The last weekend in January called us down to Granada, Spain for a friend’s surprise birthday party. This was my first official trip to the south of Spain, so in addition to the excitement of the party, I was so happy to finally be making my way to Andalucía. “Everyone” says that southern Spain is warm with palm trees, amazing seafood, nice people, beaches, and flamenco dancing. However, the end of January (and additionally a rainy weekend) means that it’s actually not warm (the highs were around 45 F)…but Granada lived up to almost every other expectation.
The first thing we did when we arrived (literally the first thing) was meet our friends at a local bar. And the first thing a guiri notices in southern Spanish bars are the legs of ham hanging from the ceiling (they are in Madrid too, but much more here), along with the plastic cups below them to collect dripping fat. But if you can get past that, the bars have a really amazing atmosphere. We went to three or four bars that night, because yanno, that’s how things go in Spain–you go to multiple bars in one night, and rarely remember the exact number.
Funny story, in one of the bars of the night, an older lady almost stole my purse. I didn’t even notice that she had literally just grabbed it off of the chair behind us and wore it out like it was hers. Thankfully one of our friends noticed and pointed out to her that it wasn’t her purse. She seemed to be pretty drunk so it was probably an honest mistake…but really? For those of you who don’t know, my purse is the least fashionable or lady-like purse ever; it looks like something a hiker would wear.
The next day, our friends (who are from Granada) showed us some of the cool spots in the city. We climbed uphill for a while to reach a beautiful overlook.
That night was the birthday party, which was full of great food, drinks, and friendly Spaniards. After the party everyone wanted to go out dancing, which I was unsure of but went anyway because I’ve always wanted to stay out till 6 am and eat churros and chocolate when the sun is coming up. It didn’t really work out that way, but it was quite the experience. We didn’t go to sleep until around 7 am so Sunday morning was spent sleeping. Then we headed out to see the city more and stopped at this amazing mirador during sunset.
We continued wandering around into the night…
The next day, we went to the Alhambra, probably the most famous thing to visit in Granada. It’s an Arabic fortress/palace that dates back to the year 889. Then in the late 1400s, after the reconquista, Catholic kings took it over. Despite going through years of turmoil, changes of ownership, neglect, and vandalism, most of the original design and architecture still remains today. It is constantly going through renovations to keep the original design alive.
After our visit to the Alhambra, we decided it was time to go visit some bars (what else?). This particular bar was really good. Here’s Diego enjoying the squid stew, which I wish I knew how to make at home. Note: this is a tapa, which comes for free with the drink. Dear USA: up your game!
Then, we headed out to visit the San Jeronimo monastery. There’s something about monasteries that really interests me–maybe because it seems so foreign. I suppose we have them in the US, but I’ve never seen one and I doubt they have the same history.
This is a functioning monastery–there are nuns still living there today. We heard them singing in one of the chapels while we were there and it reminded me of the Sound of Music.
That night, we headed home…another trip in the books! But instead of satisfying my “I need to see southern Spain” idea, it just added to it. Now I have to see Córdoba, Sevilla, Málaga, Ronda, and Cádiz. 🙂