A Bit About Granada
Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada and located at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It has a much smaller population than Madrid and Barcelona(half a million which includes the urban population) and for this reason it made an interesting contrast after having visited two of Spain’s largest cities.
Where We Stayed and Local Sites
Our hotel in Granada, the Hotel Pilar, located on Plaza Nueva, was very centrally located and close to the Moorish neighborhood of Albaicin (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), cafes, restaurants, the cathedral, the Old Arab Market, shops and banks and the many winding pedestrian walkways which are so interesting to explore. My philosophy is to not be afraid of getting lost in this labyrinth of small streets, as you’re bound to make some interesting discoveries along the way, and you’re never far from the main thoroughfare in the core of the historic area.
One morning I got up early to wander through the Albaicin neighbourhood. It was an interesting experience to see the area come alive with people walking their dogs, school kids going to school, the sound of classical piano music being practised. Experiencing this makes you feel part of the community. A friendly “Buenos Dias” doesn’t hurt either…
Granada is particularly known for its architecture that dates back to the Moorish occupation, especially of the Alhambra, which our group had a guided tour of. I was mesmerized by the detailed and beautiful work of the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a palace and fortress complex.
It was originally constructed in 889 AD as a fortress, then rebuilt in the 13th century by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, who built the current palace and walls. It later became the court for Ferdinand and Isabella, and where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition. The Alhambra is described as having the most important and significant Islamic architecture in Spain.
The Tapas Experience in Granada
Tapas bars are raucous and lively places to visit. One evening in Granada our group did a “Tapas Pub Crawl”. I certainly had an education on how to order in a Tapas Bar, first, make eye contact, and yell out what you want, then to get some free tapas that come with your drink, again, make sure you’re making eye contact with the waiter serving your section, and indicate through finger pointing or whatever means works what kind of tapas you want, then if you want to order more from the menu, step up to the bar and be seen and be heard! It’s no place to be a shrinking violet!
Scenes Around Granada
After several members of our group walked through the Albaicin area, we reached the Mirador San Nicolas lookout point and got a tremendous view of the Alhambra as the sun was starting to set. A big crowd was there to see the view, plus we had flamenco music being played by several guitarists.