David, Janet and Francis
We were staying only two and a half hours away from this gorgeous city, a truly special spot.  Made all the more fun, to be shown the ropes, or perhaps more correctly the bars,  by Francis and Janet, some wonderful locals.

From Lubrin we had a stunning drive along the old main road, now surpassed by the main coastal highway, through a real variety of desert-like countryside. First was the location of the 'spagetti western' films, and where Clint Eastwood came to fame.  Past the magical cave houses, huge big modern wind turbines, solar panel farms, acres of orange and almond orchards, olive groves and even a small amount of cropping land. Some delightful old rural towns, still that lovely spanish white, usually snuggled closely together on the side of a hill and finally on the last saddle we even encounted a fine layer of newly fallen snow. 

Sierra Nevada's - from Grenada 

Granada is nestled in a basin at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, which were covered in snow and the crisp morning air confirmed they weren't far away.   The Ski Resort is only 32kms from the city, has over 2,5000 hectares of skiable area and is the southern most in Europe, so the  best place to go for sun and snow late in the season.

Its a bit of a tricky city to drive in - lots of one way streets, motor bikes and students on push bikes, always a law unto themselves. The prestigious University of Granada is based here, and caters for about 80,000 students spread over five different campuses. They certainly contribute to the buzz and action within the city both on the road, and the night life.

The city offers a great variety of climate and landscape, is rich in history and culture, but its real wealth is in the stunning Spanish - Muslim art.  Once again I loved the different architecture. Most of the buildings are typically bourgeois in appearance with numerous Renaissance and Baroque buildings and some grand 19th century boulevards.

As the day warmed up people seemed to spill out into the street.   First stop for us was a must have coffee, out in the plaza,  amongst the noisy locals. Their coffee's are often accompanied by a brandy and I'm sure thats what helps raise the noise level.  There's something special about just being in this environment, in the sunshine, enjoying the buzz of the city.

The shoe shiners are touting for work and would do it for a few euros while you enjoy your coffee and women are selling their twigs of rosemary and other herbs.  Children are also filling up the plaza and that adds to the wonderful atmosphere.


Spectacular white marble 

View of Cathedral from the Alhambra
In the centre of the city is the spectacular Cathredral, the second largest cathedral in Spain,   built in the early 16th century, at a time when the Christians were forcing the existing Jews and Muslims to convert.  They were making significant changes to the appearance of the city in an attempt to hide its Muslim character so this was built over the Great Mosque.

Fountain of Lions

Unique example of Muslim art
Lions Palace - 124 columns surround the courtyard

Court of Lions

The Alhambra dominates the whole city and is one of the most visited sites in Spain - they like to credit it as being one of the great architectural sights of Europe.  It didn't disappoint and we were only saddened that we hadn't allowed more time to enjoy the place.  Even at this time of the year its essential to book ahead to make sure you get a ticket at the time you  want.

The Alhambra is an entire walled city within Granada. It is, of course a World heritage site, and is best described as part palace, part fortress and part garden. Originally constructed as a fortress in 889 it was converted to a royal palace in 1332 and was the last Moorish stronghold of Europe. In the late 1400's it became a christians court and their influence was added to it.  But it was in 1870 that that the work of restoring, protecting and caring for the palaces really begun.

The Generalife, translated 'The Garden of Paradise" is the garden area attached to Alhambra.  This became a place of recreation and rest for the Muslim Kings when official life in the Palace got too much for them. It contains some wonderful water features as well.

Back down to the animated centre of the city, although it is siesta time so a little quieter than it was.  There we were introduced to the bars and the 'Tapas culture" for which Granada is also reknown. One of the last spots in Spain where tapas are served Free when you order a drink and with each successive drink you will receive an even more elaborate tapa.  There are a number of streets lined with tapas bars so the trick is to time it right and there's no need to buy a meal!!  Janet and Francis can vouch for this, nothing like first hand knowledge and some fun locals to introduce you to the night life!!!

AuthorDavid and Nicci Cambridge