palace. I mean, can you say wow? The view was breathtaking and I had one of those moments which remind you that this is why you travel.
Looking out towards the more modern part of Granada.
Once we had taken in the scene and snapped enough photos, we considered going to the highest Mirador shown on the map but following a couple dónde está, we realized that it was not only much further uphill and confusing to get to but also isolated. So, we abandoned that idea and continued exploring the neighbourhood.
The minaret of a mosque is seen above with a verse written in Kufic script.
As we were strolling around, we stumbled upon a moroccan tetería, i.e. tea house, called As-Sirat in Placeta de la Charca. I am quite glad we found this place because it was beautiful, authentic and well-priced! The decor was lovely and the owner very hospitable.
We took a brief look around and eagerly sat down for some tea at one of the hexagon-shaped tables. I had no idea which one to try so I asked for a recommendation. Within a few minutes, she brought over a flower-based one called Nazari tea which smelt really nice and had a strong, unique taste. We chatted with her over our drinks and listening to her talk about Morocco made me want to visit it even more.
Happily filled with tea, we thanked her for her time and continued our wanderings.
By the time the sun got close to setting, we were famished and decided to stay in the Albaicín for dinner. We chose El Ladrillo II and enjoyed our free tapa as we waited for the paella to arrive.
Paella is a popular Spanish dish which is rice-based and originated in Valencia. There are a few different types but we went for the seafood option or Paella de Mariscos. Given its size, the dish is best shared between two or more people but when ordering, keep in mind that the listed prices are per person and not total. Also, when the Spaniards say seafood, they mean seafood.
The paella included mussels, shrimp, baby squid, fish and clams which were soon drenched in lemon juice.
My friend and I enjoyed the decor along with our food and we liked that the canopy was withdrawn at night so that we finished our meal in the open air. However, our service was only alright and the restaurant seems to get some very mixed reviews online so I am not sure if we just got lucky.
With the rest of our paella packed to go, we headed downhill and to our hostel. We tried to get to bed early but being women, this was easier said then done and it was past midnight by the time we set our alarms to 5am and finally, went to sleep. In a few hours, we were going to the Alhambra!