This post can only begin by saying: Go to Granada! This small Spanish city is predominantly known for the Alhambra, Spain’s most visited attraction – 9 000 visitors a day apparently! But below this Moorish castle, there is a unique city bubbling away that will surprise and inspire.
On our walking tour, our guide told us about a free flamenco show that was happening that night in a private garden in the ‘old neighbourhood’. All we had to do was walk up to the gates, ring the buzzer and walk in. Despite our apprehension, we decided to give it ago. This is the reason free walking tours are amazing – locals giving you tips like this. Just as our guide said, the big white gates opened up and we found ourselves wondering through a beautifully manicured garden to a small courtyard lined with chairs. Collecting some glasses of wine (and free tapa – more about this below), we took our seats with the Alhambra as our backdrop. It was superb. Surrounded by locals (we were the only foreigners there!) we were treated to a speculator show.
One of the most significant findings in Granada was that the meaning of “tapas” has been completely lost in the Spanish food exchange to the anglosphere. “Tapa” actually means free food, and while we heard many stories of how this came about, our favourite went like this: farm workers coming into the city for lunch found that they could only afford to eat or drink – much like the travellers predicament and like the traveller, they of course chose to drink. By consequence they were far less productive when returning to work in the afternoon. The king sought to rectify this by decreeing that with the purchase of any beverage (alcoholic or not), a portion of food must be served with it. In Australian, we were brought up with the saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, well, in Granada I can say with certainly, there is! No matter where you go, upon purchasing a €2 beer or €2.50 glass of sangria, a delicious plate of food is put before you, to the point where Ben and I did not go out for lunch or dinner most days. The more you drink, the better the tapa. The more the bartender likes you, the better the tapa. I can guarantee you, despite my description, will be blown away by this local custom.
Food was definitely a high point in this diverse city. We had, in our opinion, the best Paella in Spain at La Parrala Paella Bar (Calle Tendillas de Sta. Paula, 6). For some reason TripAdvisor says it is closed, but it certainly is not. The paella is fantastic, made to order – so it takes around 25 minutes to be cooked but is well worth the wait!
We were also quite surprised at the amount of ice-creameries in Granada. The city is not near the ocean but is home to an ice-cream counter on almost every corner. We found out that historically Granada was famous for its ice-cream, made from the ice collected from their nearby mountains. I think after my time in Granada and the amount of Kinder flavoured ice-cream I consumed, I can now be considered an ice-cream connoisseur!