09.11.2009 - 12.11.2009
Once again I arrived at the hostel with a free tapas tour on offer (which would become the theme for pretty much every night here with a slight twist). Here they have a fantastic concept of offering free food anytime you order a drink. Makes tremendous sense when it comes down to it but it does make it hard to ignore the fact that you can go and get food for E1.20 or food and a beer for E1.50. After the first night we realized there were places that would offer up some plain tapas (mini pizzas, hamburgers) and places that would do gourmet (olives, cheeses ect). Upon discovering this we decided to try and few other places and as a result every night pretty much ended with a tapas tour led by myself and another guy. These became quite popular with others resulting in groups of 8-10 people joining us for tapas such as calamari, prawns, curries and BBQ’s over town that we had discovered. We realized after our last night that with another few days we could have made some money out of this. Even as I left I had people coming to me with maps asking for such and such a bar that someone we had taken out had told them about.
Owing to the strong Moorish presence here (the people here lasted about 200 years longer than anywhere else in Spain) it is also quite easy to get a good kebab here. Between the kebab stores, the sheesha bars, and street side merchants some of the little alleys have a very Arabian feel about them.
The next day it was off to take in a walking tour of the alabaicin neighbourhood taking in a very nice view point of the Alhambra (the main attraction here) as well as a few of the city gardens and the market place. The tour also showed off some great view points of the cave houses which the area is particularly known for. Some of the caves are pimped out to the point of having running water and electricity as well. Indeed if you are in the market for a cave house I know a guy who was selling one, a lazy 5 bedroom cavehouse for 80,000 euros (~$A130,000). We also visited the market which exists outsides the town gates meaning that it was tax free and self governed. A fact best shown by the weights that hammered into the city wall as a warning to all merchants that tried to dupe others in their dealings.
Also went on a street art tour of the city taking in some of the most famous street art there. In Granada there is a famous street artist called El Nino who does so quite elaborate spray paint art taking in portraits and depicting certain scenes. There is also a lot of childish art (penis and the like) that after a city wide man hunt were found to be the work of a 65 year old university professor, strangely after that was discovered they let him be and his drawings are seen everywhere.
The Spanish have two great saying involving the Alhambra. The first one states “that if you haven’t visited the Alhambra then you haven’t really lived at all”. The second suggests that as King Boabdil resigned the city to Christian rule he cast a look back at the Alhambra to which his mother replied “You do well to weep like a woman over what you couldn’t defend like a man”. These two sayings give some idea as to its beauty but words do not really describe it. As one of the most significant Moorish castles in Spain it is one of the places that everyone should see if they come to Spain. The Alhambra itself is a spectacular combination of gardens, Moorish architecture, light and water combined to create breath some quite plain from afar but something quite beautiful to walk around. The water features alone, fed by a roman aqueduct such that there is always water a pressure produce lively green gardens and a constant distraction of running water. The only real sad point is that at the moment the fountain of the lions is being restored and the current fountain pales in comparison to what the pictures suggest the courtyard looked like. The other thing that I really liked was the use of smaller arches to create bigger arches which in turn created bigger arches, really quite simple but incredibly effective. It is very easy to see Washington Earving got lost here as he wrote the Tales of the Alhambra living there with gypsies as it was uninhabited.
With one day left in Granada I decided to hike through the valley for a couple of hours to an abandoned monastery that apparently was worth a visit. As has become customary here for me I ended up playing tour guide to a group of people and thankfully It was indeed very cool and worth the hike, having a very strange and creepy feel about it. The monastery is obviously used by homeless people from time to time but is currently empty but remains mostly intact to the point of having to navigate the basement levels used only our camera flash. Definitely worth the visit and something that very few people see in Granada.
Today we went on a nice 2 hour hike through the valleys and away from the city to an abandoned monastery that had a really creepy and disrupted feeling about it. The monastery was a bit odd with soe very new bits and some very old bits but still a very cold feeling especially in the basement and stables areas where we had to navigate only by camera flash. After this it was time to take in one last batch of free tapas with a beer and leave for Valencia in search of the Holy Grail (or atleast a glimpse).