As a birthday treat to myself I booked a weekend getaway to the gorgeous city of Granada. And it turned out to be one of my absolute favorite cities. The city is framed by snow capped mountains and set in a valley of streams and trees. Unlike some other southern Spanish cities, Granada is bursting at the seams with greenery. This city is definitely for those who are outdoorsy. It offers amazing hikes and climbing. Unfortunately for my short trip, I only explored the city sites and not the grand outdoors. But what wasn’t unfortunate was the astonishing attractions.
Alhambra of Granada
Now talk about impressive. The Alhambra of Granada is a massive complex with two palaces, an alcazaba or palace fortress, a church, expansive gardens and the picteresque Generalife retreat with it’s patios and theater.
Because this site is so sought after, you have to book tickets– timed tickets– months in advanced. Luckily I went in November which is not as popular a tourist time but it was still busy all the same, and tickets were already booked for the Alhambra when I decided to go to Granada the week before. I found a Granada tourist city pass that included a ticket to the Alhambra. It was kind of expensive but being myself I could really get to all the sites in the two days I was there. And I did! The pass might not have been super worth it for me because I can get a student discount for most tickets. But it did save me a lot of hassle.
I arrived in Granada on Thursday night. I was still getting over a cold that cropped up that week so it was an early night for me. I also had timed tickets for the Alhambra at nine in the morning. Google maps estimated that I could walk to the Alhambra in 45 minutes so I decided to walk and get to see a bit of the city on my way. Well, google maps failed to mention that there was a 20 minute walk up a steep hill. I sweated my way up switchbacks of cobble stone paths. It makes sense in retrospect. The Alhambra sits atop a mountain with a sweeping view of the valley below. I just barely made it to the palace (the timed part of my ticket) on time. After getting quite warmed up in the morning cold, my stroll through the palace chilled me quickly. But the beauty is enough to give anyone goosebumps.
And there were cats. For breakfast I ate a pastry I had bought on my way. I sat in the sun and tried to warm up my freezing limbs, plus, I watched the cats roam around and soak in the sun with me. I love this next picture. My crinkled paper enticed him to come over but the flakes of pastry that fell convinced him to stay. And what a dynamic picture. Who can resit that face?
The perfect siesta spot.
I think this proves that I’m a secret crazy cat lady at heart. Being alone, what else was I going to do but spend an hour chasing cats around and snapping pictures. Even though I’m allergic, I am very fond of felines.
Granada is also known for it’s Moorish and Arabic history. The recoquista ended in Granada and as a result Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand are buried there– I saw their tomb in the Royal Chapel (no pictures allowed, plus, that seems a bit insensitive). They became the Catholic monarchs in recognition of their defense of the Catholic fate. Even with this, there is still a great Arabic culture and presence in Granada. I don’t have many pictures but the food, hookah bars, and shops in the Arabic sector were a glimpse into their past splendor.
Monastery of San Jerónimo
Mirador de San Nicolas
Always climb to a vista for sunset. It’s a great rule I have created for myself. Especially when traveling and walking around all day, it’s important to take a break. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Relax. Breath. Be.
The magnificence Alhambra sitting proud.
More hills to hike but the camino del sacromonte that leads to the Sacromonte Abbey was beautiful. The calle follows the valley and, while I walked, I passed restaurants advertising flamenco shows.
I went to Granada to find a bit of autumn. But the blossoming pink vines throughout the city screamed spring.
But despite this I did find fall in Granada. The weather was crisp and the leaves on the trees were turning. I was fighting an oncoming sickness for the whole weekend. That didn’t stop me from walking the curving paths and crooked streets. The fresh air did me good. (And unlike pueblo air, it didn’t smell like farmland.) But I was that girl in the hostel that went to bed at ten every night. I did get to experience a lot of Granada this way, being up and about relatively early.
This was my first solo trip (not in the US that is). Being the hermit of the hostel, I didn’t meet anyone– I tried to keep my sick germs to the vicinity of my bunk bed. I got to know myself and got over the awkwardness of eating alone. It’s not often you are left alone with your thoughts for such an extended period of time. If there is any path to self love– which I think there are many paths– being able to travel alone is one of them. It’s good to push yourself sometimes and be out of your comfort zone. And what better place to travel solo than Granada? It has cats!
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