Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Exit Musings on Granada

We embarked on an ambitious, if somewhat under calculated, excursion to Granada, spending a total of two days and one night in what was once a stronghold of Muslim Spain, the last area to be conquered in the name of the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella (you may recall these names in relation to Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Inquisition, busy rulers) after 700 years of a Muslim Iberian Peninsula.

Though it has been over 500 years since the fall of Granada to the Catholics, the Islamic influence is very noticeable when wandering down the twisting alleys and streets, intricately patterned tiles still border rounded doorways, and every third wrong turn leads you to yet another charming courtyard, complete with fountains and tiled pomegranates. I don't think we ever ran across the same courtyard twice.

I know I said Barcelona was old, and it is, but Granada is positively ancient. the city has been around since the mid-11th century, and we stayed in the oldest and most difficult to find section of the city. Our cab driver coul.sdn't locate the street our hostel was on, ans we were later informed that, due to the narrow streets with extremely tight turns and steep inclines, cars can't enter such a labyrinth, lest they become wedged between the white-walled buildings.The romantic in me swooned, the sweating, aching traveller with 30 lbs on her back was decidedly less enthralled.

Our hostel was really a converted home, with a spiral staircase leading us from the main porch to the guest balcony and the jaw-dropping view of Granada and Alhambra across the way. Our hostel was shared by an assortment of sweaty, rumpled students from Australia, Sweden and the U.K. who would park themselves directly in the sun during the hottest part of the day, smoking spliffs to the nub, before deciding it was time to go out and drink until dawn.

Granada is almost completely deserted during the day, and the surprised look on the bartender at El Pozo's face when we fell through his door around 2pm told us that we were his first and probably only customers for the day. He poured us icy beers and set out mini pork filets on crusty toast for us to munch on while Robert asked if he had ever heard of anyone by the name of Sarmiento in Granada. He hadn't, but produced a phone book from under the bar so we could take a look. A note about El Pozo: we all love to talk about the various dive bars we may frequent, proud of their impossible locations, and labeling them holes in the wall with a certain relish, but El Pozo is an actual cave, quite literally a hole in the wall.

We befriended a girl from Portland, by way of Iowa, named Brittany and with her, we set off into the night, the promise of mojitos and tapas hanging over our heads like cartoon thought bubbles. And mojitos and tapas we did consume, until we decided that the best way to get lost in Granada or potentially snap an ankle on those treacherous streets was to over imbibe and look for a shortcut at 4am. The next day, Robert and I vowed not to be caught in the midday heat and set off for a stream running along the base of Alhambra, and spent the afternoon reading and napping beneath the fortress and the trees. We had picked up some spiffy harem pants the day before and agreed the healthy breeze around one's crotch was key to surviving the heat, and hope to continue strutting around in enough fabric to make a sail upon our return.

As in Barcelona, the people we have met have all been fantastically friendly, which is hard to get used to at first, at least for this American, but Robert has taken to the culture like a duck to water.


  1. Sister, you're an absolutely amazing writer. I totally appreciate your historically grounded reporting, makes thing super interesting! Have fun over there! :)

  2. In total agreement with Waldo! Your writing is exceptionally descriptive my lovely friend :)

    p.s. I must see these spiffy harem pants when you return!

  3. photos or i will cut you.

    and i too love your writing...chosen vocab...the previous commenters beat me to the punch.