One of my 10 Goals in 10 months was to travel less this year, in order to save up for South America. Nevertheless I just couldn´t resist a trip to Granada, so before the sweltering heat swamped Andalucia, a friend and I booked a last-minute blabla car and headed down south to the ancient capital of Al-Andalus…
Bright and early we were ready to jump on the metro and find our blabla car at Atocha Train Station. In true MW fashion, we walked 10 minutes in the wrong direction, and managed to be over 30 minutes late for our pick up. Luckily, the young Madrileños weren´t fussed by our mistake (we went to the other Repsol station, in exactly the opposite direction) and we were swiftly on our way out of town for the weekend. This was my first Blabla car experience, and certainly won´t be my last. Our driver was very chatty, and made us feel totally comfortable during the 4 hour journey.
Our first impression of Granada was something along the lines of “hang on a minute, this isn´t pretty at all!”. The outskirts of the city were your standard, concrete, poster covered buildings that must have been constructed sometime during the last 50 years. From the car we couldn´t see any magnificent citadels, narrow cobbled streets or casas blancas. After half an hour of our poor driver struggling to figure out Granada’s car ban in the city centre, we eventually made it into the Albaicin and saw the Granada that everyone had been talking about. We had to dodge a fair amount of animal faeces wedged between the cracks, but otherwise it was charming as hell.
Unpacked and settled, our tummies were grumbling so we went out on the hunt for a hearty meal. My friend and I are not Spanish cuisine’s number 1 fans, but my gosh, the flavours of Granada were a shock to the system. We were in gastronomic heaven! One tapas bar in particular left a fiesta on our lenguas – Babel World Fusion. International tapas dishes that spoiled us with spices, and me with an extensive range of Vegetarian and Vegan options.We were spoiled for choice and hella contenta.
With only two days to explore the city, after our late Moroccan lunch we joined the hostel’s Free Walking Tour of the Albaicin and city centre. Having sat in on 6th grade Spanish history lessons for 6 months, I was excited to learn more about the Arabic south. Our tour Argentinian guide was sweet and informative, and we hit up some local treasures as well as all the major spots. I particularly enjoyed the part where I got to consume local desert – the pionono – because as you can probably tell by now, my trip to Granada was more of a love affair with food than a city break. The tour ended watching the sunset over the Alhambra, with what felt like every other non-Spaniard in the city.
The next morning we got up not very early at all, and decided to check out the gypsy caves at the top of the hill. These were absolute gems, and if I go back to Granada I’ll certainly be signing up to one of the tours around them. Unfortunately we’d already booked afternoon tickets for the Alhambra, so had enough time to reach the toops, let off a fews oos and aahhs and power walk straight back down again. We lunched on falafel, and made the steep climb up hill to the citadel, which was totally worth the leg power! It was paradise on a hill, and for anyone who loves intricate details, it is an absolute must-see. It was one tourist attraction that lived up to its expectations. I’d return to gaze at the ceilings and tile work alone!
That night we went for some tapas and drinks at Poe – a tiny little pub run by an old English bloke and his Brazilian wife. The tapas weren’t enormous, and although nothing on the list was at all British, it felt like a taste from home. Us Brits love to experiment with other cuisines, and their dishes had that home cooked grub feel to it. The bar didn’t feel at all local, but since I’m not a snob when it comes to expat hotspots, that didn’t bother me in the slightest. We had a few drinks and dragged our tired bodies back to the hostel. Unfortunately, no partying was done in Granada, but given how little time we had to see it all, that was probably for the best!
The next mornings we were up to meet our 10am BlaBla Car, and made an awkwardly silent journey back to Madrid.Although I didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with the city, it was a much-needed weekend away that has left me craving more of Andalucia.