I won’t bore you with the facts; that is what Wikipedia is for. Instead, I will enlighten you with the one day I spent walking around Granada and what I came to find and experience having purposefully decided against entering the gates of the infamous Alhambra palace. Now, one day isn’t enough time to properly explore a city I hear you say – what about all of the museums, the tiny maze-like streets and beautiful buildings to walk around? The entire purpose of my day was to step out onto the streets of Granada without any real knowledge of what it had to offer; to set about my day without a map, a guidebook or sense of direction. What did this city have to offer for a stranger with 6 hours to kill and a distinct lack of excitement for the busy streets? I wanted to find out.
Grabbing a map from the conveniently placed Tourist Office, I set off in search of the old town – easily found by the many signposts along the way. As with most places, you know you’re in a tourist spot when you come across rows of shops all competing to sell the same old tat that everybody on holiday seems to love, but this time it had a very Moroccan feel about it. Having spent time in Marrakesh late last year, I recognised the colourful scarves, the smell of the leather shoes and the desperate linger of the shop owner. Was this a more successful money maker, I wondered.
The Cathedral, a focus point in many cities, had to be worth a look so I made my way in its general direction. Narrow, intriguing streets made up of rickety abandoned buildings and colourful graffiti screamed out to be walked – a small and easy step away from the hustle and bustle and something that could be admired almost completely by myself. I briefly looked over my shoulder to witness the streams of people across the border and suddenly felt like I had entered a part of history; the cathedral could wait.
Completely engrossed with my camera, I allowed the approached lady to take my hand, place a sprig of rosemary between my fingers and begin to read my palm. Instantly I knew I had been had and awaited the plea for money; not something I was willing to give to a lady that spoke to me in Spanish for 30 seconds, albeit I admired her persistence.
Food; it wasn’t hard to find but it was hard to resist the fresh cakes, pastries and ice-cream. Taking the opportunity to see a bit of the ‘new town’, I filled my pockets with snacks and found a wall to perch on in the middle of the 10 storey buildings. Was this part of the city in awe of London? The only thing to remind me that I was in fact sat in a Spanish city at this point was the stray dog that had come to say hello. The oblivious passersby suggested this was nothing untoward.
As the afternoon wore on I felt content with sitting some more and watching the world go by. A hazelnut helato kept me company and my perfect timing meant 20 minutes of Flamenco dancing was watched and enjoyed on the street.
Overall thoughts? The old town and its many beautiful buildings provide picture opportunities where as the new town provides the contrast of change over the years. I’m sure if you were to enter the city with a list of to do’s in a day, you would quickly find yourself running out of time, but my ignorance brought with it an unforeseen adventure that kept me contented right up until I stepped back on to that bus. To add to my alien day, almost every person I came into contact with spoke only to me in Spanish; I may not have been able to reply in their native tongue but I thoroughly enjoyed escaping the common assumption that all Europeans speak English, allowing people such as myself to avoid ever having to learn another language.