December 30, 2014

Granada: Do Not Fall!

Granada is either steep or slippery, or both. It's also very beautiful, as long as you have your footing! Neither of us fell, but it was because we were duly warned, and thus, extremely careful where we put our feet.

There were three main sections to our time in Granada: our AirBnB host, the Alhambra, and the Arab tea house. Every moment was distinctly different from the rest of our #SwagVil2Spain trip, and we may have started to fall in love.

Our AirBnB Host

Our first stop upon arriving to Granada was to find Fuensanta, our AirBnB host, at her bodeguilla (a little bodega).

La Bodeguilla de Al Aldo: WOW. This was, by far, our most authentic Spanish experience during the entire trip, and one of the coolest experiences of our lives!

We walked up around 10:00pm on a Saturday night, and we could barely get ourselves through the door, it was so packed. When we finally did manage to get inside, a dark-haired lady came down the steps of her two-tiered bar to see what we needed. When I said, "Hola, me llamo Christy," her face lit into a huge smile.

Our communication was limited by my high school level Spanish the entire two days we were there, but Fuensanta is just one of those people who literally loves everybody. She can't help it. She loves to make people happy with her servings of wines and tapas, and she loves to share her beautiful apartment with new people.

Think of the friendliest, most generous, and most fun person you've ever met. Multiply that by 10 to get Fuensanta. Then think of all the cool people a person like Fuensanta attracts, and those were the folks in her bodeguilla. Everyone was having a genuinely wonderful time together, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, being together. The energy was unmatched in the big city cafes of Madrid and Málaga; this was an intimate setting with intimate friends, and we got to be a part of it.

The Alhambra

We took the long way up to the Door of Justice. It was probably the direct route, but it felt like the long way because we walked uphill - er, hiked - the entire 30 minutes. I will say that in addition to the breathlessness associated with rapidly gaining altitude, it was beautiful to see the city of Granada rise with the sun that morning.

The rules of the Alhambra are simple.

"No large bags. No smoking on the grounds. No using a tripod. Do not touch the decorations on the walls. Do not touch or lean on the columns and architectural pillars. Do not touch the plants in the gardens."

Marc and I looked at each other. Check, check, check, no problem, this is easy. Then we read the next rule, illustrated with a slipping cartoon.

"Take care not to fall."

That's a rule?! Yes. Throughout the gardens, instead of a customary "Be careful" or "Take caution" or even a Spanish "Cuidado" sign, the much more imperative command of "Do not fall!" was displayed. So we took care, and we did not fall.

I am going to let the Alhambra speak for itself in the photos (which, of course, still don't do it exact justice). The incredible detail in the tile, rock work, and designs impacted me with a much deeper reverence for the Moorish empire and their dedication to art, beauty, and peace.


The Arab Tea House

Get yourself to "Tea Street" and just browse in and out of the shops and tea houses. The scents and colors of each storefront are inviting and captivating. We chose to sit inside As Sirat, in the dark back space underneath the "loft" above us.

The tea selection was very intriguing and I wanted to try at least ten different tastes before finally settling on mango. Marc drank the flower honey tea to continue to put his cough to rest.

The theme of As Sirat is the Alhambra, and it felt like our own quiet corner inside the grand palace. The tea itself was rich in flavor and deep in warmth, perfect after a long day of winter walks.

Granada can be difficult and expensive to get to, but we lucked out with a rearranged itinerary from Iberia Airlines. It's not really on the way to anywhere, and it's a little bit far to make as a day trip from surrounding cities. Driving a car in Granada is a bad idea because the center is not car-friendly. The Alsa bus is probably the best option, and it's how we went on to Málaga.

Our two nights with only one full day there were not enough, but Granada can be experienced on the surface in two full days easily. If you really love Moorish culture and history, you could fall into the city for much longer. If we ever go back, it will probably be to visit who and what we fell in love with the most: Fuensanta and her bodeguilla!