CHAPTER 6: Granada Part 3

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Our last full day in Granada. The plan was to roam the town, take in a church or two, and visit the San Nicolás viewpoint at sunset.

The loose itinerary we created in the months leading up to our trip was much different than what actually transpired during our time so far, but that wasn’t a negative. We intentionally planned flexibility; it allowed us to see more and spend extra time doing things that we really enjoyed in places where we wanted to be. We were never rushed and never felt like we were sitting on mounds of wasted time. It was the perfect balance and it blended perfectly with the energy of Granada.
IMG_7246IMG_7244It’s strange to think that you could feel such a strong connection to a place after only a few days, but it felt like every layer that was peeled back on Granada exposed something even more beautiful about it. It was as though the deeper we delved into this city, the richer and more astounding it became to me.
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I loved it despite its Rosemary Gypsies, random wafts of questionable smells, and slow walkers. I was energized by the antiquity, the cracked bricks, and huddledness. Everything in Granada was wonderfully squished in a delightfully-aged tangle of cobblestone, clay, and dust.
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As sunset approached, we donned our cameras (and Jeff’s daypack… emergency snacks!) and ascended once more into the dusty white and beige depths of the Albayazín.

The soles of my feet were tender; both pairs of shoes I’d brought bent with the cobblestone, so every step I made through the uneven streets molded around the bumps of the worn rocks. For once in my life it appeared that platform sandals actually would have been the more appropriate choice. Lesson learned.

As we gradually wormed our way up towards the top of one ancient hill to peer out at another, the evening sky was beginning to bloom. Throughout the day, the thin brush-stroke clouds had swayed across the blue sky and we weren’t sure if the sunset would be worthwhile from the viewpoint that evening.

As we crested the final hump, we could hear a muddled din of voices and we were welcomed by dangling feet hanging over the brick wall of San Nicolás.IMG_7250
We took a right and climbed a few more steps to reach the actual lookout. The open square was peppered with small groups. While tourists took photos from the edge, locals sat on the brick rim and drank small bottles of cerveza or laughed with friends. As children played in the open square, live music echoed off the sun-bleached walls and buildings. Everyone was happily soaking in the final moments of the day.IMG_7249IMG_7251
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When the sun fell out of view, Jeff and I walked through San Nicolás’ small courtyard of local vendors, playing children, and cigarette smoke plumes to catch the final rays from between houses and pathways of the Albayazín.IMG_7252IMG_7247
Once the colors faded, we re-climbed the countless stairs to return to the lookout for a few more photos before venturing back down the way we came to search for our final meal in Granada.
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Alleyway dinner
{Pictured: course number two. Paella, toasted breadcrumbs, & salmorejo — also sangria, always sangria}

This was our favorite meal while in Granada and one of the many times we would accidentally eat each other’s food.

Throughout the trip we would have fun by ordering mystery plates that we didn’t quite recognize or ones we had never heard of before (ex: the salmorejo). We wouldn’t look up the words or ingredients in our dictionary and we would let ourselves be surprised when it showed up at our table. I enjoy doing this at home as well, but it is much more exciting when you’re truly about to be surprised.

In a little alleyway, tucked away under the shadow of the darkening Alhambra, we ordered a three-course dinner al fresco. We each ordered one mystery item and excitedly awaited their arrival (it should be noted that this is my typical reaction in any restaurant).

We were pretty certain that in each food-flip situation we experienced during our three weeks, the server definitely knew whether the plate was to go to Jeff or me, but every time he or she always insisted on asking whose food was whose. I’m sure they found it very amusing (I know I would). However this particular instance was poor timing by the kitchen; both of my plates came out at once instead of one of each of ours. I knew the paella was mine (all mine!!), so we figured the other must have been Jeff’s mystery plate. Only when we were nearly finished with the second course was the third brought out and our mix up confirmed. But whatever – dig in!
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When Jeff and I were in Nerja a few days prior, we spent a night taking slow-shutter photos of the star-splotched sky from the floor of our deck. Tonight we would lose ourself (intentionally this time) in the Albayazín, and for the last time. This night we roamed and meandered, capturing the age and beauty of Granada’s veins as it faded to darkness and quiet. Both photography experiences have become two major highlights of this trip for me.

With full bellies and (my) sore feet, we returned to Zafra under a deep navy sky to pack and prep for our first train travel day. But before we did, we played a little hide-and-seek within the walls of the Albayazín.

When we arrived at the front door of our apartment, it occurred to me that we were behaving like locals. Somewhere in our days here we became undaunted by the folding streets and abrupt dead ends – we were playing within them instead of worrying about getting lost or turned around. We were at home. This simultaneous realization and acknowledgement was a warming and jubilant moment. And as Jeff twisted the key in the lock, I felt really proud of us. Not only were we doing this whole thing on our own, we were only a few days in and we were thriving. I couldn’t help but smile.

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Sitting in the bedroom after packing up and while Jeff relaxed in the other room (taking photos of the Alhambra, I’m sure!), I wrote about my realizations over not only the course of the evening, but also over the previous few days. Reflecting on our growth and adaption was a wonderful way to cap off my favorite time in Spain.

Next we were off to Madrid, which would turn out to be Jeff’s top place in our travels. So stay tuned!

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