Flamenco music sounds in the air at the sunset while I drink a beer and chat with a friend who recently started her new life in Spain. This was the beginning of my four days in Granada.
Granada is a small town in the south region of Spain, Andalucía. Although it is close to Malaga (one of the most popular summer holiday locations in Europe) and the despite constant flow of tourists to the Alhambra, Granada keeps her Arab charm. Small streets smelling of Arabic food, old palaces reminiscent of Moroccan architecture, little traffic and tropical plants. Being in Granada is like being in another timeless dimension where you can meet people from all over the world. It is an incredible melting pot for such a small town and the average age is under thirty. Why so many young people are attracted by Granada is easy to see. Sunny weather, tasty and cheap food, thousands of cultural and artistic events and daily jam session, traditional flamenco music being played live in clubs and streets alongside jazz and reggae.
What I want to show you is the side of Granada made of smells and sounds instead of touristic places and souvenirs. Landing from rainy and foggy Manchester to sunny and warm Granada is a wonderful sensation, I immediately feel better. The town is at the same time quiet and lively, traditional and modern.
The Albayzin is the district which exemplifies these paradoxical characteristics best. Its narrow and steep medieval Moorish streets seem to be suspended in time and space where Spanish and Arabic buildings are next to the each other and where the sound of classical guitars mixes with the call of a muezzin. This multitude of streets lead to touristic and airy squares called “miradores” which offer fantastic views of the town thanks to the elevated position of the Alabyzin.
Off the beaten path one of the best “miradores” in Granada is “Los Huertos.” People from all over the town come here to take the sun, to read, to juggle, to do acroyoga or just to observe the lively atmosphere. The day I was in “Los Huertos” was not that crowded as usual because many people went to the “Dragon”, a free festival held near Granada which celebrates alternative culture, music and theater. There was an energetic atmosphere anyway and the opportunity to meet interesting people did not lack. While speaking with a German man playing a South American type of ukulele, I found out that he lives (just like many other people in “Los Huertos”), in “las cuevas”, which are occupied caves refurbished into houses the in Sacromonte district. These peculiar apartments are mainly used by private owners as B&Bs and hotels, however “los gitanos” have recently occupied many abandoned “cuevas”, and they live there despite the government and neighborhood complaints caused by their fear of living next door to strangers.
After a day passed in “Los Huertos”, people stay to admire the sunset before going to listen to live music in one of the town clubs. Every day will pass like this in Granada, because as my friend once told me “People in Granada enjoy music, dance and food, all the beautiful things life can offer”.