Whenever we need some city excitement we catch the 9 a.m. bus from Moclin into Granada. We only have a few hours there each time and I find it hard not to head to the Albaicin area. The Albaicin was the Muslim Quarter until 1492 when the Christians took over. It ticks all my boxes.
1 – It is close to where our bus drops us off at Jardines Fuentenueva. Just a quick walk down Avenida de la Constitucion, smelling the roses and admiring the cool buildings.
2 – We enter through the Arch of Elvira. A Mudejar style arch, it always has something new to offer – a different angle of approach, or light changes it’s mood. Mudejar by definition means “Arab who stayed in Spain after it was recaptured by the Christians in the middle ages”. It was once a triumphal gateway to the city.
3 – It is a slow easy ascent along the Cuesta de Alhacarba to the Albaicin area. The cobblestones pockmarked with dog poo, ensure I keep one eye on the ground while enjoying the streetscape. The cobblestones warn of approaching vehicles and we flatten ourselves against the walls, while cars have to back up to let other cars pass.
4 – The amazingly small Plaza Larga appears from nowhere. The first time we discovered it, the tiny plaza was being prepared for the Day of the Crosses on May 3rd. A huge cross covered in red flowers stood in the plaza and grass was being spread on the cobblestones.
In the impossibly narrow Coviran Supermarket, in Plaza Larga, the counter runs down the middle of the store with just enough room for the shopkeeper on one side and a customer on the other. At the back of the store old ladies sit on chairs in front of the glassed meat cabinet, as if watching some strange television soap opera. I guess their legs are just too old to stand while they wait their turn. The fruit and veges clustered in boxes at the entrance, only add to the chaos. These photos were taken on a quiet day later in the week!
On the opposite corner is our favourite coffee bar/shop. If Marty is in luck the pastry cabinet has just been stocked with the fresh daily offerings. If not we pull up a stool at the bar anyway and order a cafe con leche – wonderfully strong and served with a smile, the milk being added at the bar in front of us so we can say when to stop.
Discreetly I watch the old lady seated next to me at the bar, douse her Tostada (halved toasted bread roll) in olive oil, then dunk it in her coffee to soften it. The usual Tostada is served with a mushy tomato pulp on the side for breakfast. In her case however it is served with the inner bread removed and then just the shell toasted.
From here we wander down Panaderos, past the tiny fishmongers where there is just enough room for a handful of customers, and proceed to get lost and found in the maze of lanes.
5 – The Arco de las Pesas leads out of Plaza Larga to Mirador San Nicolas for the picture perfect view of the Alhambra perched on the La Sabika, the hill across the Darro Valley. Lonely Planet issues a warning for pick pockets and bag snatchers in both the Arco and Mirador, so beware. We did not have any problems and did not see any. What we did see was a Tourist Police presence at the Mirador, so this may have alleviated the problem. Do not let this put you off going there as the view is wonderful. Just take precautions and be aware.
6 – All lanes that lead down end up in the touristy atmospheric Calderaria Nueva where we pick up some freshly made flat bread from the Turkish Pasteleria. I fear this bread is not for dieters as it has a greasy compliance about it. Perfect to wrap tuna and salad in for lunch, and even better reheated in a non-stick frypan to accompany curry the next day. When reheated in this way it takes on a crisp flakiness that is divine.
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