Granada, Spain – World Heritage sight that must be seen

When Elena mentioned that we’d be staying for a couple of nights in a cave house I didn’t know what to expect. I conjured up thoughts of animal skins, fire pits and finger paintings on the walls.

Our train journey from Cordoba took us as far as Antequera before we were offloaded and waited for several buses to take us the final leg of the trip. The bus from Antequera to Granana takes 1 hour 15 minutes before we find ourselves checking directions on the handy little app “maps.me” that Elena downloaded onto her phone.

We made it to Granada, now we just have to navigate out way across the city on foot to find our place to sleep for tonight. The bus dropped us at the main train station in Granada, here’s the address: Aparcamiento Estación de tren, Av. de Andaluces, 20

Our first stop was to make our way Plaza del Carmen to find la Oficina Municipal de Turismo de Granada, or in English speak, the official tourist office of Granada. It’s here that you’ll get your “Granada Pass” card. With this pass you can get a variety of buses and it also can get you past the queue when you visit the the Alhambra, Spain’s largest tourist attraction.

Of your looking at buying train tickets to travel around Spain then the best website is loco2. An actual Spanish rail company is called Renfe but the website can be very difficult to navigate and not all credit cards are accepted.

Loco2 was launched in 2012 by Engish siblings who were travellers themselves and wanted to simplify the booking process. Once train is booked online and paid, you’ll get train tickets in PDF that you can print at home and take with you.

Jara’s (our cave house host) brother’s restaurant in the foreground and with the ever dominant feature of Granada up on the hill. The mighty Alhambra has stood guard over Grenada for over 800 years. if you plan to stay in the cave house and don’t want to walk up the hill you can take the “C2” bus from Plaza Nueva. The address for the restaurant is: Casa Juanillo, Camino del Sacramonte, 83, 18010 Granada, Spain.

After walking across town and with the temperature getting cooler, hunger started to set in.  We spied a small bar restaurant and noticed some dishes we hadn’t heard of, so when in Spain…. One cerveza later I was washing down prawns and what looked like black rice. It tasted sensational and I kinda wanted more, including another beer. But with Elena keeping me in check, we were soon out the door and making our way to Plaza Nueva to hunt down our bus that would take us to Sacramonte where our cave awaited.

When you’re in Spain you just have to try this dish. Arroz negro is a sort of paella with squid and other shellfish in which the rice is tinted black with squid ink. Wash this down with a local beer and you’re then ready for an afternoon siesta….. Love Spain

Ok, I’m glad I waited for the bus as the road gets steep climbing up to where we’ll be spending the next couple of nights. Once reaching Sacramonte our next goal was to find a small restaurant where we’ll find the key. Sadly when we arrive no one knows anything and our minimal Spanish is not helping us out of the situation. Everyone is confused, finally Jara turns up, she doesn’t speak English either! Etching out pieces of the conversation we finally figure out that there has been a miscalculation on the dates and the room is not prepared for us. It’s a good hour before the room is ready and it’s well worth the wait. I managed to strike up a conversation with Jara’s brother Antonio who emigrated from Playa del Carmen (Mexico). We loved our time in Playa del Carmen from our 2015 trip and to talk to someone who lived there bought back those pangs of wonderlust to get back to the Caribbean.

We booked Jara’s house on AirBnB and it was about AUD87 per night.

Click here to see her listing, it was amazing.

Jara’s cave house was one of the best accomodation experiences in Spain. So tidy, cosy and even had a fire (well a heater that looked like a real fire)

Our cave house was incredible. Entering through the door and stepping down into the white panted grotto had a calming silence that seems to absorb sound. Comfortably appointed with a small kitchen, heating and a TV, once the entry door was closed you were in darkness. Honestly this is the way to live, quiet… once the door is closed it’s so quiet. It’s got us thinking, should we look at real estate here? Granada is captivating and with the mountains in the background there’s a chance of skiing in the winter and it’s only an hours drive to Malaga if you love the beach.

When the Moors build the Alhambra they wanted to create a still water garden in the courtyard, a kind of reflective pool. But once conquered by the Spanish fountains were fitted to most of the ponds…. Except this one. The King admired it’s beauty and left it as it was. I have to agree…. es muy bonita!

Dawn creeps slowly in Sacramonte, and even slower of you’re in complete darkness in a cave. Yet we had to rise early as we had an appointment with the most visited site in Spain, the Alhambra. As this place gets a large volume of tourists we decided to buy the earliest visiting into the castle.

The main things to remember is that you have to enter Nasrid Palaces at a certain time printed on your ticket. If you miss your slot, they won’t let you in. With the exception of Nasrid Palace you can wander through the Alhambra any time.

We tried booking the Alhamba tickets online , but every time we got to the end, it was showing the message “error, try again later”. After checking online , it seemed to be that website does NOT accept any Australian credit or debit cards, so Plan B was to book Granada card which was a bit more expensive at 37 euro per person but also included entry to few attraction and local buses.

I pays to get the Granada Card, as once you get to the Alhambra you’ll discover that the queue to enter is long. With the Granada Card you bypass the main queue and head straight for the counter that issues the multi language audio guide and headphones.

Once you’ve wandered through the gardens of the Alhambra you find that the views over Granada are some of the best in Southern Spain

The Alhambra…I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This place is so beautiful. Built at the end if the Moor’s dominance over Spain, there is a myth that the Moors built the Alhambra so beautiful that the gods were angry and this is why the Moors empire crumbled. All I know is that 800 years ago this would have been the heart of Southern Spain.

Walking through the walled courtyards of the Alhambra. Notice the small water feature in the centre…. Water flows everywhere in the Alhambra palace for cooling, bathing and drinking.

It took most of the day to really appreciate what the Alhambra has to offer, it beauty on the inside is matched by is presence on the outside. Perched high atop the town it’s stood as a silent sentinel over the area for hundreds of years.

Completing the day we headed back to town and caught the C2 bus back up to Sacramonte. We had planned to go to the cave a couple of doors along from us as at 9pm the Flamenco dancers would perform, but as we slipped into the cave exhausted from our day’s outing, all we could hear was the faint tap tap of the stomping of shoes from the dancers late into the evening.

Flamenco dancing originated in these very caves right here in Granada. Consisting of one dancer, a guitar, maybe a box drum and a singer. There was no huge performance as the cave were small and space was minimal. This is traditional Flamenco (now I wished I had gone).

If you think for one minute that you’re going to capture a picture without the hordes of tourists you’re in for a long wait. The Alhambra is one of the top tourist destinations in Spain and thousands visit each year.

Granada…. in one word Grand. It’s a place where cuisine, culture, caves and tourists mash together in a crazy little corner of Spain….. Love you Granada (even bough a t-shirt!)

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