Falling in Love with Grenada, Spain

The Rhythm in Spain is very different. I am getting used to it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is different. It seems to me that Spaniards wake up around noon, eat a light breakfast of bread and ham, and then set about their day. A second meal is eaten around 4 pm, and dinner is at about 9 or 10 pm. Around midnight the bars begin to fill and then somewhere between 4 and 8, one goes home and goes to bed. This is of course, not everyone, but then there is more. If one has business to attend to or errands to run, one must plan to do them either in the morning before noon or in the evening after about 4 pm because la siesta happens from around noon to four and many of the shops simply pull down the sliding metal doors and are closed during the afternoon. I like all of this. The rhythm is different but it must be learned and honestly, it feels more like remembering it than learning it.

In terms of learning, my immersion language crash course is progressing. I can communicate basic things in Spanish now and recognize perhaps 25% of what I hear, maybe less than that. But it is a process and I should remember that it has only been about two weeks and before that, I knew little to no Spanish at all. It is frustrating to want to have a conversation and meet up with words that cannot be overcome.

This sign is in English for some reason and amuses me “Physically Impossible Entry”.

Yesterday I walked along the river on Paseo del Padre Manjion, a tight cobbled street that ultimately led me to the picturesque Barrio Abadia.

Here I found an empty churchyard and sat in the sun reading the book I bought at Alhambra. Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving was written in 1829 when Irving lived in Alhambra. The language describing Granada is as beautiful and true today as it was then nearly 200 years ago.

The chambers of Washington Irving at Alhambra

To the traveller imbued with a feeling for the historical and poetical, the Alhambra of Granada is as much an object of veneration as is the Kaaba or sacred house of Mecca to all true Muslim pilgrims.How many legends and traditions, true and fabulous, how many songs and romances, Spanish and Arabian, of love and war and chivalry are associated with this romantic pile!

From here I walked to the Mirador de San Nicholas where I found more stunning views of Alhambra which were strong enough to affect me alone, but matched with Irvings romantic descriptions of Bandits and Moors, was all the more powerful. At Mirador de San Nicholas there were many people, most of them Spanish hippies and Rastas selling jewelry, hanging out with their dogs, or just enjoying a sunny day with friends. It was a very nice vibe. I am constantly amazed by the number of piercings and dreadlocks here in Granada.

At this point my friend and host Susana called and told me that she and her roommate Neves, were going to be taking a hiking trip to the Sierra Nevada with their friend Fernando and that I was welcome to come along. Since I had been sitting in the sun gazing longingly at these same mountains at Mirador de San Nicholas, the answer was easy.

We met at the big Arch built to celebrate the eviction of the moors from Spain on Callet Elvira (pronounced Albeerah) and loaded up into Fernando’s car. The drive from Granada to the country was interesting. I realize that I am spending a lot of time in urban environments, which I enjoy, but the chance to get into the majestic nature of Spain was fantastic.

There were beautiful waterfalls, narrow arroyos, and even herds of mountain deer that did death defying acts of movement on the rocky cliffs. Fernando had climbing gear, but we started sort of late in the day, so it was simply a very nice hike. Here is a video of some of the deer:
We stopped near the spot we saw the deer and shared a small meal of bread, tomatoes, beer, chorizo, and sweets. Fernando and I had little language in common, but managed to have fairly long conversations that I think conveyed what each of us intended. Neves and Susana translated often. At one point, we discussed forest management in the Yosemite and how human error had led to the destructive fires there…pretty good for a language barrier.We hiked out through dark tunnels and reached Fernando’s car just as it was getting dark.Back in Granada, Susana said that we were going to get one beer and some tapas and then have an early evening since the night before we had maybe gone a bit overboard with vino. At this point I learned that one beer in Spain often means one beer to start. After four tapas bars, we were joined by Susana and Neves nice Greek friend and we continued and had an early night ending at about 3 am. It is amazing the number of people who are out wandering the streets in Spain at 3 in the morning. For most, the night is only getting started.I was easily convinced to extend my stay in Granada. Tonight I will attempt to cook a nice dinner for my new friends and tomorrow there is a Barrio Fiesta with lots of music, dancing, and food… so it is very nice to be able to stay in this magical place.

Please note the smile on the stone post…it is how I feel here.

In terms of being my city of dreams, Granada might even be better than Barcelona. A few examples:

1) In Granada when you buy a drink you get free tapas

2) Granada seems to have no old people

3) Granada is filled with dreadlocks and piercings without the hippier than thou vibe

4) Grenada has beautiful graffiti

I just came in at 4:35 in the morning from a night of carousing with new Spanish friends. I have to write this now or I may not get a chance. We caroused wine bars, flamenco bars, and tapas bars. Then, we started to sit on the street drinking beer. Granada is less sophisticated than Barcelona but also perhaps more free. I am staying with three girls studying art and they are very active in supporting the Palestinians. Mi amiga Susana es uno personne who worked to make human figures from saran wrap and place them in public squares to highlight the atrocities in Gaza.And, here is Alhambra. they say that if you have lived and not seen alhambra you have not lived.Granada is where Spain and Arab culture are married for all eternity. Now I show it to you.


(it’s just a small taste for the rest go to here)I discovered the best kababs in Spain today at Bocarillo de Baraka. Mmmm…

Last night, I stayed in the Pension Olympia. It was a bit like going home. It worked out well I had my best paid lodging yet. Private room, balconey, sink with hot water, extra blankets, heater, and well…it’s just right for me. 20 Euros, cheap by US standards, and I am totally happy with it. I bought a bottle of wine and ate a baguette and cheese while drinking a not too terrible Tempranillo called puerta de alcala.

Home is where I hang my hat

Susana says I should stay here longer than my planned two days and my rubber arm seems to agree…

(IOriginally posted 31 January 2009)


Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

%d bloggers like this: