20 experiences in Granada
23 September, 2014
By Laura Conde from gastronomistas
If you started to think of reasons to visit Granada, you would probably get, without even trying too hard, about 10,000 in the first minute. This city is Andalucía is comfortably at an age where modernity has arrived but it knows its place. It's a beautiful city where history is read in cobblestoned streets between cold beers and tapas.
Granada has this thing we call duende (a certain magic). It has a neighbourhood, the Albaicín, which rates amongst the most alluring places in the world. It has the Alhambra, kilometres of tapas, wonderful people and an unquestionable, elusive charm.
You won't find the city's special charm anywhere else in the world. In order to put it into words, we could choose one of the famous passages from Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, an Englishman who fell head over heels for Granada as soon as he stepped foot in it. But instead we are going all post-modern and choose a sentence that we heard during our trip that, we believe, captures the essence of Granada's 'love at first sight' quality; 'Granada is the perfect place to escape to with your lover'. And it is. Even if you are monogamous through and through, or one-night stands just aren't your thing, there are a million reasons to visit Granada. Here are the first twenty.
1- The Alhambra. What can one say about this authentic onslaught of the senses? The Alhambra is a thing of beauty, in its purest form, without additives, right in front of your eyes. It speaks of a history, more recent than we think, that bridges two Spains - in other words, a stroll through our past. As there is little say about the Alhambra that hasn't already been written, we humbly offer some practical advise for those that wish to lose themselves amongst its gorgeous mosaics that seem to have stepped out of A Thousand and One Nights: A) Hire a guide. Having someone narrate the thousand year-old history of the Alhambra, and by default the city of Granada itself, is worth its weight in gold. B) Don't book said guide for the for the morning after a night on the town when you visited about 90% of the city's bars and the temperature is 35 degrees in the shade. This can't end well.
Alhambra. Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n.
2- El Mirador de San Nicolás. Always busy, but a must do. Every evening dozens of visitors come to this viewpoint to see (and photograph) the sun setting over the Alhambra. It's spectacular show of light, colour and incomparable beauty.
Mirador de San Nicolás. San Nicolás, s/n.
3-El Albaicín. The Mirador de San Nicolás is situated in El Albaicín, the old Jewish neighbourhood. It's still a maze of curving cobblestoned streets, hidden taverns and flamenco tablaos, shops and restaurants. There is only one way to see it - by getting lost (and leaving your watch at the hotel).
4- Remojón. This orange and cod salad is one of the star dishes around these parts, and made us fall in love with local oranges. Gazpacho aside, it was the perfect starter course on our holiday and ideal for the hot temperatures. Pictured is a plate of remojón we ate at a gorgeous place called the Mirador de Morayma; a restaurant with enticing views of the Alhambra. It's quite touristy, so perhaps not entirely suitable for intrepid travellers wanting a more authentic experience.
Mirador de Morayma. Pianista García Carrillo, 2.
5- Damasqueros. One of our favourite restaurants in the city is located in a street of the same name. Chef Lola Marín's creative cuisine has its roots in Andalucía and can only be enjoyed through a tasting menu (39 €) – an experience that proved to us that, thankfully, Granada is about more than tapas and sherry.
Damasqueros. Damasqueros, 3.
6-Estrellas de San Nicolás. Once the home of the flamenco legend Enrique Morente and now one of the most popular restaurants in the city, especially for visitors. The reason? A charming space with an attractive terrace from where you can watch the sunset over the Alhambra. Not to mention a menu that offers gazpacho and fondues or where traditional Andalucian dishes co-reside with international ones. The glass-enclosed dining room defines charm and good taste, but a table on the terrace is ringside to live flamenco guitar.
Estrellas de San Nicolás. Atarazana Vieja, 1.
7- The Tapas. In Granada, if you ask for a small beer at noon (only in order to get through the afternoon and avoid an attack of Stendhal syndrome of course!) the bartender will give you a plate of 'tapas'. Or at least what he (and perhaps your mother) considers 'tapas' – for us it's more akin to a full serving of paella or lamb stew with chips. This will cost you all of 2€. So, if you are the moderate type, this will suffice for lunch. If not, you will barely need a third round.
8- The Calle Navas and its surroundings. The tapas epicentre of Granada is situated on the Calle Navas – the main drag – but also the surrounding streets. It's always buzzing with groups of people of all ages enjoying tapas, wine and beer. It the place to socialise, make new friends and who knows? Perhaps be enticed to party until dawn in a mythical spot that everyone talks about and you should visit if it's the last thing you do. Here’s the deal: As you mingle, someone is bound to say, 'You have to go to Maué' or 'You haven't been to Maué' yet?'. More details below...
9- Hens' and Bachelor Parties. How on earth can you not go to Maué when the person that is telling you to is a bearded, 90-kilogram guy wearing a Playboy bunny costume? Or a group of school friends dressed up as nurses? Granada is a paradise for Bachelor and Hens’ nights; every weekend it hosts dozens of groups celebrating the 'last night of freedom'. On the weekends they tend to conglomerate around the Calle Navas to eat, drink, bond and of course, give you a hard time for having never been to Maué. Take a prime seat on a terrace and watch them pass by. It's pure comedy, and worth the trip to Granada alone.
10- Castañeda. On and around Calle Elvira, another epicentre of tapas and shopping (mostly tiny places selling Arabic objects), Castañeda is a much-loved, always bustling establishment that has jamón legs and chorizos hanging from the ceiling, a bull's head on the wall and some incredible tapas.
Castañeda. Almireceros, 1-3.
11- Cannelle. Looking for a healthy breakfast? With homemade cakes, special menus, magazine and books? A place that is totally child-friendly? Cannelle is such a place; a cafe that could easily be in London or Paris, full of good vibes and a good time.
Cannelle. Acera del Darro, 44.
12- Ganivet. A bastion of Granada's nightlife, this central bar-club, situated below stone arches, has two cave-like rooms; one blasting out commercial hits and the other Spanish pop. Always packed with thirty-something patrons, it has a good, clean vibe and great drinks.
Ganivet. Ángel Ganivet, 13.
13- Bambino. Mainstream flamenco where the age of the clientele is considerably lower than that of Ganivet's. Bambino is deliciously unpredictable, very curious, at times explosive and others about as lively as a funeral. But how can you come to Granada and not dance to Navajita Plateá in a disco?
Bambino. Arabial, 45.
14- Mondrian. If you feel like some rock and roll then look no further. Situated in a lovely, cobblestoned lane, it is different to other bars such as Ganivet in so much as its full of messy-haired patrons wearing un-ironed shirts and sports shoes. In fact, you get the feeling that a guy in a black leather jacket and boots will appear at the door at any moment. He will take a seat at the bar, order a Voll-Damm beer, turn around and look at you with a tortured face and at that precise moment you will realise it is rockero Miguel Ríos. The mojitos are excellent.
Mondrian. Santa Inés, 4.
15- Mae West. Mega-club of the first order that is open until 6am. From 3am onwards, after the bars have closed, every nighthawk in Granada, ascends this temple of commercial hits and heavy drinking where time stands still. It's a strange place that brings together people of all ages until well into the early hours after an intense evening of Bachelor and Hens' party observation and other prankish behaviour. Be assured: Mae West is the closest rival in Granada to Maué. A legend.
Mae West. Centro Comercial Neptuno. Arabial, s/n.
16- Aliatar. This is a major club with disco music, a more mature crowd and bar that serves gin and tonics to discerning clients. It's a place you can go to at any time to enjoy and well-prepared drink (the cocktails are made with expert hands). Park your bag and jacket on top of the grand piano in the centre of the dance floor and let loose to 'Lady Marmalade'. A classic.
Aliatar. Recogidas, 2.
17- Tablao flamenco Albayzin.
Choosing a tablao should be as simple as wandering around the Albaicín, following your nose (and heart) and letting yourself be seduced by the emotions that local flamenco brings. Actually we came across this one on the advice of our hotel, who organise package deals that include transport, supper and show. That way, we were able to experience it at a good price.
Tablao Flamenco Albayzin. Carretera de Murcia s/n.
18- La lonja. Leaving food aside for the moment, it would be remiss not to recommend this singular shop. Somewhere between shabby and cool (but always in good taste) it sells all sorts of vintage pieces, from furniture to objects.
La lonja. Buensuceso, 31.
19- The warmth of its people. It's not a cliché for nothing: they couldn't be nicer.
20- Your lover? If you have one they are as a good reason as any to visit Granada. If not you can always (like we did) take full advantage of the city's bars. After three days, you will have no idea where your hotel is but will be on first name terms with all the porters. Or did you think that a killer hangover and passing out halfway through our 'Alhambra morning' was pure poetic license?
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!
23 September, 2014