Spain Trip – Part 4: Granada

Here the next part of my blog post series about our trip to Spain in August.
We first stayed 3 days in Barcelona:  part 1: Barcelona. Followed by a trip down the east coast of Spain to Granada: part 2: Spanish East coast. From there we made a few day excursions: part 3: Day Trips.
And now I will talk about the things we have seen in Granada. Except for the Alhambra. that topic deserves its own post. 🙂

Albayzín

The first day in Granada, we explored the district we were staying in – the Albayzín.
It is one of the oldest parts of the city and from the time the Mores ruled over the Iberian peninsula.
You can still see the Arabic influences very strongly. Especially down the Calle Calderería Nueva, with its bazaar-like charm and little booths selling oriental clothing and souvenirs.

The Albayzín was build on top of the hill across the river Rio Darro from the Alhambra. On top of the hill is the Iglesia de San Nicolás with a breathtaking view over the city and of the Alhambra. On the plaza next to it, we were able to listen to some beautiful street music.

Later at night, we had a wonderful dining and Flamenco experience at the Jardines de Zoraya restaurant.

 

Alcaicería & Granada’s Cathedral

 

On another day we visited the downtown are of Granada. We did a tour through its magnificent Cathedral. It was definitelty impressive with so much ornamental detail and great artwork. Next door is the old market area Alcaireria, which is also one of Granada’s must-visits.

Abadía del Sacromonte

 

 

Another interesting spot to visit in Granada is the district called Sacromonte. It is filled with old cave houses similar but a little less hidden than the ones in Guadix. This used to be the district populated by the gypsies of Spain and you can still see some people living their nomadic ways in some improvised housing across the river along the hills. They also use the many little caves for shelter. Walking up another hill we ended up by the Abby of Sacromonte. It used to be Jewish and now Christian.

Anyone coming to visit Spain and in particular the province of Andalusia should spend some time in Granada if only for the otherworldly architecture of the Alhambra, but better to see even more of this beautiful city.

In my next post I will talk about the Alhambra – the undefeated highlight of our trip to Spain.

If you have missed the previous posts, here they are:
Spain Trip – Part 1: Barcelona 
Spain Trip – Part 2: Spanish East Coast
Spain Trip – Part 3: Day Trips

Spain Trip – Part 3: Day Trips

As promised, here is part 3 of my series of posts about our vacation to Spain in August.
We first stayed 3 days in Barcelona:  part 1: Barcelona. Then we made our way down the east coast of Spain to Granada: part 2: Spanish East coast.

In Granada, we stayed in a beautiful vacation rental in the old district of Albayzín with fantastic view of the Alhambra.

I will talk more about Granada and the Alhambra in future posts, but now I want to describe the couple of day trips we made. Originally we had planned to make more trips to Seville, Cordoba, etc. but they were a little far for our taste. So we ended up making one trip to the coast and one trip to hike in the mountains.

Almuñécar

The trip to the coast south of Granada, lead us through some beautiful mountains to the coastal town of Almuñécar. Almuñécar is located on the Costa Tropical, and was founded around 800 BC as a Phoenician colony called Sexi (hehehe, sorry 5-year old coming through). On the south side close to downtown is a rock that serves as a view point to see the coast and skyline. We also spend some time on the beach enjoying a dip in the Mediterranean Sea to cool off.

Pampaneira & Bubión

Another day trip was to the little mountain city of Pampaneira. It is located in the Poqueira gorge and about 1060 metres above sea level. It is close to the two highest mountains in the Sierra Nevada Range:  Mulhacén and Alcazaba.

After a little stroll through the cute town, we went on a hiking path that was supposed to lead up the sides of the gorge and through the two nearby cities of Bubión and Capileira.
Unfortunately, there were a few factors that made us cut our hike short. One was the weather. We had expected it to be cooler up this high above sea level, however it was not which made hiking pretty cumbersome. The other problems were related to the path. Much of it was overgrown with thorn bushes or marked very poorly. At some point we were not sure we were still on the correct path and decided to turn around.
It was still a fun hiking day, just not exactly what we expected.

Most of the other days we spend in Granada as well as one of them visiting the Alhambra. I will be talking about this in the next post.

If you have missed the previous posts, here they are:
Spain Trip – Part 1: Barcelona 
Spain Trip – Part 2: Spanish East Coast

Crochet Blanket and Baby Jacket

I’m taking a little break in posting about my Spain trip until after the weekend. You will be able to read the next post about that on Monday. Today it’s Friday and I’m keeping it light 🙂

I made a couple of things crochet. Number one is a little baby jacket from left over yarn.
I chose the colors with a beach or forest theme in mind and tried to line them up to create an ombre effect.

I used the following pattern for the 0 –  3 month size, but because the yarn was all rests and all somewhat different sizes, the size of the finished piece is not exact. We will see, because my Baby may not be exact either, hahaha. You never know what size they come out. :p
Three Way Baby Sweater

At the same time I had been working on a blanket for the living room. I saw this pattern and really loved the color choices as well.
Comfy Squares Textured Blanket
I picked a thicker super soft yarn in similar colors though so I had to wing it with the hook size and number of stitches and rows. Also it turned out I needed a ton of yarn which is why my finished blanket is a little smaller than I wanted but bigger than the model. I wanted something to cover myself sitting on the couch, not just a baby blanket size. But the materials started getting expensive. I really like the result though:

I don’t have another crochet project lined up at the moment because right now I need to focus on Halloween costumes and I wanted to participate in Inktober, creating drawings in ink every day of October including pages for the coloring book I have been slacking on 🙂

There are no posts on the weekend, so stay tuned for more travel posts starting Monday!

Spain Trip – Part 2: Spanish East Coast

This post I am describing the things we saw in part 2 of  our recent trip to Spain. If you have missed the first part of this trip, here it is: part 1: Barcelona.

After 3 days in Barcelona, we headed south along the coast toward Andalusia. We spend most of the rest of the trip in Granada.

Tarragona

The first stop on the way was a beautiful old town called Tarragona. It houses ruins of an amphitheater from the Roman times. Today they still perform plays and mock gladiator fights in those ruins.
It has a beautiful beach. On cliffs north of the beach there is the old fortress Fortí de Sant Jordi which was build during the succession war in the early 18th century.

Dénia

We stopped for the night in Dénia, a small historical town on the Costa Blanca. The town is very old. There is evidence of human habitation in the area since prehistoric times.
We stayed in a lovely small hotel in the downtown area called Hostal Loreto. The street next to it was only a pedestrian street and at night restaurants put out tables for dinner.
During dinner, we were lucky enough to see a parade for one of the many festivals each town in Spain celebrates frequently.

Driving through the mountains

On the way to Granada, we left the coast westward through one of the many mountain ranges in Spain. We were impressed with the quality of the streets as well as the many tunnels.

Guadix

Last stop before Granada was the little mountain town Guadix. One of the districts is filled with cave houses that are still inhabited. One of them is open to the public as a museum. That was quite impressive. In the panorama you can see the little chimneys of each of these houses peaking out of the ground. The temperature inside was very nice and cool without any air-conditioning.

It took us 2 days and about 10 hours total to get from Barcelona to Granada.
In Granada, we stayed for the rest of the trip and I will talk about its attractions and surrounding area as well as its main highlight – the Alhambra – in the remaining posts.

Next: Part 3 – Day Trips

If you have missed it, here is part 1 of the trip: Barcelona.

Spain Trip – Part 1: Barcelona

Finally, almost a month later, I am starting my series of posts about our trip to Spain. We went the last two weeks of August.

To start off, I want to mention a few things overall that I would have done differently or that I thought worked out very well.

Timing

We went in high summer due to being limited by summer break from high school for my sister. But if at all possible, I would suggest to go in Spring or Fall for many reasons:
  1. The prices for lodging etc. will be lower in off season.
  2. It won’t be as crowded. Many Europeans including the Spanish themselves do vacation in summer.
  3. Most importantly: it will not be so HOT. It was very hot and we had to do some sort of siesta due to that, which will take off a few hours out of you day. Luckily the Spanish are used to that and many things are open late, but it will be dark.

Transportation

Unless you plan on camping or road tripping, getting a rental is not very useful and so expensive. We had one and most of the time we had to park it in a garage for a steep fee.
The public transport is great and many downtown/historical parts of the city are just not reachable via car.

Vacation Rentals

For this trip we decided to go with vacation rentals instead of hotels because we were meeting my family and travelling with them. And I am very happy we did. It is about the same price if not cheaper than hotels and allows you to have some private area to sit with the family, have breakfasts and dinners together. We also enjoy cooking and didn’t want to have to go out to dinner every night.
another perk was, that we were able to stay in some more historic areas of some cities that may not have a hotel or may have been expensive and quickly booked.
So I can definitely recommend this if you travel with family, other than if you do camping.
But now let’s get to the things we were able to see in Barcelona.

Gaudi Architecture

The first day we spend visiting multiple spots within the city with architecture by Antoni Gaudí, a famous Spanish architect of the Catalan Modernism. Many of his buildings are in a Modernisme or Art Nouveau style and greatly influenced by flowing, organic themes of nature – aka they have a lizard or ginger bread house feel to them. Ceramic tile mosaics were a huge part of the designs.

Sagrada Família

First we visited this large Roman Catholic church in a mixed style of Gothic and Art Nouveau. This project is still under construction and was only a quarter of the way at the time Gaudi died in 1926. No work was done until the 50s and is said to have had its half way point in 2010. Quite a project!

Casa Batlló

After a stroll through the city we stopped at Casa Batlló, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. The local name is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones) because it looks like some sort of animal with bones. The roof definitely makes me think of a dragon. You can also go inside for a tour for a fee.

Casa Milà

Just down the road is another of Gaudi’s building, the Casa Milà. It is so impressive because the stone front and columns are self-supporting and it has no load-bearing walls on the inside. It can be visited from the inside and also has an interesting spiral shaped roof terrace. In 1984 it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Park Güell

After a little Siesta we visited the biggest collection of Gaudi architecture, the Park Güell. It is located on the Carmel hill and quite a climb to get up there in the heat. But it is absolutely worth your while. So many buildings in Gaudi’s typical style with tile mosaics or very nature like designs from his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). It is all located in a nature park and just grand and impressive. We also experienced some nice Spanish street music in the park.

Gothic Quarter

The next day we were able to visit the beautiful narrow alleys and gorgeous architecture of the Gothic quarter. This was the old down town of Barcelona and has many Medieval and even Roman buildings  from it’s time as a Roman settlement. There are many churches as well as the old Jewish quarter located in the area.

Harbor

Just a hop away is the port of Barcelona.  It is Spain’s third and Europe’s ninth largest container port. This is not the only port in Barcelona, as there are also two additional yacht harbors and marinas.
We took a little boat tour of the port during which we could refresh and relax from all the walking.

Castle Montjuïc

Next stop was  Montjuïc hill that can be reached via scenic cable car ride. There are many attractions on this hill like the Olympic village, but as it was getting late we were only able to quickly visit the castle Montjuïc, an old military fortress from the 17th century.

There were quite a few other things we wanted to see if we had more time. But it was time to move on down the east coast to Granada in Andalusia.
In the next post, I talk about that part of the trip:
Part 2: Spanish East Coast.
Part 3: Day Trips