Morocco to Madrid 20: Granada

Before leaving Malaga this morning, we hit a city institution, Casa Aranda, a place so well known for churros that they ended up taking over the whole street.  And they were… good.  Pretty bare bones, not too expensive, and no-frills tasty.  I guess that’s how they keep the massive treats to a Euro each, and people were ordering plate-fulls of the things.  Nice supplement to a decent breakfast before then.

My back was still tweaking me a little bit, so rather than take the easy-ish walk to the Malaga bus station, we took the more complicated cab ride – lots of street construction in Malaga as we speak, so a short, direct drive ended up being quite circular.  Bus to Granada was nice, though, as I think I accidentally booked us on a “premium express” or something.  We got a bottle of water, a snack cake, and free headphones.

Anyway, the bus dropped us at the Granada bus station, from where walking is not an option – it’s nowhere near anyplace useful in the city, so back in another cab to the new hotel.  After that, an exploration of Granada!

This city is known for two things.  First, its history with Islam and the Moorish culture. Second, its generous amounts of free tapas when drinking.  The goal is to see the important bits of both, with the major Islamic work coming tomorrow, and the tapas coming later in the story.

We arrived in Granada right in the middle of the “siesta”, so most of the tourist sites were closed for a few hours, so we took it upon ourselves to have some delicious shawarma and reload on Euros before making our way to the Capilla Real.  There lay the two Catholic Monarchs laid the groundwork for unifying Spain, started the Spanish Inquisition, and had Colombus cross the ocean blue in 1492.  So one thing worked out well for most, one worked out horribly for most, and the last one did a bit of both.  The chapel is befitting of royalty for sure, though their little, lead coffins under their marble graves do look somewhat unassuming.

Next to the chapel was neat free surprise, the Centro Jose Guerrero, a free art display named after a Granada-born abstract painter.  The order of today was giant murals, and you get a sense of how interesting the Granada Cathedral will be by the odd assortment of shapes seen through a window on the second floor.  There was also a display of the Madrasah of Granada, an old Koranic school that became city hall under the Spanish Monarchs.  2 Euros for that one, but worth it for the beautiful prayer room.

After taking the walk through there, it was on to cathedral number 2 of our trip, the Granada Cathedral.  This one appeared even bigger than the Malaga cathedral and is notable for its intense white walls.  Like, when the sun is coming through the windows, everything looks quite white.  It’s also a mishmash of baroque, renaissance and gothic styles that make for one beautiful building.  We actually partook of the free audio guides inside, and I soon realized why I don’t necessarily like free audio guides.  Maybe we’re a few years away from “Hey Siri, what’s this guy statue of this guy all about”, but I find most audio guides a bit of a drain on the imagination.  Still, free works.

With the walk to Alhambra coming tomorrow morning, we figured that we could get some great overhead views of it.  We walked through the old Muslim quarter, Albayzin, to get up to a couple of miradors that gave us a sense of just what we’re in for tomorrow.  After that, a wander down hill to try and figure out this tapas thing.

See you tomorrow, Alhambra!

Now, as I said before, Granada is known for giving away free tapas with purchase of a drink.  I guess my main concern was that I didn’t want to end up at the one place that didn’t give away free tapas, so I keep looking for a sign that said “free tapas with drink”.  The one place that did have that sign looked like cheap Pirates of the Caribbean den, which Daina laughed at and turned away from the minute we walked in, much to the surprise of the staff (who were not dressed like pirates).  Finally, just hungry, we settled on a spot that had a sangria and tapas deal, which was delicious.  Felt like a glass of wine afterwards, so got one and… there came free tapas!!!

So, I’m guessing from all this, it just happens.  That’s the assumption I’m working on for the rest of the time in Granada.

Tomorrow, then.

We’ll probably have more time to explore the rest of the city after the big sight in the morning, the massive and reportedly beautiful palace of Alhambra.

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