This weekend was so far the best weekend I had at Spain. We went on an amazing trip to Granada for 3 days, which is the first of the two trips planned for the Study Abroad program. The trip was organized by Berklee, so all transportation, accommodation; food etc was set up before hand. Basically all we had to do was to show up and enjoy the city. Overall, this was one of the best weekends I have ever had.
Granada means culture. The city is located on the South of Spain, so it has been the stop of many different cultures through the history. And also fun fact, Granada means “pomegranate”, apparently that’s where the name of the city comes from.
Granada is a place where people from all cultures have lived together for hundreds of years, therefore yielding to an extensive musical, architectural, historical and cultural background. For over 700 years, the city was the capital of the Arab empire in Spain. The exchange of different cultures has led to the diverse culture of Spain, and Granada is the place to see the roots of the culture. For instance, with the influence of the Arab inhabitance 20% of the current Spanish language actually consists of Arabic words. We could see this in the first person when we made our way to our first stop, Alhambra.
Alhambra is the ancient capital of the Arab empire in Spain. The official title, Alhambra de Generalife literally means “The Gardens of Heaven”. I think the name does much justice to the place, because the moment you climb up the town of Alhambra you get a sensation that you are in a unique place. The beautiful gardens, mazes and the whole atmosphere look like something out of a fantasy movie. The city is also a row of castles, living quarters and many different monuments overlooking the city of Granada, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.
We walked around the entire town and saw inside the castles, quarters, the buildings with arabesque ornaments, converted mosques and the gardens. Alhambra is one of the most unique places in the world in terms of history too. We even saw the hall where Christopher Columbus has met with the Queen of Spain to plan his famous trip that changed history.
After finishing Alhambra, we walked around the city of Granada and discovered open-air markets, the small streets and quarters around the city. Granada is a small place so you can walk anywhere around 15-20 minutes maximum. So we walked around until the dinnertime that day.
The dinner was set on a restaurant on a hill that was overlooking the city of Granada, as well as a magnificent view of the Castle of Alhambra. It was about a 5-6 course meal, not as overwhelming as the first one but it was just great food overall.
Speaking of meals, I need to make a special note. On the first night we got to Granada, we went to a restaurant Berklee reserved for us. We were expecting small tapas for appetizers and maybe a main course. This dinner turned out to be a seven-course meal that stuffed all of us. After two and a half hours, we basically experienced the greatest meal of all time. There was so much food that most of us do not even remember what exactly we ate.
The next day we went on a walking tour of the historical center of Granada. We saw the neighborhood of Albayzin, which comprises of small streets, very beautiful houses and overall a fusion of Moorish culture and the later influences within the city. We looked over the hill that has beautiful views of Alhambra castle, the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background, as well the city of Granada in the background. There were also Gypsy musicians playing music in the background so that just added to the whole atmosphere of this place.
Later that day, we went on a Flamenco dance class that Berklee set up for us. It was an intense two hours, but Flamenco is a very complicated dance type where you use your feet to tap and dance at the same time. It was a cool experience, but I’ll stick to the music.
After the show, we went on to a restaurant at a cave at the Gypsy neighborhood. Yes, we went to a restaurant located in a cave. It was pretty awesome. After dinner there was even live flamenco music as well as dancers. It was a great ending to one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.
Granada is a type of place you don’t come across everyday. I think everyone who visits Spain should at least plan a trip here to see the place. For me this trip was one of the highlights of Study Abroad at Valencia so far and it was an amazing experience for all of us.