Granada, Spain

Hi all!

In the early planning stages of our trip, we decided to head to Granada because of a bull fight that was supposedly showing on the day we arrived and my friend was quite keen to witness it. But closer to the date, we realised the bull fight was the day before we arrived and there were none on the day itself. By then, we had already book the transportation from Barcelona to Granada. We took an early morning flight out to Sevilla before we got onto a bus ride to Granada. The flight out was a superb pain in the ass because of the stupid tax (€49.5/pax) you’ve to pay just to get your boarding pass printed if you fail to do your online check-in prior. The whole system on online check-in is pretty screwed up for Ryanair domestic and international travel. Just plain annoying.

Once in Sevilla, we took the aerobus to head to Sevilla Est. Prado bus terminal. While waiting for our departure bus to Granada, we grabbed lunch at Restaurante El Buen Lunto – Casa Ricardo Gutierrez, which was located just behind the bus terminal. The restaurant served a selection of tapas and the waiter there was so funny in the way he spoke to a pigeon that flew in to shoo it out of the restaurant. We had the Tortilla de Papas (potato omelette), salmorejo andaluz (some type of tomato puree) and Espinacas con Garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas). All of which, alongside the complimentary bread, made for a wonderful and affordable meal. The trees of Sevilla were also decorated with purple blooms that makes the place so beautiful!

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En route to Granada, there were also many sunflower plantations lining the road. So pretty!

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Since the bull fight was no longer a plausible option, we signed up for the night adventure tour organised by Play Granada for €25/pax instead. We then attempted to navigate the city by bus to get to our accommodation on the basis of the extremely vague instructions of the lady tending the tourist information center at the bus station. “Drop off at the building with the large Spanish flag, there’s only one, it’s very easy to see,” she said. But there were so many flags everywhere we didn’t know which stop to drop at. We were literally so far off from the city center before we got down and took the bus back in the return direction. Transportation was so NOT our friend that day. The day was fraught with so many transportation related issues. While waiting for the bus to arrive, we noticed so many of the locals wandering the streets in flamenco-like dresses! They were all absolutely beautiful and dashing, but we wondered what the occasion was on that day.

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Once we settled into the hostel, we took the short walk down to the meeting point at Plaza Nueva for the start of the tour. I would say the tour, while interesting and fairly informative, would require you to have gone through a fair bit of European history prior to understand what was going on. Because Singapore’s education system largely focuses on local and SEA history, I was at an absolutely lost as to what the tour guide was talking about when he made reference to the monarchy in whichever country.

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The tour was fast-paced, and unless the group stops at a pre-decided lookout/photo point, there was no time to grab a snap unless you wish to be stranded behind. The start of the tour involved climbing a fair number of steps as we walked about the Albayzin, which is a labyrinth populated by the Arabs. The white-toned wall that demarcated the narrow street from the house are a classic feature in this maze.

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Here’s a water distribution system used in the past to channel water about the living quarters of the inhabitants.

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From a look-out point in Albayzin was the Alhambra that was warmed up by the setting sun and decorated with beautiful snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.

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I really love the burnt-orange hue and warmth of the Alhambra architecture designed in the mudéjar style, one where western element have been incorporated into muslim designs. It’s just so beautiful in its simplicity.

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Unfortunately, the mosque/church was under construction and its structure was covered by all the scald-folding (no picture).

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From the Albayzin, we moved on to the “illegal” areas of the Sacromonte. I simply  loved how the guide went “others find this route dangerous, but with me here, it’s okay but keep very quiet.” Er…isn’t that such a juxtaposition? Regardless, we climbed up this hill, through the living quarters of the gypsies for a panoramic night view of the city. I’ll admit, I had my hesitation and worries after all the stories I’ve had about gypsies, and this place had a strong resemblance to a scene in DOTS, lol, that freaked me a little. The climb was a little tiring, but manageable…my fatigue was also in part of all the travelling I’ve done since 4 in the morning that day. But the view up there made it all worth it.

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Unfortunately, this was the mild part of the tour. There was an additional segment (no pictures available since I was trying to survive and not fall to my death) that I shall attempt to recount with words. Here is where I came to the firm conclusion: never to go hiking with caucasians! Maybe, it was because my group comprised largely of people at least 170 cm and above, and they looked to be (and were) very fit individuals who frequently hiking back in their home country. The entire hike was so intense and memorable, it’s really a night adventure tour.

So when we started the climb, in absolute darkness, along a supremly narrow (about 70-80 degrees inclined) path covered with shrubs, thorny flowers, I literally wanted to cry for help. The entire non-stop and fast-paced hike for an hour plus, without water breaks mind you, was called a slow and okay one in the eyes of our French tour guide, Canadian and Norwegian tour mates. I wanted to die literally, and I think I almost did with how breathless I got just climbing up the “steps”. Even when I could finally lift my legs high enough to reach the next footing, I simply had no energy to push myself up. I just had to step aside and let the rest move forward while I catch my breath. The path was so narrow and sandy that it’s sometimes hard to get a good footing without slipping. It was scary now that I think about it. I was just too tired and thirsty then to think about anything other then when was the bloody climb gonna end, haha.

The mildest (and possible the most tiring part for the rest) was when we entered the tunnel cave. Because I was short, I could just walk through a majority of the pathway without bending my back, while the rest of the tall peeps had to do so. Of course, me being me, crashed into the bum of the guy who suddenly stopped in front of me to grab a picture in the cave (I was watching my steps), lol. Once we got of the tunnel, it was back down the hill. This time, I lost sight of the front and the back of the group. I had lost the tour guide and the rest of the faster ones some time earlier because I was just slowly and carefully making my way down with my jelly legs. But because the path was still quite clear cut, I was not too worried. That was until I came to a fork road and had absolutely no idea which path to take. Stranded in the darkness on a hilltop, I waited for the group at the back to make their way down as they were stuck trying to find the headlamp my friend dropped on her way down. Fortunately, someone in the group managed to roughly figure the correct route to take and we joined back with the guide.

The last part of the climb was a steep downslope that I decided to just slide down on my butt since I couldn’t give a f anymore. But then my jeans got dirty, and I brilliantly decided to hand wash all my dirty laundry (including those form the day before) at 1am. Worst decision ever. Besides having difficulties trying to hang them, I ended up dropping and re-washing them repeatedly. Good job me. I ended up attempting to use the hair dryer to blow dry my clothes (didn’t really work), which I laid out on the bed until 4.30am before giving up and crashing because I had to wake at 6am that day to get to the bus station. The only thought in my head as I slept – “I’m just going to wash /dry my clothes with a washing machine and dryer the entire trip. Not gonna hand wash them anymore, never”. ‘Twas a tiring day but till the next post, bye!

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