Spain: Glorious Granada – The Albaycin and The Alhambra

While visiting Spain, I found myself with two extra days between my visit to Ribera del Duero in the north and Sevilla in the south.  There were so many places that I wanted to go as I hadn’t been to Spain in many many years. Looking at the map, Granada seemed like the perfect place to go for a couple days and it was the best decision I made.

From the moment I got into a taxi at the train station, I began to fall in love with Granada.  It was 10pm at night and the city was alive. People were walking along the streets and the lights were lit up (afterall, it was early December so the holiday season was in full swing).

I had found a room at the Vincii Hotel Albaycin. Centrally located, it was quiet with modern accommodations.  I woke up the next morning and took a run along the jogging trail that is only a couple blocks from the hotel and runs along the river.  After loosening my legs for a long day of walking, eating, drinking and sightseeing, I stopped into the bakery across the street from the hotel for pane e tomato and a café and was then on my way.

As I walked through the streets from my hotel leading to the Albaycin, I made a quick stop in the Bib Rambla at the Gran Café, Granada’s oldest café, for churros y chocolato.

With a full belly, I continued to the Albaycin, the historic Moorish area. I passed through the Paseo de Las Tristes, along the river and then wandered through streets and the up hills.

  

At the top of the Albaycin, you are able to see some of the most magnificent views of the Alhambra and of the city of Granada.

 

After a morning walking around the Albaycin, I walked back down the hill to catch a bus to The Alhambra, a palace and fortress originally constructed as a small fortress in 889, renovated and rebuilt in the mid 11th century by the Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Kingdom of Granada, then converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada and later occupied by Christian Royalty in the 15th century.  I highly recommend making a reservation in advance as tickets sell out. Once you have a ticket, a minimum of 3 hours is needed to wander around. The audio guide was very useful as I strolled through the magnificent structure.

  

After a long day of walking around, stopping for tea at one of the many Tea Houses in the Albaycin is a great idea.  I stopped in the Teteria Nazari, open 2pm to 12am, a cozy, dark Moroccan/Arabic space with couches lined along the walls and ordered a regional tea (marroqui te verde y hiebabuena) and shubakla (a pastry with honey and sesame).

To finish off the day, I wandered over to the Hammam, the Arab bathhouse located just off of the Plaza Nueva, for my 8pm reservation.  The Andalusian architecture and music transports you to another place and time. I relaxed in the hot pool, warm pool and cold pool, as well as the steam room, until it it was time for the massage, accompanied by oil scented with rose, lavender, violet or jasmine. The perfect end to an amazing day in Granada.

Originally posted on Thursday, March 6, 2014 on We Said Go Travel

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