Day 212, Friday 03 August 2012 – Granada
It was another slow start to the day, I didn’t have a huge amount planned anyway, a wander around the Albaicin was pretty much it, plus a big breakfast 🙂
I was out the door for 8:45 and was surprised to find the streets of Granada quite deserted.
I was equally surprised to find most of the cafes and restaurants closed as well so finding a place even for a basic breakfast took a few minutes – I had to flag having a big one ! I have noticed that a lot of the shops and food places around the streets near my hotel – in the middle of the tourist zone, are closed. This is not a good sign for the economy of Granada, or Andalucia either.
Le Albaicin sits on the opposite side of the valley over the Darro river from La Alhambra and was where the bulk of the population lived, it is full of old Moorish buildings and steep narrow streets.
I am using a (not Lonely Planet either) guide book and disappointingly the directions to things to visit use street names that are not on the included map – this is simple guys, I mean come on !!! So, I was not where I expected to be almost as soon as I left the main drag, not that the area is that huge, so I just headed up hill until I made it to St Nicholas, built in 1525 it is one of the many many churches in the area. A lot of the churches were founded on the site of mosques, with materials from the mosque used in the construction. The view from the top of the bell tower over the city, LaAlhambra and the Dorra valley was fabbo.
I stopped for a coffee at a cafe behind the church, the coffee was great, but again the service was craptastic. They really do treat tourists with some disdain here which is deeply frustrating given the state of the Spanish economy, especially here in the south. I wanted to buy something to eat as well but if they don’t want my money then I won’t part with it – or maybe it is just me ?
I spent the rest of the morning wandering around the streets, occasionally working out where I was and occasionally running into things I wanted to see. Surprisingly (or not) virtually everything was closed, bizarre – there were tons of tourists around but we couldn’t get into anything, oh well – wandering is what I like anyway. I did love the decorated houses.
The old part of the city was once surrounded by a high wall with gated entry points, a number still remain, randomly appearing in the streets.
The old wall here is supposed to open to the public at some stage, but obviously not yet as it is walled off and virtually unviewable, which was a shame. There are a lot of high walls here, so naturally everything is graffitied, sadly not a lot of street art, just spray bombing. I did find this one stencil, which I also saw in Barcelona which was kinda cool.
The is a huge difference between renovated and un-renovated here. The old quarter is slowly being taken over by professionals and the old houses, some in terrible state of repair are being done up.
I wanted to get up to the hills above the quarter and try to get to the old stone wall, it took a while of randomly walking around the some steep, but always zig sagging streets until I found a narrow path that led up the hill, there was a great view over the wall to Alhambra.
This section of the hill overlooks the Sacromonte, where most of the houses were caves in the hillside. This area was heavily populated by gypsies, many of which have moved on as parts of the Sacromonte have become gentrified, however in the hillside there are still a number of cave dwellings. (Apologies, the sun was so bright and glary, photography was quite tough !)
did you see the doll ? weird…
Further down the hill where there are streets and services the caves have been turned into small homes. A bit like Hobbitton 🙂
I wandered back down the side of the Rio Darro and stopped for a Spanish omelette and beer for lunch at one of the open cafes, not bad and it was great to be able sit down in the shade for a bit. The sun is quite hot, but with low humidity I am not actually bothered by it too much – thanks goodness.
The walk down the Darro Valley is nice, there a lot of old churches – all closed,
But the 11th century Muslim bathhouse Banos Arabes was open for viewing.
I finally reached Plaza Nueva and the church of Santa Ana y San Gil (closed of course) and the end of my planned day.
It was close to 3:00 so timed perfectly for an afternoon nap. Not that I had one, but I did watch Johnny Mnemonic, the old Keanu Reaves movie on my laptop which was almost as good as being as being asleep.
After the movie I went off in search of something to eat for dinner, ended up with the usual and unimaginative pizza , I wanted paella but the place I chose only did it for two people. Sometimes solo is just a pain in the butt ! The pizza was good, but I did not linger.