People in Granada have typically very light breakfasts. Perhaps this is because they have so many other meals throughout the day and a late dinner.
However in the hotel we stayed in they had two things on the menu for breakfast; churros and pan tomcata (bread with tomato paste). Typically many folks in Granada have nothing more than a cup of coffee for breakfast.
We had churros and chocolate for breakfast one of the two mornings in Granada. They are different than the churros you find in California which are usually seasoned with cinnamon and powdered sugar. These were served plain with a thick cup of cocoa. We continuously dipped them in the very thick chocolate. Definitely not something good for your heart but oh so tasty. Price was 1.5 euros for both which I thought was a deal!
Photo courtesy of Wiki
Piononos are small pastries traditional in Santa Fe, a small town adjacent to Granada.
A pionono consists of a thin layer of pastry rolled into a cylinder, fermented with different kinds of syrup, crowned with toasted cream.
The creator of this pastry was Ceferino Isla. He was a patissier and a devout follower of the Virgin. He wanted to pay tribute to the Pope Pious IX (Pio nono in Spanish) when he proclaimed the dogma or the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1858. Then, he decided to create a pastry with such a shape that remind the figure of a Pope: cylindrical and slightly dumpy appearance (soaked cake rolled on itself), dressed in white as the Pope (paper basket containing the soaked cake), and crown of sweetened and toasted cream on top of the cylinder (the zucchetto the Pope covers his crown with). The pastry should have also the name of the Pope.
The Pionono is just delicious. Don't leave Granada without trying.
Around Xmas there are a lot of markets and stands, specially in the Bib-Rambla and Pescaderia squares, near the Cathedral. There you will have the chance to meet locals which, even not talking much english, will surely find a way to be understood.
If you don't fancy a bottle or a large beer, just ask for 'una cana' (there should be a squiggle above the 'n' but my keyboard doesn't do it, so prounounced 'canya') and you will receive a small glass of beer, just right for a quick nip inbetween shopping or visiting the sites. I like this alot, a small wine glass sized ice cold beer is just right for me. I never drink beer here in the uk, as I don't fancy a chemical ridden bottle or a half pint/pint and don't forget, you nearly always get a free tapa with your cana in Granada.
"Credentials are reported to be available in Cordoba, again, only on weekdays and again from the office of the Cathedral. (I had a friend join us in Cordoba and made enquiries on his behalf about obtain his credentials, Unfortunately as it was a Saturday we were unable to obtain any but I was assured that they would have been available form the office of the Cathedral on any weekday) To find the office, stand with your back to the main entranace to the cathedral courtyard, turn left, and first left, you are now heading for the old Roman Puente across the river, the tourist office is to your right and the office of the Cathedral is in the next building towards the river.
Before you start to walk any “Camino” you need to obtain your “Credentials” This paper is also sometimes know as a “Pilgrims Passport”
On the lesser know Camino’s these can be somewhat problematic to get hold of, and without them you can’t stay in Perigrino accommodation or claim your Compostela when you eventually arrive in Santiago de Compostela.
I searched guidebooks and the internet before setting off for Granada and found no useful information available on this subject so made it a bit of a mission once there.
Credentials are available weekdays only from The Office of the Cathedral, This is an old building on the opposite side of the Cathedral to the main public entrance (The one you pay to see the Cathedral – we were initially told that you had to pay to go inside the cathedral and the office was inside !! – I was going to see the inside of the cathedral in any case so nothing was really lost)
The Building is unmarked but is a distinctive orange colour and has a large studded door with an arched top and poplar trees growing outside -You go into the building and there is an enquiry desk in front of you, we made enquiries here and were met with a somewhat vague response but someone in the office to the left realised what we were looking for and took us up one floor and the office that deals with issuing the Credentials is located to the front of the building. Cost is 2 Euro
In addition to the excellent food and drink at our little bar on Plaza Nueva, we also had a great view of some buskers who were entertaining passers-by in a large open area of the Plaza (with the lead busker seen here in the distance with his red top and black shorts pulled up past his waist). I have always enjoyed watching buskers but had not seen one perform in quite some time, so was pleased to be able to laugh at his juggling, fire-eating and various other antics. The show actually was taking place in front of the old Royal Chancellery at the left, built in 1530 but now used as the High Court.
The guy worked non-stop and had quite a crowd gathered around to watch his show. Unlike him, there were other street vendors (all appearing to be African) who actually came to the various tables trying to sell CDs they were carrying. We did not bite.
By pure chance, as we were finishing our walk through a part of the narrow streets of the Moorish Albaicin district, and had almost circled back to Plaza Nueva, we bumped into our new-found friend Sunny who we had first met that morning as we started out for the Alhambra tour! He mentioned that he had managed to find a venue featuring a Flamenco dancing performance, starting at about 9 PM that evening and asked us if we were interested in joining him. Even though we had not yet eaten, the ladies were over the moon with such fortuitous circumstances and I had never seen a Flamenco performance before, so we immediately accepted.
It was starting soon and we needed to buy tickets, so we all headed off in the darkness along the Rio Darro as we made our way back to the area where the show was to take place. We stopped at a couple of bars to ask for directions and eventually found the auditorium, where we had no problem buying the three tickets we needed for 5 Euros each. Sunny already had a ticket in a good section at stage level but our last-minute tickets put the three of us in the balcony. We were quite happy with both our bird's eye view and the acoustics as the show got underway. The music was great and it was interesting to see how the performance played out with the different female dancers getting up from their chairs to do their bits as the show built to its grand finale of the male dancer on the left also doing a great routine. The other male performers were strictly musicians - and they too really knew what they were doing! No photos or videos were allowed but I did slip in this single shot with the flash 'Off'.
According to Wikipedia, Flamenco is "known for its intricate rapid passages, and a dance genre characterized by its audible footwork" but the origin of its name remains unclear. It is believed to have evolved from a combination "of native Arabic, Andalusian, Sephardic, and Gypsy cultures that existed in Andalusia following its reconquest in the late 1200s and the dance form gradually spread throughout Spain over the following centuries."
We were quite pleased with our lucky turn of events as we made the late-night walk back to the Plaza, where the ladies retired for the night while I had a beer and tapas with Sunny in a bar before also bidding him adieu.
It is customary to eat very late in Spain - restaurants don't really get going until around 9.00 p.m. or later. If your digestion (or greed, as in my case!) finds this difficult, don't worry, you can either go on a tapas crawl instead, or eat in one of the restaurants in the Plaza Bib Rambla, where they are used to the strange habits of tourists. I had dinner at 7.45 p.m. one night at 'Manolo' - and it was very good (to my surprise both better and cheaper than the traditional restaurant where we had dined at 10.00 p.m. the previous night).
Art in the streets is always a good idea - I have alsways thought that musems are often too sterile locations for art... art is to be lived and touched, especially sculptures. When I was visiting granada in february 2008 I was then pleasantly surprised to see some Rodin statue, including the Thinker, around Puerta Real. I had seen them "locked" up in a museum in paris, and had not really raved about. In Granada, I found them stunning, full of life and character.
it is not the first time that the city hosts Rodin sculptures: the first time had been until December 17, 2007 9th December 2007. This second Rodin exhibition, unfortunately, is now over, since it ran fro a very short time only, from February 5 through March 30th, 2008. But there is hope for more similar events in the future.
Being Granada a city of Moorish origin, the tradition of Arab baths is still well alive. There are two places I checked out, and was very happy with both. You can also have a 15 minutes aromaterapy massage, which in both places was not very good - it was cheap, though. The prices in both establishments are similar and you need to make reservations in advance, at least theorethically. When you phone and try to reserve a 4pm or 6pm session, they will likely tell you that it's full and that wou can go there at 8 pm. However if you simply turn up, there are chances that you will be admitted. Here are the two addresses:
Hammam Arabic Baths
Calle Santa Ana, 16
Tel: 958 22 99 78
Aljibe de San Miguel Arab Baths
next to Obispo Hurtado Street
958 522 867.
The Hammam Arabic Baths are smaller and more intimate, but there are only two pools, one with hote water and one with cold water. The Aljibe de San Miguel Arab Baths are larger and more crowded, but they also have more hot water pools at different temperatures. A swimsuit must be worn, but you can buy one at the baths, if necessary
I suppose this tip could just as easily be classified as a warning or tourist trap, but I found it quite a charming local custom. All round the centre of the city, especially in the cathedral area, gypsy women accost you with offerings of a sprig of something delightfully aromatic and offer ( ?) to read your palm. I was actually standing on a wall ouside the Chapel Royal ( posing for a photo under an orange tree - what else ? ) when a young girl reached up and shoved this sprig into my hand. My husband was jumping up and down with rage behind because she'd already asked him and he'd refused, but I quite enjoyed the experience. She told me I had excellent health and I told her she was wrong so she changed that to excellent head health and that I was very intelligent. Clever girl herself obviously !! Next she told me I had 3 children, all big now ( very observant ) . I told her I had 4 and without missing a beat she picked up my other hand and spotted one she'd missed. She was funny and in no way aggressive and I had no problem with giving her a few euro for her quick wit. We all like to romanticise the gypy connection with Granada so I think it's not too surprising that they are going to milk that for what it's worth in economic terms.
Seems everywhere I've gone in the past several years I've found graffiti aimed at the current President of the United States but I don't view it as Anti-American sentiment as much as Anti-Bush sentiment. I think people in other countries can separate the people from the US from the politics and leaders of the US.
I didn't personally encounter any anti-American sentiments while in Spain so felllow Americans, no need to sew those maple leaves on your back pack just yet ;-)
The pomegranate appears on the city of Granada's coat of arms and Granada is the Spanish word for pomegranate so I expected to see pomegranates everywhere but the pomegranate I found on the side of this building and these little metal posts that divided the street from the sidewalk were the only ones I saw. Well, except for the really, really, really tacky smiling pomegranate souvenir I picked up for my husband, it looks like someone has taken a couple of big bites out of his head, the poor little fellow!
Would it have hurt to have a few dancing pomegranates in the Plaza Bib-Rambla? All we saw was an overheated Barney (you know, the I love you, you love me magenta dinosaur that seemingly rational adults loathe to the point of violence) and some really annoying mimes. Yes, I know annoying mimes is redundant.....
I don't think this is unique to Granada or even Spain but as I was wandering around Sunday afternoon I found that most shops were closed including grocery stores. I pretty much wandered the entire central district before finally finding a mini market where I could buy some drinks and snacks. And I found very few shops open although we did do some shopping in the touristy Alcaiceria district (Old Moorish silk market), just north of the Plaza Bib-Rambla and some of the tourist souvenir shops along the Plaza were open as well as the ones near the Cathedral.
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