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Granada: Arabian nights

Posted by daveb on February 12th, 2008

In Granada, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re in another part of the world. Somewhere altogether more exotic. After getting our car unstuck we managed to find somewhere to park-up (a total non-bargain at €20/day…) and set about the city with our packs on our backs. Our hostel was slap-bang in the heart of the Arabian quarter: Cobbled streets, street-sellers pedalling handmade lanterns, bright and colourful textiles, jewellery, incense sticks and flavoured teas from far away places — albeit mostly of Moroccan origin — and scruffy new-age travellers lapping up the atmosphere, complete with pet dogs on bits of string, rolling another cigarette.

After dumping bags in our lovely private room and scoffing a quick bite in one of the local cafes, we joined the hostel-arranged free tour of the Arabic quarter. Except it turned out to be not a tour, but rather a commentary-less march up the steep streets, led by an apparently disgruntled guide, to a view point from which we would experience a far-reaching view of the Alhambra Palace — apparently Spain’s most visited tourist spectacle. It would have been breath-taking, save the fact that the rushed hillclimb had removed us of our breath already.

“Can you tell uz somezing of da histary?” inquired our fellow German hostellee to our guide.
“What can I say. The view says it all, doesn’t it?” sighed our disaffected guide.
“So vos dat da tour, den?”
“Yeah… sorry… it was a bit shit wasn’t it. I’m going back now, I’m sure you can all find your way back to the hostel then.”

Give that man a pay-rise. Not! (As it happens, he claimed that he didn’t get paid to lead the tour. Rather, he was also a traveller that had run out of money and was being offered free accomodation and meals back at the ranch in exchange for changing bedsheets and leading paltry tours…)

The next day we once again turned our hand to culture and spent numerous hours at the Alhambra Palace and accompanying Generalife gardens (“Generalife”; sounds like it should be the name of a insurance company to me). On average, six thousand tourists pass through the Palace each day — didn’t we do well to exclude most of them from our photographs?

After much walking, we wriggled our way back to the Arabian quarter and settled into a Tetoria for a brew (mango for me, Squiffy had mint) and tucked into some vegetable Couscous. And if you were me, a takeaway Falafel kebap on the way home — I find Couscous filling right up until one gets up from his chair.

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