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A week in the Albaycín

An old man sitting in the Plaza Larga told me I was spending my thirtieth birthday in the most beautiful city in Spain. I'd always felt a pull to the Alhambra, and after a rental in the south of France fell through, my partner and I decided that wherever the Alhambra was was where we would go. A cab at the train station took us to our short-stay apartment in the Albaycín, the white-walled medieval neighborhood on the hill opposite the Alhambra, with what we later discovered had the best views in the entire city. Our first night, we wandered the city center in a wash of jet lag and the distant shouts that echoed through the canyon from the flamenco concert behind the walls of the palace. The next day, we spent the better half of the day exploring the Alhambra before soaking in the hot and cold baths of the Baños Árabes. I've always said I navigate by my stomach, and Granada was a never-ending exploration of gazpacho, wine, smoked ham and cheese, and late-night gelato for the walk back up the hill. Pausing for sangria one afternoon, I asked the old proprietress dancing in the square where we cold find the best flamenco. Without batting an eye, she smiled, "Cueva de la Rocío." And she was right. As a friend who'd visited Granada once put it: Flamenco is all of human passion, fury, joy, and pain... in a single clap. That was Granada for me. Where the old met the new, where the heat of the continent met the cool Mediterranean air, and where I met a new decade — tanned and rested.

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