Gran Granada – Great Granada

My weekend in Granada marked my first trip outside of Madrid. We were traveling in a group of 10 so it was almost a miracle that we all made it to the estación de autobuses to catch our 8:00 am bus. The trip lasted cinco horas, but between good conversation, cat naps and admiring the diverse Spanish landscape, time passed quickly.

IMG_5153We arrived by lunchtime and checked into Hostel Dolce Vita. It marked my first time staying in a hostel, which means I am now an official study abroad student. We occupied two rooms. One room was entirely our group and the other, my room, had four of us along with two strangers. An Italian man was our roommate for one night and was replaced by a Argentine woman, but our two night roomie was a character named Bernard – more on him later.

The main event Friday was touring the Alhambra. A palace and fortress built in the late 9th century, the Alhambra is situated high upon a hilltop. The views of Andalucía from the palace were magnificent and were only surpassed by the incredibly detailed Moorish and Spanish arquitectura of the Alhambra itself. I marvelled at the intricate columns, arches, vaulted ceilings and muquarnas.  My favorite parts of the tour were either the reflecting pools and gardens or the plazas lined with scalloped columns.

We started off Day 2 walking through the streets lined with colorful buildings, making our way to the gypsy community of Sacromonte. Janice, Reed, Alden, Alayna and I made a pit stop at a cafe we found along the way. After sitting in a quaint garden patio and nourshing ourselves with tapas y bebidas, we pressed on, but not before taking a selfie, of course.
Gloria recommended Sacromonte to me, a neighborhood in the gitano quarter of Granada that sits on the hills across from the Alhambra. We came upon gypsies and their homes, which are actually cuebas, or caves, carved right into the hillside.  After passing through channels of chain link fences and scrap metal halls of the gypsy neighborhood, we made it to an incredible look out over Granada. To our left were the snow-capped Sierra Nevada montañas, to the right was Andalucía and in front of us was the Alhambra.
We spent the afternoon eating our way through the streets of Granada, stopping in bars and restaurants for meriendas and more tapas. Janice, our resident foodie, recommended we visit Rey Fernando to sample piononos, the local dessert. They were about the size of a large marshmallow and were made of a doughy cylindrical pastry coated in two different kinds of syrup and topped with toasted cream, giving the dessert a sweet and rich flavor. That was not our only stop at Rey Fernando.

In Madrid, none of us are able to cook in a kitchen so we took advantage of the small cocina in Dolce Vita and made ourselves dinner. We prepared chicken, pasta, peas, fajita-style veggies, salad and bread. Our group dined around the hostel’s communal table, enjoying each others’ company and sharing highlights of the weekend thus far.

IMG_5151Once some of our group peeled off, other hostel guests filled their spots. That’s when we learned about Bernard, the kind of person you’re meant to meet in a hostel. Bernard, a 50-something from Oakland, worked as a consultant for many years until he was let go. Though he said he could have argued his dismissal as age discrimination, he realized being fired is the best thing that could have happened since he identified himself as “a cog in the machine, man.” He took the severance and came to Spain to tackle the Camino de Santiago, a pilrgimage through Spain that some say is life-changing and others say is overrated. He plans to complete the trek in 51 days, walking at least 27 kilometers per day. Good luck, Bernard!

The morning of our departure, we enjoyed breakfastOur group walking through Granada - 2/6/15
and one last stroll through town. Though I was there for less than 72 hours, I noted some differences between Madrid and Granada. Granada was más pequeña and a bit sleepier – places closed earlier and opened later. The Granadans seemed more laid-back than the urban Madrileños and their accents differed. It was interesting to me to identify regional differences among Spaniards. I look forward to my future trips to the east (Valencia), west (Extremadura) and hopefully north (Barcelona) of Spain to learn more about the country and its people. What a great first weekend out of Madrid!

5 thoughts on “Gran Granada – Great Granada

  1. Leon says:

    Hóla Kimberly! Dayna and I are enjoying this vicarious ride through España. Our viajera pequeña leaves en Domingo para Argentina. We expect both of you to be perfectly bilingual upon your return. 😉 Los Doyers arrived in Arizona and we may see más cubanos on the roster before too long! Qué locura! Abrazos. Leon
    PS I was very excited to see Nick’s article on the Bleacher Report!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kimberly Ostiller says:

      Hola Señor Victor! Thank you for reading my blog and for your kind note! I am having the best time in Spain and can’t wait to hear about Alana’s aventuras en Buenos Aires. I’m keeping up with Los Doyers and am feeling nostalgic that I won’t be there for the beginning of the season. Hopefully our Boys in Blue do well this year! Please say hola to Grant and Señora Victor for me! Thanks again for commenting!


  2. Dad says:

    Looking good with a glass of sangria in your hand! What a funny blog — I like your comments about Bernard. Just another great experience for you. Also your treks through Sacromonte and El Albayzín must have been amazing. How lucky for you to have seen all that and, of course, Alhambra. I want to go there when we visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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