June 26, 2011

Granada city and the Albaicin

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If you are visiting Southern Spain, the wonderful, inspiring and once-in-a-lifetime experience that is a visit to Granada’s glistening jewel, the Alhambra Palace, MUST be on your list!  And much, much more besides in this fascinating and ancient city.

But it takes a half a day to see the Alhambra, and the Generalife gardens cannot be rushed either! So take ANOTHER day if you can, to see the city.  But within the heaving mass of this large, sprawling city with its wide avenues, open plazas and dramatic cathedral, hides another treasure, as precious as the Alhambra itself – and what I can only describe as a country village within a city: the Albaicin!

From the Avenida de Colón, head up the narrow streets, uphill all the way, and keep going UP!! The higher you climb the more you will discover of this beautiful area, once pure gypsy quarters, famous for its flamenco and the gypsy caves. When you walk through the spectacular plazas, past fountains and shady palm trees, cool tile-cad bars with inner patios and SO MANY tables and chairs under parasols, look around you and see the people and drink in the atmosphere. You completely forget that you are in a big city. You are in an Andalusian country village, where everyone knows each other and children play on the streets, and there is an amazingly wonderful lack of vehicles!

You will find many bars and restaurants in the pretty squares, where you can sit outside and lap up the sunlight, the intense contrast of sun and shade, the deep green of the exotic trees and the stunning colours of flowers as they cascade over patio walls. Try also the restaurants and bars along the hillside facing the Alhambra Palace, perched on the hill next door; the views at these restaurants are spectacular, of the palace, against the background of the Sierra Nevada (white and glistening with snow in Winter up until late April) and the immense flat valley swallowing up the modern city below – but be warned – you pay to dine with that view, and it’s not necessarily the best food either! My advice is just to have a cool drink at one of those places, and eat at one of the more reasonably priced restaurants on one of the many squares.

Take water and good shoes, you will be surprised how much walking you will do, just in the Albacin! And you haven’t even TOUCHED the city below, which also has much to offer!

To visit the Alhambra, you often need to book well in advance.  If you book with us, let us know your intentions and we can make your reservation for you.

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