Real change of pace here. Up till now, I’ve been rushing around, churches, galleries, museums and plazas, and pretty much collapsing each night. Granada seems to invite a completely different approach, and I’ve been loving it. It’s a really beautiful city, not so much going on as Barcelona and not many individual attractions, but it has a succession of great views and vistas, plus a really laid-back nightlife (much more my style than further north.So, I’ve been going for leaisurely walks in the morning, then chilling with a view before some tapas in the evening. Have to say, this is my favourite place so far.
Highlights – the view of the Alhambra dominates the skyline and you get a different view from all sorts of angles. But, also the hill of the Albaicin, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the background and the general prettiness of much of the town mean you’re never far from a great view.
I spent about a day and a half wandering around thinking I’d seen the best views around, only to turn a corner and find an even better one.
Other great things – lots of small streets which are either impassable for cars or mean they have to slow right down and wait for pedestrians to get out the way. Completely changes the atmosphere of the city. Not quite to the extent of Venice, but it’s a big plus. The Moorish influence gives it a bit of a different character too. Free tapas. What a great invention.
As for the big attraction, well that is obviously the Alhambra. And very nice it is too, with another assortment of great views. But I don’t think its quite as incredible as is sometimes made out. It must have been magnificent in its pomp, but it was basically abandoned and looted for a couple of centuries and the renovation is still in progress. So, the walls are still impressive, the gardens are lovely but there’s a touch of faded glamour going on.
The Cathedral is also pretty cool. I actually went to a service, which must be the first non wedding or funeral service I’ve been to in years. It was quite intense, with all the ritual, the organ doing the “haunting backround music” thing and all the magnificence of the cathedral. But again it made me wonder what it must have been like in its pomp, full of true believers, rather than a sprinkling of tourists leavening a score of pensioners raging against the dying of the faith.
And no art at all. Well, I did nip into their modern art gallery (mainly to escape from a random rain shower – first clouds I’ve seen since Barcelona, made me rather homesick) but it was pretty much a token effort. Actually it was most notable for the receptionist who was obviously bored out of her mind – I was the only person in there, despite entry being 1 euro – that she spoke almost continuously for 10 minutes while trying to get the ticket machine to work even though I betrayed not a flicker of comprehension throughout.
So photos then:
The Rio Darro runs between the city and the Alhambra. It’s pretty much only a stream now and there’s a really pleasant quick escape from the town just by going down to it, as the river banks block out the noise and bustle almost immediately – and there’s also a great hike out of town that way, coming back in a circle above the Alhambra. Really the Granada local authorities could make a lot more of it, it could be a fantastic green space in a pretty dry city (its Garcia de Lorca park is one of the few disappointments. Doesn’t have to be the full Valencia Jardins del Turia overhaul but at least a footpath? If anyone from Granada is reading this and wants me to do maybe 6 months provisional investigation into it then my rates are very reasonable.