Granada, Spain

Of all the places in Spain that we visited, Granada has a special place in our hearts. The place that gives you a heart attack.

After arriving by train in the late evening, we stumbled into the medieval streets and without a map, asked the first taxi driver to take us to our hotel. After about 5min, we’d hit quite severe traffic jam where most drivers and passengers had long since abandoned their cars and headed to the nearest cafe for a smoke.

We stared anxiously at the total on the taxi meter which seemed be climbing viciously high. We counted what cash we had between us and decided that as soon as the total hit that amount – we were paying the man and then walking.

And walk we did. The taxi driver was kind enough to give us a some loose directions so we optimistically set off to find our hotel.

Striding very purposely down the dimly lit streets, we pretended that we knew exactly where to go, the luggage skipping merrily behind us on the cobbled roads. By sheer luck (and the fact that later we realised, Granada was actually quite small) we had found our hotel.

We victoriously waltzed into the hotel reception, ready to collapse onto our bed and settle in for a much deserved sleep, but we were thrown another curveball – there were no rooms available in the hotel, our room had been given to someone else. We weren’t into the idea of sharing at this point and not too keen on the idea of sleeping in the stables, but the lady at reception managed to sort out one of the new apartments for us which was only a short walk away. Lemonade from lemons!

As per our protocol, we always send an email out to parents and friends to let them know where we are, but realised we had about 2% of battery left on the laptop. We typed as fast as we could and sent a few emails before the old girl heaved a hefty sigh and switched off.

“No worries” we thought, we’re staying in a fine international establishment, surely they’ll have a plethora of adaptors for our laptop. Turns out they didn’t. In a mixture of charades, pictionary and sign-language, we learned that the “Indian Bazar” might have one. We were in luck (again!) not only did the Indian Bazar have an adaptor that would work (with a bit of force) but they were literally the only shop open on a Sunday because they weren’t Catholic. The adaptor worked (barely) but left singe marks on the carpet. It had to be balanced precariously to keep a steady connection and any sudden movements – it would retort with a grumpy spark filled gargle and a thin stream of smoke.

The next day, I was desperate for a decent cup of coffee (there’s only so much instant a man can take). We found a picturesque cafe in the heart of a courtyard garden, which catered to a handful of patron chess and backgammon players. In my best Spanish, I asked politely if I could please have a cup of coffee to take away…

There was an awkward pause.

It was as tho I’d walked into a Mexican stand-off. The old man serving me looked nervously at the other barista who simply stared back at me. After a lot of charades and diagrams (my Spanish never seemed to improve, but my drawing and sign-language skills did ten-fold) the two old men eventually understood what I was asking for. The coffee part was no problem at all, it’s just that they couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to sit down and enjoy it. Why would you need to take it away? They sure as hell weren’t going to give me one of their beautiful espresso cups, so they reluctantly resorted to pouring the coffee into a cardboard coca-cola cup. Satisfied, I paid the men and walked off, very aware that all the games in the courtyard had stopped and everyone stared curiously. I’m sure when I left, they must have been muttering something like “Hmmf, silly idea… will never take off…”

The best part about Granada was dinner time. As soon as it started getting dark, everyone would pull tables and chairs out into the cozy narrow streets, tapas and sangria would pour out of the restaurants and as the last glimmer of sunlight would sink behind the Alhambra, the alleys would glow with a wash of fairy and candle light.

Date travelled: June 2010

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