We loved Granada. It had more of a relaxed, gypsy-ish vibe to it than some of the other Spanish cities we visited. The old town area, called the Albayzin is heavily influenced by North Africa and many of it’s mudejar roots are evident in the shops, tea houses, etc. We enjoyed the old bridges, the narrow streets, the cathedral, the tapas, the flamenco and the Alhambra of course.
We went in this beautiful lamp shop, where they sell hand-made lamps from Turkey. You can’t even imagine how hot it was in this place. Well, not as hot as the backseat of a taxi driving through the Rif Mountains of Morocco, but pretty toasty. We ended up buying my parents a lamp here and I had to be very careful to get it home in one piece.
Tapas are free here! Yes, free! Just order a drink at a tapas bar and they’ll bring you a free tapa. I love this system, though sometimes we weren’t thrilled with what they brought us. Beggars can’t be choosers though.
At one place, they caught me off guard by bringing whole prawns to the table and based on my expression, she could tell I was confused (because I would never order that) and told me it’s on the house before I even had a chance to open my mouth.
But, next, I’m thinking how on earth am I going to eat these creatures, especially since they are staring at me? I don’t want to offend them and not eat them.
So, I put my big girl pants on and tried to break them open to get the meat out. I really didn’t care for them…the flavor was fishier than the shrimp I usually eat, but I ate them anyway.
I was very proud of myself.
The best pizza in Spain
We also had an amazingly delicious pizza at one of the restaurants near Plaza Nuevo. I think we were tired of eating the same old tapas and so this pizza was heavenly.
However, we managed to offend the waiter when ordering it. I ordered the Serrano Pizza without the Serrano ham. The waiter looked at me with disgust and told me that was the point of the whole pizza and I was ruining it.
We were sick of ham…what can I say? So, I said, ok, I’d like order a pizza with mushrooms, onions and arugula. [The same pizza…just worded differently.] He finally relented.
While we were eating this pizza at an outdoor table on a lively street, a roving flamenco guitar player came by. What’s not to love about this? As he was playing, several people on the street that passed by starting singing along with him and dancing. It was great.
Our best meal of the trip
We had planned to head up to the St. Nicolas Plaza area for a meal one night with the view of the Alhambra at sunset. On our way up to the plaza, we stumbled across a place called Aben Humeya that looked good, so we decided to try it out.
It had a fantastic view, was extremely charming and was very private with not many others dining there. Having read reviews for the restaurants at the plaza where we were going to go, we were expecting mediocre food and large crowds.
This place was such a find! It had the coveted view with a very elegant atmosphere and turned out to be the best meal we had in Spain.
Aside from the fabulous street performers, we also ended up going to the Sacromonte area near our hotel to see a gypsy flamenco show in the caves. This was an experience. While we enjoyed ourselves, this performance was not even in the same realm as the professional show we saw in Sevilla. What we saw in Sevilla were dedicated professionals to their art. What we saw in Granada were gypsies trying to make money. Like I said, we had fun, but it was interesting.
These dancers came in all shapes and sizes. Some that wore completely unflattering clothing. Some middle-aged women with heavy makeup that looked to exemplify the phrase, “rode hard and put away wet.” One older lady who was an absolute pistol…she reminded me of my Mammaw.
We were there with an entire tour bus from Russia. So, it was Russia and us. The little old firecracker lady made a joke about one of the Russians in Spanish and Erick heard her and started laughing. When one of the other dancers realized it and told her, her eyes were like saucers but soon she and Erick were laughing together. They thought the whole group was from Russia and were quite surprised to find 2 Spanish speakers in the bunch.
At the end, a pretty blond dancer, asked me to get up and dance with her. I was a little shell-shocked, but did it any way.
So, as for dancing with a gypsy in a cave. Check! Done that.
We stayed at a beautiful old restored house from the 15th century called Casa Morisca. The location is great — in the Albayzin area and right at the foot of the Alhambra. It’s within walking distance to everything and we had a view of the Alhambra from our room.
We especially loved that our hotel was able to book things for us and provide the tickets. It made things really easy on us. Also, there is free parking here. If you’re gasping in astonishment, trust me, we were as well. Especially since the hotel is located in the historic district.