It was about 10 AM on Sunday morning by the time we had enjoyed breakfast at the hostal, retrieved our car and checked out. Traffic was light on another beautiful sunny day as we cruised, along with a few other vehicles, to the outskirts of Granada on a nice divided highway as we began our drive to Seville. Suddenly, ahead I spotted some policemen standing beside the road along with several of their vehicles, motioning our entire group of about ten vehicles to pull off onto a parallel side-road. There, all the drivers were given breathalyzer tests - the first one I had ever had!! Luckily, I passed!
It then came to me that Spanish custom is to eat and drink much later in the evenings than I do, and with it having been a Saturday night, there were probably a few people with severe hang-overs out driving the streets! Our Lonely Planet guide states: "The blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%. Breath tests are becoming more common and if found to be over the limit, you can be judged, condemned, fined and deprived of your licence within 24 hours. Fines range up to 600 Euros for serious offenses. Nonresident foreigners will be required to pay up on the spot (at 30% off the full fine). If you don't pay, or don't have a Spanish resident go guarantor for you, your vehicle will be impounded". It was probably a good thing I had gone to bed very early after our busy day touring the Alhambra!
A friend of mine who claims to have a "decent sense of direction" (I'm withholding judgment on this matter until further evidence is gathered) had a hard time finding the entrance to the Nasrid Palace at the Alhambra and missed his 1/2 hour time slot. I could give him a hard time about being a man and not asking for directions. Or not bringing one of his color coded cross referenced set of directions and map. But I'm biting my tongue.... (ow! ow! ow!)
In the days of the Moors, they probably would have taken my friend with the dubious claims of a decent sense of direction and had them snuffed out in one of the courtyards while the harem ladies danced away but today you're merely denied admittance and out 5E. If you don't want to suffer the same fate, arrive at the Alhambra well in advance of the time of your entrance to the Nasrid Palace, you may encounter a line to pick up your tickets, you could get lost or encounter surly Spaniards unwilling to give you directions. I thought the Palace was well marked if you headed there from the ticket office but if you are wandering around the gardens of Generalife it does take a bit of time to get over to where the Palace is.
And if you find yourself lost in a shrubbery maze, you've gone the wrong direction! But I'm wondering, just how does someone 6'5" get lost in a shrubbery maze? ;-)
Just as had happened four days earlier in Alicante when I picked up our first short-term rental car, I had great difficulty in finding my way around Granada by car! It did not help matters that I did not have a very good map of the many narrow, steep and twisting streets of the old Moorish quarter where our hostal was located - just something from Google roughly showing the hostal's location. My plan was to just put the car away in their private parking garage for our two nights in town, but first I had to find the place!
On entering the downtown area we were soon hopelessly lost so reverted to using the red tourist signs pointing the way to the Alhambra, since we knew the hostal was located close to it. We drove around for what seemed like two hours in the complicated maze of narrow streets with difficult to find street names, heavy traffic and sometimes one-way only with no luck. Finally, I saw a public parking garage and just pulled into it and found a spot for the car. Out we got and took off on foot, obtaining a tourist map giving us a more detailed overview of the downtown streets in the Alhambra area. Even on foot we must have taken an hour slogging up and down the hillside trying to find Hostal Landazuri. Finally, from Plaza Nueva, I looked up this street and saw the white hostal! There, at the foot of the street were round traffic signs on both sides with a big red 'X' and words saying 'No Entry' but with much smaller printing below saying 'Except for official vehicles and hostal guests'!! No wonder I had not been able to find the place - trying to read all the fine print with various vehicles up my rear bumper!
We walked up the street, checked in and then I walked back to the parking garage to retrieve our rental car. Even then, I still got lost on the way back but finally managed to reach the hostal and ditch the car until we left two days later! It was a breeze leaving town on a Sunday morning with little traffic and we also knew 'the lay of the land' by then!
I was very impressed with this airport on arrival, it seemed to be pretty well organised, although as I was carrying hand luggage only, I was quickly through- and soon was on the bus into Granada (about 15 /20 minutes away- 3 euros)
- in the arrivals/ departures area there is No Smoking at all- you have to nip outside.
The duty free is quite small, quite a good selection of souvenirs, with a fresh food stall to buy your chorizo, olives etc. Perfume / alcohol choice etc though is quite limited.
My main warning is that once you've passed through passport control, there are no facillities - no shops, no food outlets etc- just lounges with chairs.
I mistakenly thought I'd be able to spend my last few euros after I'd passed through passport control.
So, purchase your presents in Granada, or in the duty free before you pass through passport control.
If you fancy living abroad and you need to earn money to do it then teaching English is your best bet.
First you need a TEFL/TESOL qualification which you will have to pay for. You can do the course in your country or in Spain. I did mine in Barcelona with Next Training who are affiliated with Trinity. Accommodation was provided by them: you can live with a Spanish family or with an existing English teacher. You can also do a CELTA course here in Granada.
Once you have your qualification you can expect to work 25-27 hours on a full time contract. A good wage would be 1000euros a month in Granada. Beware of Schools such as Inlingua who pay really BAD wages. Other schools may offer you paid by the hour work for around 9 euros an hour. Although this is a good amount be careful because if the classes are small or individual, when they don't come YOU won't get paid! Even if they still have to pay!
Don't accept contract work for any less than 8 euros an hour!
Wages can be low in Granada due to the ridiculously low prices private English school teachers charge. You don't even need a qualification to do this. you can put up posters all over Granada for students, but because completion is so high you may only make 5-6 euros an hour. Then may find it difficult to live on this if you don't have LARGE savings! Especially as you don't get paid during the holidays (and there are MANY holidays in Spain!).
NORTH AMERICANS AND AUSTRALIANS BEWARE: it is impossible to find LEGAL work in Spain because it is too difficult to get a work visa (due to Spain's ridiculous red tape!).
If you would like more info about teaching in Spain please contact me! I would like to help you!
We booked the Alhambra tour in a travel agency in Torremolinos. We got the Rusadir travel bus and guides. They turned out to be horrible, putting a damper on our tour. Nothing they promised turned out to be true. They promised new busses with the highest technology and what have you not. So we were surprised when an older bus picked us up at the hotel and weren't sure if that was our bus as it had no sign on the side facing us, only on the other side. Inside the bus the armrest, where my friend was sitting next to me, was broken and there were no seatbelts. The bus was full and she was having problems holding on to the seat in front of her.
The guide on the bus was unbelievable, he was supposed to be multilingual, but I could not even understand his English, he spoke broken English with a lot of grammar mistakes and a heavy Spanish accent. I had to rely on his Spanish (the little I know of that language) and some German and I noticed that he explained a lot more in German than in English. An English lady sitting next to us said that his French was even worse than his English :(
When we arrived at Alhambra we were told that we had 5 minutes to go to the toilet, people on the bus were rushing to the toilets, where there were long queues, and fearing being left behind.
We got another guide at Alhambra and were hoping she would turn out to be better than our bus-guide. See my next tip.
There can be a lot of traffic in the centre of Granada, but there are lots of pedestrian crossings also.
This crossing on Gran Via Colon, near the Cathedral (which is one of the busiest areas) intrigued me!
When the green man light comes on, signalling that it is ok for you to cross, there is a beeping noise, and you have about 20 seconds to cross, as the sign counts down the number of seconds in green lights under the 'walking' man symbol
We got a guided tour of Alhambra and were hoping that the guide would turn out to be better than the bus-guide. Sadly this didn't prove to be the case. She spoke better English than the bus-guide, but with a very soft voice and only the people at the front could hear what she was saying. I decided on buying the Alhambra guide book when I got back to Torremolinos, as we couldn't hear anything. Apart from that she was dressed in brown and didn't stand out of the crowd and had no flag so that we could spot her. I spoke to her about this and then she started holding her water bottle up in the air from time to time but that didn't help a bit. There were many people in Alhambra and one woman on our tour was also wearing brown and we found ourselves often standing beside that woman thinking she was the tour-guide.
This tour was extremely stressful and we felt like cattle rushed through the palaces, and we often lost the guide and had to run after her, not knowing in which direction she was going. People were disappointed, out of breath, confused and getting angry as most of our tour we had to focus on "where is our guide" instead of enjoying Alhambra.
This was a totally disappointing amateur marathon tour - what a let down! Fortunately there were 4 of us travelling together so we could laugh at it later, but I advice you to never take a guided tour like this with Rusadir.
After the marathon visit to Alhambra the bus-guide picked us up and left us in Granada where we could have lunch and there was no time to visit the Cathedral or anything else. I can tell you that we didn't have the strength to do anything but sit there at the café after this marathon - plus that the temperature was 38 degrees C.
We went to the travel agency in Torremolinos the day after the tour and complained about this tour and I added that I would be writing about Rusadir here on VT. Altogether the 4 of us had paid 240 euros for the tour (which is a lot when you are Icelandic and your króna had just collapsed) so this was a big disappointment.
I was wondering where to put this tip: tourist traps, transportation... Finally here it is.
If you go to Granada by car and don’t know well the city, be very careful. We trusted on the navigator and suddenly we realized that had taken a bus lane. We corrected immediately but there was a camera. Some weeks later we received a notification at home: we were given a fine of 80 €!
A really common thing in Granada and other towns with tourists. Especially around the Cathedral they will come up to you and try to force a sprig of rosemary in your hand, Saying "Toma! Un regalo!" Take it! Its a gift! You could take it and recieve a "blessing" from them but if you do you have to give them money. But rosemary is a good thing, you can see some flamenco dancers with it in their hair. Just be careful, also anytime people are close to you KNOW where your wallet is or it might dissapear....
Yes that's right; this is where the alien from Alien takes his holiday! Don't worry he doesn't attack people when he is on holiday, but if you would like to avoid him don't go down Escuelas just off of Plaza Universidad because that's where he spends most of his time (shopping in the second hand clothes shops that you can find down that way)!
Graffiti is a big problem in Granada; it is everywhere. Some of it is really terrible like peoples names scrawled on walls; other examples are true works of art or at least they are interesting to look at. The Graffiti on the house in the photo at least brightens a derelict building up a bit!
The people who just write their names or a stupid comment on historic or beautiful buildings really annoy me. If you are one of these people can I ask you a question: WHY?
This was the first time in a long while that I'd visited a place abroad and seen that dogs appeared to have outnumbered cats!
The dogs in Granada were quite cute- However! - You have to be careful where you're walking - A lot of the pavements and squares were 'decorated' with canine excretia!
Apparently this is quite a problem in Granada.
The last few months I have heard more and more stories about "tourist getting attacted or stolen purses/bags etc" while walking about el Albaizcin.
The problem is often early at night, when the city starts to get darker... and the Albaizcin has a lot of "dark corners" for an attacker/theif to hide.
Be careful when walking around there at all times, dont be to obious about being a tourist, do wear your camera around the neck. Hide it in a bag.
Dont walk around with your map. Hide it as well. If you get lost, take it out, and always remember: when you want to go back to the city: JUST GO DOWN HILL!
Be carefull - and have a great trip!
Try to avoid driving inside of the city, or parking.
The best is to leave the car at the Alhambra parking even if it is expensive.
In only one day you do not see Granada, but you can have a glimpse of what it is... so you may want to come in the future to explore it again, (that’s my problem I never stop exploring it lol)
For me the ideal would be 3 to 4 days
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