Advantages beautiful bulidings, great atmosphere...
I have already written several opinions on my experiences in Spain so far, but the time has come to write about my favourite place here, Granada.For those unfamiliar with Spanish Geography, Granada is in Southern Spain, about 70 miles north-east of the Costa del Sol and very close to Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. It is an ancient city and was for many years the capital of Moorish Spain - the Moors being an old Musilm people related to modern Arabs. In fact, until the Christian "reconquest" in 1562, Granada was the last bastion of Islam in the West .
Nowadays, Granada is the most incredible mixture of ancient and modern, Eastern and Western. The city centre boasts some of the most lovely 18th and 19th century Spanish architechture, alongside a substantial Moorish quarter with its exotic arches and of course the magnificent Moorish palace, the Alhambra. Now Granada is a small city (pop. 100,000 I think), but it is easily possible to spend a day wandering the streets and two days in the Alhambra before you've even started to look at the other tourist attractions like the cathedral, churches and the mountains - if you want to visit I would suggest you go for 2 days at least.Granada's most famous monument, the Alhambra is much more than a palace. In fact it is 4 or 5 palaces all set within the most wonderful Arab-style symmetrical gardens. Anyone interested in Art / design will be fascinated for hours by the detailed plasterwork on the walls of the Moorish buildings alone, but there is plenty more to see and like I say, you can easily spend 2 days in the place. If you do go for just one day though, go and buy your tickets early. While there is plenty to see, all tickets have a time-frame for entry to the most famous palaces stamped on them, and this can be as much as 5 hours after you buy the tickets.
The other thing that Granada is famous for is its Tapas. Tapas, as you may know, are small dishes of food - anything from a bit of cheese or omlette to a bowl of steaming stew - which either come free with your first beer in a bar, or which you buy several of and share with your friends. The name literally means "lid", and origianlly tapas were bits of cheese or ham that would be placed over your beer in order to stop the flies getting in!Anyway, in Granada, tapas come free with every drink in almost every bar (except the big venue-bars). Not only that, but they're almost always tasty and substantial - no manky bits of cheese in sight! One word of warning though - despite Granada's strong muslim connections, the vast majority of tapas we were given contained pork. If you are vegetarian/Jewish/Muslim always ask about what tapa (that's tapas in the singular!) you will get - most bar owners are friendly enough to offer an alternative.
The other main reason I love Granada is that the atmosphere in the evenings in Granada is just electric. Alonside all of its culture generally, Granada is a famous university city and the students bring the city alive! There are several big live-music bars where you can hear anything from Flamenco to Jazz, and all over the Moorish quarter are little tea and fruit-juice bars - so something for everyone. Do bear in mind though that the Spanish daily timetable runs later than the British one - many bars won't open till 11pm and there are clubs - apparantly - that don't open till 4am (I'm still on a British timetable really - I flake out well before I can check this out!). If you visit Granada, do saty overnight and do make sure you get a chance to wander round the old town at around 11pm / midnight - you won't believe your eyes!As it happens, we liked Granada so much that we are planning to move there from the Costa del Sol next year. There are a couple of downside though that you should be aware of though: the Albaicin (Moorish quarter) has far more than its fair share of heroin addicts (many of them Northern European crusties for some reason), so watch your belongings in those areas. Parking is almost impossible in the centre unless you have booked a hotel with a car-park: plan ahead, take the train, or park on the outskirts of town and take a taxi to the center. Also, being in the mountains, the city is the hottest in Spian in the summer and very cold in winter. I haven't dared to visit in August yet (see my sun-cream op - I'm not a sun worshipper!) and it's possible the absence of students at this time of year makes it less interesting.
Other than that though, Granada is wonderful and I advise you to visit if you're ver holidaying in Southern Spain.
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