Granada is the perfect dream and fantasy, forever ineffable…
Susan’s alarm nudged her gently awake at 4:30 this morning. We were to catch the 07:14 train to Madrid. Our bags needed packing, the cats needed feeding, and the taxi had to be arranged for. Our brief sojourn in Granada was at an end.
I have to admit, I am immune to the romantic appeal of any city, even a city whose beauty has been celebrated over centuries. Even Granada. Or so I thought.
The crowds we encountered during our first visit to “the Moorish jewel” induced me to swear off ever visiting one more traditional must-see tourist attraction. I’ll be sticking to that commitment when and if the world returns to mass tourism.
Our recent stopover in Granada was an entirely different experience. Due to Covid restrictions, we spent six days in a city devoid of tourists. No tour guides, no crowds. Many hotels were closed. When we walked past the Alhambra entrance, not even a single person stood in the line - a place accustomed to receiving 8,500 visitors daily. The only language we heard on the streets was Spanish.
The quiet, easy-going city we visited for six days in 2021 must be the Granada that inspired so many visitors in the past.
Susan and I strolled arm in arm through the historic district. We lingered over tapas and a glass of wine on sunny plazas. We explored the byways of Sacromonte with friends we’d met during our stay in Mairena. We even popped into a few museums.
We arose early to capture dawn in this beautiful city. We enjoyed Bosques de la Alhambra, the forest park surrounding the Alhambra. We even hiked and picnicked in the hills outside the city, easily accessed by foot from the historic district.
… if there is any greater pleasure in life than visiting Granada… it is going back and visiting it again.
But the best experience of all was the supreme luxury of in-home dining with new friends. That friendship connection made our visit all the more special. I guess the truth is that people make the place. When one makes a real friend somewhere, there’s always a reason to return.
I finally understand what inspired so many writers and artists to linger in Granada. I can honestly say, Granada has a special place in my heart.