The taxi driver gave us a running commentary about the best places to visit, drink and eat. He dropped us in Plaza Nueva outside Los Diamantes, the current hip place to be seen in Granada, to meet our host. The prices reflected its hipness.
White-washed walls, old timber doors, wrought iron bars, shuttered windows and terracotta tiled roofs rise into the distance. The piso is located in the Albaicin district, the labyrinthine ancient arab quarter built on the side of a very steep hill. Accessible only through narrow cobbled streets. And up steps – several hundred of them (I know – I counted). Followed by further flights of stairs to the second floor of the building.
And then the view of La Alhambra, stretching along the ridge opposite, only 250m away as the crow flies – but at least three times as far to get in, depending on which part you wish to visit. The sun rises at one end and sets at the other, providing an ever changing picture of this fortress-come-palace. In the further distance, the snow covered Sierra Nevada mountains stand sharply against the sky. The location of the piso is fine!
Little alimentacions (corner stores) are dotted around the Albaicin, as are bars and restaurants. But they’re either up hill – or downhill. The nearest supermercado is a good kilometre away, downhill. Which means its a tougher kilometre back, carrying groceries uphill.
Fortunately, the Bar Minotauro is halfway between the piso and the supermercado.
Apart from thousands of tourists, the Albaicin area also attracts assorted ‘alternative lifestyle seekers’ who pester passers-by to sell them leather wrist bands, baubles and beads. Mostly in their 20s, they sport dreadlocks and nose rings, wear baggy, faux middle-eastern style clothing, and have large dogs after whom they do not clean up. As much as one would like to be free to gaze at the old buildings, peek through gates into verdant courtyards, and spy glimpses of interesting things as one walks down a cobbled way – one is not. One has to keep a constant eye out for dog droppings. The newer parts of town, where the locals live, don’t have this problem.