Granada, Spain

I took the morning train to Granada and found these four hours much more pleasant and easy than plane: my window seat was much roomier and I was able to stow my large suitcase without too much trouble – the same could not be said for those who boarded at later stops.

Upon arrival at the hostel I tried to go on the 3pm caves and graffiti walking tour but being the only interested participant it did not go ahead. I then walked to the Alhambra and spent a couple of hours walking around taking photographs of this majestic, ancient castle complex. I did the audio tour, which provided some interesting info on some sites and artworks. I didn’t realise you’re meant to book ahead but even at 4pm I managed to buy a ticket on the spot – although to everywhere but the royal palace. The people with reserved tickets also had to queue to collect theirs, and their line wasn´t really moving any slower. I am sure it would be worse on a weekend or during summer, though.

Back at the hostel I joined other travellers in the terrace before the paella night at 9pm, when for 5 euros we were treated to a huge plate of paella and another plate of salad. We continued to hang around in the courtyard until midnight – I was forcing myself to stay awake to beat the jet lag – only to discover that the pub crawl I had signed up for also did not have enough people and so did not go ahead! Eventually some of the organisers took the couple of us that had wanted to go to a popular Spanish bar, but I only stayed a bit and went back with the American girl who was also tired.

Some of the Irish lads working at the hostel had invited everyone on a day trip to trek around and see a waterfall, assuring me that this would be better than going on the other two organised walking tours. Knowing that neither went ahead the previous day due to lack of numbers, I decided to join them – as did many of us. This meant meeting at 11.15am and declining the 11am walking tour, which did actually have enough to go ahead. Shortly afterwards, one of the Irish organisers lazily informed us that due to weather (it’s cooler today) the waterfall tour was off.

Rather annoyed, two of us set off to try and catch the walking tour that had just left, but they were too far gone. I started walking back to the hostel but ran into another Melbournite who had also set off to find them, and was similarly annoyed. I decided to join him because, having been on another walking tour the day before, he had a vague idea of a route they might have taken. We streaked off in a possible direction and on the way, he pointed out some places and information he had heard from his tour the day before, like a Jewish temple and an ancient bathhouse.

We were wondering whether to turn back or just wander at our own pace when I noticed an Englishman who appeared to be in the act of tour guiding. We asked to join him and join we did. Although he said they were nearly done, we kept going for over an hour and he was pretty good: we went into an elaborate Granada university professor garden, went up the sacred mountain where the gypsies lived, were pointed out the old ancient wall, were treated to nice views of the Alhambra and some history about it, and more.My companion said it was better than the one he had been on the day before so I felt like the morning had been somewhat saved, although I´ll never know if the hostel one is better, as it is apparently longer: but apparently our guide used to do the ones from our hostel.

By the time I got back to the hostel there was just enough time to have lunch and look some things up on the internet before the cave and graffiti tour at 3pm. This tour was another 2.5 hours long, and involved walking all the way up the hill and over the long way to Sacremonte, the gypsy area we had had pointed out on the morning walking tour. On the way, we saw some famous graffiti and received a few more tidbits of information.

Back at the hostel we managed to scrape together the minimum of six for the midnight pub crawl, with the help of two exuberant French gentlemen who proceded to dance exuberantly with each of the three ladies in turn at the final club, which was half in a gypsy cave at Sacremonte and had a view of the Alhambra, which was lit up beautifully at night. We were also entertained earlier in the night by an underwear wearing Spanish buck – as in bucks night – and a Spanish man mustering up ºyou are beautifulº to me with the help of his wingman. I suspect he did not know much else English, though.

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