After Madrid, Amanda and I bused to Granada. The landscape in southern Spain felt completely different from northern Spain where I was living. Southern Spain felt more vast and dry with less green covering everything like in Galicia. There were lots of olive groves and vineyards set against rolling hills in the distance. Our hostel in Granada was in the old Moorish district, the Albayzin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let's talk about super hippi, but incredible. First of all, we had to wind up crazy rocky roads on foot with cats darting back and forth in the dark in front of us. We finally found it tucked away and went in. The girl checking us in was super high and before we could even set our backpacks down was offering us drinks. The hostel had a central courtyard (another feature that seemed more common in southern Spain) that had cute tables and chairs, a bar, and a tree house in the middle that had hammocks in it. The doors on the rooms were just little french doors, no locks. Ours had a little balcony that I could pretty much reach out and touch the window of the apartment building in front.
Granada's small winding streets are a charm to stroll and stop in the bars for loads of free tapas that come with each drink purchase, kind of what Granada is heralded for. The culinary scene has unmistakable Moorish influence seen in its very Mediterranean style plates of hummus, olives, gyros, kebabs, etc., and the teterías (tea shops) on every corner. The architecture and decor inside speak blatantly to its past arabic dwellers as well.
We visited the Alhambra, Granada's main site and it met every hope and expectation of what I imagined it to be! The uber detailed attention paid to every inch of patterned surface in the buildings' walls, ceilings, floors, and gardens elicited awe and admiration for such fine craftsmanship.
The fountains that trickled everywhere throughout the palace were my favorite feature. I remembered reading in A Year in the World by Francis Mayes that she speculates the endless sound of water must have been ever-comforting for the arabic desert people. They are also symbolic of the fountains found in Islam's descriptions of its heaven. I don't usually rent audio guides at historical sites, but this time Amanda suggested it and I was so glad she did. The descriptions had old poetry worked into them as people from past ages described the time they had spent in the Alhambra. I definitely Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving to my list after that.
I'm always a sucker for tiles! The glazes on these were so pretty with the subtle changes that looked like water color splotches.
The Alhambra from a distance.
There was a whole section of town with really well done graffiti everywhere.