Adios, España: Thanks for the memories… and the tapas
May 13 – 16
It’s not you, Granada. It’s us. You’re pretty, you have some great history. We just weren’t ready for you.
Granada and I got off on the wrong foot. My expectations for what to expect from anywhere we went in Spain were so high after Barcelona and Seville. Our afternoon in Ronda was equally impressive.
Then we arrived in Granada.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still things we really liked about Granada. But before I get to those let me to explain why it was still a tier or two below the previous cities.
For us, I think it was just a matter of timing and circumstances. For one, driving around the city to find our hostel was a mistake. Riddled with construction, detours and restricted areas available only for taxis and buses, you can imagine the joy of navigating through the madness with the supposed-to-be-helpful-but-more-confusing-and-annoying GPS that came with our green flash of a rental car. But more than any other reason why Granada didn’t compete with Barcelona or Seville, was our room. The hostel we stayed at was in the right area and was the right price, but the rest left a little bit to be desired (read: windowless). After being spoiled with our apartment rentals in Barcelona and Seville, we came back to reality with one of the more uncomfortable mattresses I’ve slept on, and no A/C or natural light. I know… woe is us. But, that was that
Now for the good stuff.
The fact that the hostel was so cheap allowed us to allocate funds elsewhere, and one of those places we made it rain (about a € 65 drizzle, to be more precise) was a local Arab bath, Hammam al Andalus.
This came on a recommendation from a friend, and it was awesome. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Arab baths, it involves spending a few hours pondering deep thoughts like “Can I possibly be more relaxed than I am right now?” and making tough decisions like “How much longer should I stay in this warm pool before moving to the hot one or the steam room?” or “Which type of oil that I’ve never heard of (or at least don’t understand as the masseuse lists them off) do I want to use for my pre-bath massage?” It was about as stressful as it sounds. Which is to say (again), it was awesome… except for maybe the “that French guy” wearing what may have been women’s spandex shorts which everyone couldn’t avoid seeing due to his affinity for sprawling across the sides of the baths and steam room. That wasn’t as awesome.
Before and after our Hammam experience, we spent plenty of time taking advantages of the FREE TAPAS around town. Yes, free. Just about every bar and restaurant around town gives you 1 or 2 free tapas for every drink you buy. While we’re not talking about five star tapas here, they were free and they got the job done.
When we were in more of a mood to actually purchase our food, we found a great little place that we went to three times in three days (EDITOR’S NOTE: You can imagine whose decision this was.). Two words – Ke. Babking. Or maybe it was Kebab King, I can’t say for sure. I was more focused on the pictures than the words on the menu. These weren’t kebabs on skewers or anything. Just meat, vegetables and sauces I don’t even know the name of that were mixed together in a pita or a tortilla. I’m sure I could Google why they were called kebabs and not just wraps or pitas, but I honestly just didn’t care enough to find out. They were cheap, they were delicious and we ate them. Once a day for three days. And we were not ashamed of that (EDITOR’S NOTE: only one of us was ashamed of this. Again, you can guess whom.).
We filled the rest of our time walking around the city, really enjoying the Albaicin area, which looks like it’s own little version of Ronda with all of the white houses and other structures on the hill. There were great views from there of the rest of the city, including its crown jewel – the Alhambra.
To call the Alhambra a palace and a fortress is accurate (and pretty cool). To call it extravagant is an understatement. As you can see in the pictures, it’s perched on a hill overlooking the city.
The Alhambra was originally constructed way back in 889 as a fortress, but Yusuf I, the Sultan of Granada, converted it into a royal palace in the 14th century. Learning it was once the home of a sultan, we naturally understood that this must have once been the home of Princess Jasmine. While our dedicated search for magic carpets came up empty, we’re pretty sure we felt the magic of the Genie and heard Robin Williams’ voice bellowing off the walls around us. If you don’t get the reference, you’re too young to be reading this blog.
So in the end, Granada wasn’t so bad. It just wasn’t as “up our alley” as Barcelona and Seville were. And if nothing else, it brought us back to reality and tempered our expectations for future destinations in the next year so we won’t have much of a let down.
Seriously though, Granada. It’s not you. It’s us.