Granada is a foodie’s and a drunk’s heaven! For every drink or refreshment you order at the bar, you receive a tapa for gratis. Historically, when you ordered a drink the bartender would cover it with a plate to avoid flies. Later on, they started putting cheeses and ham and now it has evolved to elaborate tapas: cous-cous with sardines, jamon serrano and manchego cheese on French bread with a plate of olives, fried fish, caldereta (paella de mariscos con caldo), ensalada rusa, tortilla española, albondigas de pollo (meatballs), gazpacho, carne con salsa, patatas alioli, and callos (tripe soup).
Sara and I tapeamos at least 4 to 5 times primarily at Cunini and Bodas Castañedas. Everytime for a mere 10-12 euros we were both tipsy and full. The bar culture in Granada is also worth mentioning. At Cunini, we experienced flirtation between a bartender and a local older lady. She was probably in her 60’s, divorced but full of energy and life. She had gone to Cunini to eat caldereta, which comes with her caña [glass of beer from the tap]. “Toma guapa, esto es pa’ ti” he would say. We also got to experience the grouchiness/playfulness of bartenders. At first you think they’re being rude with you when you order or ask a question, but then they’re making jokes with you and asking: “Como vienes con tantas guapas, comparte!”
Besides the tapas, the beauty about Granada is the relaxed lifestyle locals seem to have, the historic architecture, the Moorish influence in the Albaycin and Sacromonte, and the small callejones that lead to a beautiful plaza full of birds singing. Granada gave Sara and I the opportunity to relax from an early hectic trip. We slept 8-10 hours + siesas in the afternoon, walked a lot and got lost through the callejones, and enjoyed tapas and conversations with locals and foreigners alike. In addition, we finally got to eat a Doner Kebap at Plaza Nueva.
At our hostel we met three upbeat aussies: Lara, Kate and Jane. They had been traveling in coastal Europe for the last 3 months. All of them have a bar job back in Sydney which allowed them to save for this and many other past trips. They had just graduated from “uni” and decided to take the trip. It amazes me how people from other parts of the world travel a lot more than Americans. Kate had already traveled through South East Asia, the US, and Europe (twice) and she’s only 22.
Of course, this story cannot be done without mention of L’Alhambra. Built in the 13th century by Moorish kings, L’Alhambra is an immense palace with meticulously decorated walls, flowing fountains, and lush gardens. Sara and I were lucky to get reservations to the palace since you usually need a week in advance reservations. We spent a whole afternoon walking in the Generalife palace and gardens, the palace of Carlos V, el Alcazaba and the famous Palace of Nazaries.
All and all, Granada was a wonderful experience and I hope other cities treat us as well. We leave the city with a local pastry called cuña (sweet bread with a custard filling covered with chocolate) for the train ride!