Spain was a place I had wanted to visit ever since I was a young teenager studying Spanish in school. Our experience in Madrid took some of the wind out of those sails, though. I had heard wonderful things about Galicia so considered a trip up that way. However, we had our housesit coming up, and I wanted to be able to move at a bit of a slower pace through Morocco on our way down.
After treating ourselves to some foods we hadn’t been able to enjoy elsewhere, especially a wonderful Thai restaurant in Madrid, I was quite grateful to be able to transfer money abroad! Technology sure has made travel so much easier. But, I still needed to watch our budget.
In the end we had to decide between Seville and Granada. As the former was quite a bit more expensive for lodging than the latter, the home of the Alhambra, won. I found a great place just outside of town, and we were on our way.
As I stepped off the bus and could smell olive oil, I grinned. People smiled back at me and even offered greetings as they walked by. I felt like this was the Spain I had been hoping to visit.
Tigger needed a chillax day, so our 1st day was spent hanging out in the house. After that I was even more eager to get out and explore! Our host had purchased a bus pass for us which gives you over 50% off the normal bus fare. So got on the bus and headed downtown.
Walking around Granada was an amazing experience. Turning a corner would reveal something wonderful. European cities often have a great blend of ancient and modern, and Granada seems to have even more of its share than some others.
We had so much fun just walking down the narrow streets and discovering new sights. I loved pointing out to Tigger how old some of the buildings were. Coming from the States, a relatively young country when compared to the old world, I never get tired of seeing buildings that are hundreds of years old. I like to imagine what the surrounding area must have been like before the newer structures sprung up.
I found the Sacromonte area, where caves have been turned into homes, restaurants, and other businesses, to be quite interesting, but I think my favorite area would have to be the Albaicin. It thrills with narrow streets and the combination of old Moorish buildings and the “newer” ones built as the Spaniards took hold of the area. The whole area just oozes old world charm.
The crisp fall air somehow added to the whole experience as we walked by the edge of the river that bisects the Albaicin from the hill upon which sits the ancient Moorish fortress and palace known as the Alhambra. The smells of food being prepared in the nearby restaurants joined with the chilly air and the sight of leaves turning yellow below the watchful gaze of the Alhambra.
As we prepared to leave the Albaicin area, we happened upon a tapas bar. We had to go inside! If you aren’t familiar with tapas bars, you order a drink and get a smallish plate of food to go along with it at no additional charge. There is usually a selection of available foods so you can mix things up.
For people who don’t drink alcohol, you’re still set because even ordering a soda comes with food. Some tapas places serve a lot of food, and others a smaller amount. We ended up ordering 3 drinks so had 3 different plates of food. It’s pretty hard for 2 people to eat out, including beverages, for under 6€ in Europe which makes tapas places even more enjoyable!
While I’m sure Seville is as equally enchanting, I’m glad we came to Granada. It made a big enough impression on me that I’d like to return to Spain and explore more of the Andalusian region. And, Barcelona and Galicia still are on my list.
- The bus is relatively cheap and very easy to use. You can get the bono card from the driver. The minimum amount you can recharge with is 5€. When you use the card on the sensor, it will show you the remaining balance. If you use the card again within 45 minutes, you won’t have to pay on the next bus (free transfer). This gives you just over 50% off the normal fare as well. One card can work for the whole group. Just swipe once for each person in the group. Makes it quite handy.
- Because the bus system is so good, don’t be shy about staying at a place outside of town. The areas in the hills around Granada are quite beautiful and give you another view into Spanish culture. We really loved “escaping” the city action.
- There are a surprising amount of fairly inexpensive food places, especially once you get out of the main plaza area. Tapas shops are suitable for children and a great way to save money and to try different foods, esp some kid-pleasing ones. Pizza can often be quite cheap, so if you’re on a tight budget but still want to eat out, check out the pizza restaurants.
- Grocery stores are excellent places to find prepared foods, and groceries overall are quite cheap in Spain. We spent less on groceries in Spain than in many places in Central and South America.
December 18, 2012
That tapas bar sounded spot on. Hope to make it to that neck of the woods sometime. Now even more eager to get there.
December 18, 2012
One thing I DO love about Spain is tapas. OMG!