Chilling out in Granada

Unlike August when we first visited Granada in searing 40C heat, this visit was in warm Winter sunshine with days often reaching 20C and chilly nights. In fact the only ‘bad’ day on this visit was Christmas day, when it rained.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a sumptuous meal prepared by Andrea’s mum Marie and her sister Sonia. It was delightful to meet more of Andrea’s family. Hayden of course entertained us all in both Spanish and English. He hasn’t forgotten the art of conversation but rather adapted it to his Spanish speaking skills as well.

I do think we got Toni’s interest in Australia reignited with some books we brought along. And it would be lovely for Sonia and Toni’s sons Pablo and Javier to visit us one day.

We spent Christmas Day with the immediate family – Hayden and Andrea, at a lovely restaurant, Mirador de Morayma, overlooking the Alhambra. To their delight I had knitted scarves for their travelling companions Pepe and Paco, as a little extra Christmas cheer.

The restaurant was named after Morayma, the wife of the last Muslim king in Granada who spent much of her life watching the Alhambra from here and dreaming of becoming Queen.

Having already spent hours in the Alhambra, we decided to get to know Granada better this visit. So it was long walks through the city and a visit to the Science museum that took our fancy.

The Science Museum has a wonderful tower to view the Alhambra and the snow capped Sierra Nevada. It also had interesting exhibitions on the body and more specifically the brain with well laid out interactive presentations in English as well as Spanish. There was also a room dedicated to Granada’s puppet, musical theater ‘etcétera’ which showed some history of puppetry around the world as well as video scenes from their own puppet shows.

We visited the caves of Sacromento. Sacromento is a suburb on the hot, south facing side of the Darro River ravine which overlooks the Alhambra. Caves have been scooped out since time immemorial but most recently inhabited by gypsies and flamencos and it is here that flamenco music and dancing was born in Granada.

The exhibition not only introduced us to life in caves but also explained their way of life, including the gardens they grew and the crafts they used. Granada’s temperatures range from extremely hot to very cold and the caves offer a constant year round temperature of 15C to 19C.

Our other port of call was the Museo Casa de los Tiros (house of Tiros) which was a rich merchants home. Architectural features are lovely, particularly the ceiling in the reception room (Cuadra Dorada) with beautiful carved and painted figures.

The house also offered a further insight to Granada’s history from the Arabic sultans who made it their major city on the peninsular to their overthrow by the Catholics, who also placed great importance on it, being the major residence of some Castille royal families.

We found the Carmen de los Mártires (House of the Martyrs) with a view to seeing the gardens. Unbelievably the gardens shut between 2pm and 4pm for Siesta (2pm and 6pm in Summer). Built high above the Alhambra, I would have thought it a lovely spot to escape the searing heat of Granada city. But you can’t do that because like all walks of life in Spain, they too need their Siesta.

We did return to the gardens after the Siesta, and they are beautiful – formal gardens with artificial lakes and ponds, orange trees and box borders all complimented with a peacock and his two peahens. I wonder if they take the Siesta?

And so we saw a different Granada. We have no doubt we will be back as we catch up with Hayden and Andrea at various times. I don’t think I could be bored there. Apart from good shopping and excellent food, there is still a lot to see and do.