One of my favorite areas in Granada is the Arab quarter called the Albayzin (or Albaicin). The Albayzin is an older neighborhood on a hill that is beside the center of the city. There are cute white houses and narrow winding cobblestone streets. Since all the houses look the same, it´s an easy place to get lost, but somehow I’ve managed not to!
With a bit of a trek, you can see amazing views of the city from different miradores or ¨viewpoints¨. This past weekend I went to El Mirador de San Cristobal. The walk up was quite steep and the stones were bumpy, I was glad I wore some good shoes! The picture above is actually not from San Cristobal, but a secret lookout a local showed me that I´d be lucky if I could ever find again, haha. The picture below with the three random tourists is from San Cristobal though!
Eating in Granada
The Albayzin has a few popular squares or ¨plazas¨ with restaurants and nice patios, perfect for the sunny weather. The most popular plaza is probably Plaza Larga which is nice but I´ve yet to eat there. I´ve only eaten in the Albayzin twice so far and both times were in Plaza Aliatar which has pretty trees with little pink flowers. Also, there´s often street musicians (usually playing flamenco music on the guitar) adding to the ambiance.
In plaza Aliatar I ate some typical Andalusian (the South of Spain is known as Andalusia) dishes. Unfortunately, I can´t remember the name of the first restaurant so I´ll have to check and report back, At this restaurant I tried their gambas al pil-pil which was a spicy garlicky shrimp dish that came sizzling hot to the table. This dish is SO good! I love garlic and this dish is super garlicky. Rosa (my host) & I happily mopped up the oil with our crusty bread. Btw, ¨gambas¨ means ¨shrimps¨ in Spanish. 😉
Weekend Excursions around Granada
My LEH (Language Exchange Homestay) host is really flexible so on some weekends I like to take trips to other cities nearby. On my first weekend trip I went to Malaga which is only about an hour and a half South-West of Granada. Malaga is located on the Costa del Sol – the ¨coast of the sun¨ which runs along the Mediterranean Sea. Aside from its beaches, Malaga´s other claim to fame is that it´s the birthplace of Picasso. I took an inexpensive coach bus from a company called ALSA that travels around Spain. (It´s the same bus company I used for travelling from Madrid to Granada.) I also happened to meet a cool girl named Becky at the bus station and we ended up exploring most of Malaga together.
One of the places I visited during my trip was the Castillo de Gibralfaro, a castle that sits on a high hill. From the top of the castle you can see a great view of the city. It´s a bit of a trek going up but it´s definitely worth it. The castle itself doesn´t offer too much too look at though. Also, if it´s a hot day, I´d recommend bringing a bottle of water for the walk up since there is hardly any shade to cool down in. There´s a convenience store type kiosk at the top of the castle though and a cafe once you´re inside.