Complimentary Tapas and the Alhambra: an enchanting combination
Eventful weekends are not hard to come by while studying in Spain, but this past weekend was particularly full of fun. After spending Friday walking a 22.5-kilometer part of the Christian pilgrimage, el Camino de Santiago, I got a good night’s rest and set off for Granada on Saturday morning with my friend Diana.
After a 3-hour bus ride, we dropped our bags at our hostel and set off to visit was the Cathedral of Granada. General admission is 8 euros but with the student discount we paid 3.50 euros each. Because I study in Sevilla, which has one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world, I was not expecting to be wowed by the cathedral in Granada. Nevertheless, I was; it too is in that category. It is huge with a massive and detailed altar in the central nave. All around the perimeter of the interior of the church are different chapels depicting important stories and figures, all crafted with incredible detail. I especially liked the renaissance style of the cathedral, as the one in Sevilla is medieval.
Next, we entered the Royal Chapel, which is a building next to the Cathedral. No photos are allowed in there. That was even cooler than the Cathedral itself for me because it houses the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella. In it is a staircase that you can descend and view their caskets through a small glass window.
After all of that, Diana and I meandered through the city to the Arab neighborhood called el Albaicín. Granada, in general, has a lot of Arab influence, since it was the last city in Spain to be conquered by the Ferdinand and Isabella. We enjoyed looking at all of the architecture, shops, and restaurants, and stopped to watch a wedding party taking pictures outside a church. They were accompanied by a lively, traditional Spanish band playing celebratory music.
For dinner, we went to a tapas bar called Minotauro, which our professor recommended to us. It was the bomb! At first we forgot that, in Granada, you get a free tapa any time you order a drink at a restaurant. So that was a lovely surprise to kick off the dinner. I couldn’t tell you what that tapa was but, regardless, it was tasty. We ordered a mixed salad, a tapa of Spanish sausage, and a dish of paella, all to share. All of it was delicious and we were happy to have such an authentic Spanish dinner.
After dinner, we went to another bar for a drink, but were too stuffed to eat our complimentary tapa. We decided to call it an early night because the following day we had to be up early to go the Alhambra…!!! (But not before taking an Alhambra night selfie)
The Alhambra was awesome. It is like a city in itself. We were happy that our professor suggested a good way to navigate through it because it has many parts, and it would have been easy to get caught up if we weren’t organized.
The general admission ticket denotes the time you are able to enter the palacios nazaríes, the nazrid palaces, which are a series of palaces with really breathtaking architecture, and the most impressive part of the Alhambra (in my opinion). Then you have the rest of the day to wander through the entire complex as you like.
The palaces were truly incredible. The Real Alcázar in Sevilla intended to copy the palaces, and it was interesting for Diana and I to compare the two sites. The architectural detail was incredible even for me, someone who knows very little about art.
After the palaces we navigated through the Generalife, which is a series of beautiful gardens and an additional palace set apart from the rest of the Alhambra. It also has lookout tower with a great view of the rest of the complex.
Finally, we went to the Alcazaba which is a very cool part with several lookouts over the whole city of Granada. We could see snow covering the tips of the Sierra Nevada – some truly breathtaking views. Unfortunately, I have no pics of that because my phone died right then (I didn’t have the nerve to unplug my hostel-mate’s phone to plug mine in the wall the night before).
Nonetheless, Granada is really a special city. The commercial part reminded me of a slightly more modern version of Sevilla, while the Albaicín and Alhambra maintain the very Moorish feel of the city, resulting from a long history of Muslim rein. Really a site to see!