Granada, Spain: Siestas, Sangria and Free Tapas

A two hour siesta and a free tapa with every glass of sangria? Yup, Granada is a pretty perfect place for this girl.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy my time in Granada as much as I did. In fact, we even ended up booking an extra night at our hostel! But it also seemed like pretty much all we did was participate in siesta and the free tapas with sangria.

As I’ve noted, we chose where to go in Spain based off of recommendations. I know several friends who studied in Granada and couldn’t put into words their love of the city. So I felt we had to check it out.

Our hostel, White Nest Hostel, was right at the base of El Albaicin, the old part of the city. It was in prime location to “the sights” but this of course also went the most expensive restaurants and shops around us.

We tried to buy tickets to La Alhambra for the next day but unfortunately there was only one ticket left and two of us. We did finally get tickets though. You can read about our tour and see photos here.

It was around 1:30 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten yet that day so we headed for a tapas place the receptionist at our hostel recommended. You got a free tapa with every beer or sangria you ordered but we had had a late night so we stuck with water.

The restaurant, Babel, was a world fusion restaurant. You could get Mexican style tacos, Indian curry dishes, chicken wings and empanadas to name a few. Our first two dishes, Mexican tacos and a queso type dip were amazing (I love cheese so anything with it is to die for to me!), but our next two tapas, vegetable samosas and a chicken curry were not as good. We made a vow to try to get only Spanish-style tapas next time.

Random aside – we saw our Bla Bla Car driver Ana, who had dropped us off about an hour before, at the restaurant. What were the chances that of all the tapas restaurants in Granada, she walked into that one!?

It felt like nothing was every open in Barcelona, Alicante and Granada. You would walk through the streets at 10 a.m. and there would be closed doors and gates over shops. At noon, you’d see Closed signs and pitch black windows. I know that siesta from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. exists in Spain but it just seemed like nothing opened until about 6 p.m.

I was also shocked to see how much Muslim influence there is in Granada. Walking back from lunch, we walked through a Muslim market. It does make sense since Morocco isn’t very far away but this still surprised me since I didn’t see much of it in Barcelona.

After a bit of a nap, we headed out in search of flamenco tickets. Unfortunately, the cheapest one in town (8 Euro for standing or 10 Euro for seats) was full for the night so we ate some more instead!

By this time, the Plaza Nueva and surrounding streets were packed with people. Each restaurant was filled with boisterous conversation and hurried waiters.

We decided on a cool looking Indian restaurant where we felt like we were in a completely different country! Remember when I said we were going to pick somewhere with actual Spanish food? Oops! But Granada has such a heavy influence of Arabic culture, I’m going to say it was a traditional dinner!

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As Mel and I were deciding on what to order, we agreed that we both dislike hummus so we wouldn’t be ordering it. Side note – I’ve never met a girl who doesn’t like hummus! I knew we were a good match.

We ordered Moroccan bread and some falafel to start.

“Hummus?” the waiter asked.

“No!” we exclaimed in unison.

Our falafel came (my first time trying this! It wasn’t bad but I probably wouldn’t order it again) and it was sitting on large piles of what else? Hummus.

We got a bit of a taste since it was touching the bottom of our falafel. Neither of us wanted to admit it but it was actually so good! It didn’t taste like hummus from the grocery store in the States.

The next day we did a free walking tour of the El Albaicin area and the famous caves. Our tour guide was a very charismatic British dude. He gave us a great mix of fun trivia and Spanish history.

A few shots from our tour:

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We also had a quick tour of the caves in the hills of Granada. They are literally houses built into the mountain. It used to be very cheap housing but as they became a tourist attraction, of course they became more of a hot commodity. Today, most families build walls around the outside of their cave so they look like real houses. And unfortunately, we did not get to go in one.

After the walking tour, it was time for more eating! It was about 1:30 p.m. and like the day before, we hadn’t eaten yet. We found a restaurant on a side street near the Muslim markets that had a lot of people milling about so we figured it had to be pretty decent. It also had chicken and bacon croquettes on the menu and my stomach is sold on anything with bacon!

The sangria was the best that I’ve had in Spain. It was so refreshing on the hot day (it’s been at or close to 90 degrees every day in Spain) and the food was delicious as well. And it was finally some Spanish-style food!

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We spent the afternoon people watching and chatting more about the differences between Australia and America. I can’t seem to get enough of this conversation!

Time for siesta again! We need to bring this to the States like ASAP.

We siestaed so long we ended up missing the flamenco show we had booked that night as well as the free flamenco show that was being put on at our hostel. I am determined to find flamenco in Seville!

Our last day in Granada, we did a little souvenir shopping and toured the famous La Alhambra. You can see photos from our visit here.

Overall we didn’t really do MUCH in Granada. But we had a very enjoyable three days of exploring the cobblestone streets and Muslim markets and taking advantage of the free tapas.

On to Seville and San SebastiΓ‘n before heading up to Paris and then Dublin to catch a flight back to New York. Still can’t believe three months has flown by so fast!

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