Our chance to visit Northern Africa was scrubbed mid-October because of Columbus Day. Who knew the Spaniards vacation in Morocco that week? We didn’t. There was not a seat or rail available on the ferry across the Mediterranean. Didn’t see that coming. Nothing available. No Airbnb. No hotel. Not even a campsite in the desert oasis. This was the one line item on Hali’s “Fall Adventure ” we couldn’t check off- camping in the desert with a camel caravan. Imagine the night sky?
Instead, we camped on the southern most beach in Spain, Tarifa, just for a night.
Then, like any good traveler on a flexible schedule, Plan B was implemented.
Granada was not initially part of our Spain itinerary until we were challenged by one of our readers to find our way to a postcard left for us at a local hostel in the heart of Granada. Once we found it, we fell in love with this city. So much so we stayed a week. And although we didn’t get to Morocco, the Albaizín in Granada, with its funky maze of narrow streets, which make up the medina of what was once the Arab neighborhood, became our home.
Most people come to Granada to see the Alhambra. I get it. The Alhambra is surely one of the world’s most magnificent architectural marvels. We spent an entire day here strolling the palaces, gardens, and watery courtyards. We came back in the evening as the day trippers lined up to get on their buses. Though Granada was packed with tourists who come to claim the 6000 tickets sold every day for admission to the Alhambra, the Albaízin is filled with locals celebrating the evening when the tourists leave after sunset.
Exploring Spain’s best old Moorish quarter with its colorful plazas, flowery patios, and shady streets is where I imagine Disney’s Aladdin, the street rat, came from. As Granada has the feel of many other Spanish cities, the Albaizín neighborhood is unique. You can’t say you’ve seen Granada unless you’ve gotten lost in a few of its twisty lanes.
Climb to the San Nicolas church for the best views of the Alhambra. Then wonder the mysterious back streets for some tasty gelato or the spice shops, tea and hookah parlors, and small plazas tucked away between the narrow alleyways.
Probably the single reason we enjoyed this neighborhood so much was that for the price of a room on Airbnb we rented an entire house. We had arranged for a room with shared bath for $35 a night. Turned out, being off-season, we were the only tenants in a three room house. For a week we became locals. Wine in the same plaza. Dinner in the same taberna. Sunset in the same square.
The Albaizín medina is a tight maze-like barrio of the city and a mix of cultural stew. Streets too tight for the smallest tour bus. Zig zag uphill to Granada’s second favorite sight~The sunset over the Alhambra. We did this three nights in a row it was so incredibly awesome, as far as sunsets go.
Mirador de San Nicolás
This plaza shares space with a church, a mosque, and gypsies~a 14th century moniker for hippies. We felt quite at home.
The vibe was so incredibly diverse. Welcoming street artists shared their wares, wine, smiles, and musica. These guys were a cross between Dylan and the Gypsy Kings. Just a small tip and they’d entertain for hours.
It’s obvious why the Alhambra and the hostels are booked up months in advance. This is one cool town.
Thank you Greta for NOT sending that postcard. We would never have found Granada and met Orlandas without your hide-and-seek adventure challenge. Let’s play it again!