Spanish Road Trip 2023

Spanish Road Trip 2023, day 7 Ronda to Granada, and day 8, a day in Granada.

As we bid farewell to Ronda and resume our journey towards Benidorm, we opted to revisit Granada, a city we had explored during our initial road trip in 2018. To be honest our first encounter with Granada left us somewhat unimpressed.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

After a short drive from Ronda we made a customary pit stop for tostada con tomate. We love discovering charming bars and restaurants many of which we find attached to petrol stations, these are frequented by friendly locals. Even as strangers, we are warmly greeted with holas and adioses, and these spots consistently offer excellent value for money.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

As we travelled through various towns, villages, and over mountains, we couldn't help but notice signs indicating that we were on the Ruta de Washington Irving. Intrigued, we delved into some internet research to uncover the story behind this route.

The Washington Irving Route  retraces the footsteps of the American romantic writer and diplomat in 1829. Irving was captivated by the richness and exoticism of the Hispano-Arab civilization, coupled with his admiration for Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of America. 

 

Washington Irving's route serves as a link between Seville and Granada, two pivotal cities in the Hispanic-Muslim civilization. This historical road, witness to numerous wars and a bustling commercial route during periods of peace, played a crucial role in the dissemination of the romanticized image of Andalusia across Europe and America during the first half of the nineteenth century. It became a magnet for artists, writers, the curious, and various travellers.

The route, spanning the province of Seville, follows the A-92 motorway, covering approximately 250km of what was once a vital communication route during the Middle Ages.

Commencing from La Rábida in the province of Huelva, the route winds through Seville and terminates in Granada, with these three locations considered obligatory stops on the journey. However, on this particular trip, our sole planned destination was Granada, leaving the prospect of exploring the full route for a future road trip.

Our journey progressed smoothly, and we reached the city of Granada with ample time for an early check-in at our night's accommodation (see below for details).

After making ourselves comfortable in our lovely B&B we set out to explore Granada, our hosts provided us with some information and more importantly where to park in the centre of the city.

We enjoyed in a leisurely walk along the bustling streets surrounding the cathedral, if only we could capture and bottle the delightful aromas that filled the air—hints of tea, spices, and caramel.

The Cathedral -  construction was started in 1501 by order of the Catholic royal couple.  The cathedral was built on the former site of a mosque and the burial chapel for the kings was completed first. For a time, the old mosque served as a cathedral, The cathedral was built in Renaissance style and finally put to use in 1561. Afterwards, the necessary changes and additions have occurred, such as the Baroque dome church Iglesia del Sagrario in the place of the planned second tower. For nearly 200 years, various architects worked on the building of this cathedral, making the cathedral of Granada a mix of Renaissance and Gothic styles. 

Spanish Road Trip 2023, Granada

Also in this area is the La Alcaicería which is a historic market area.  The name "Alcaicería" is derived from the Arabic word "al-qaysariya," which means marketplace or bazaar. This district has a rich history dating back to the Nasrid period when Granada was under Islamic rule.

Originally, La Alcaicería was a bustling silk market during the Nasrid dynasty. After the Christian Reconquista in 1492, when the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella took control of Granada, the market was rebuilt. However, it was never fully restored to its former glory. The current layout dates back to the 16th century.

We explored the maze of small shops selling a wide range of products, including textiles, ceramics, spices, jewellery, and souvenirs. It's a great place to shop for traditional crafts and gifts, this area is also known for its tea shops, where you can enjoy a taste of Moroccan tea, unlike during our last visit where we felt quite unsafe in this area, this time of year we really enjoyed this area, but if you do visit, keep an eye out for pick pockets.

We found a lovely restaurant in one of the many squares and whilst enjoying a plate of mixed grilled meats, it dawned on us that perhaps our earlier decision to dismiss Granada was a bit hasty and we promptly made the decision to extend our stay by an extra night, giving us the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the charm of the city. A brief phone call confirmed the availability of our room for an additional night.

As it was more of a winter trip, I had been looking forward to some churros con chocolate all week and we found the perfect place for these here in Granada, the perfect winter treat.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

Nights 6 & 7 Accommodation - La Luna del sur B&B - 40€ per night and FREE parking.

This was a wonderful property, situated in a quiet location in the village of Alfacar, about 8km from the centre of Granada. We had a warm welcome and were shown to our room, which had beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and Granada, itself from the balcony.

The room was an excellent size and had everything that we needed, the bed was comfortable and we had 2 good nights sleep. 

An added bonus was that we were able to log into our Netflix account and enjoy a few hours in the evenings watching what we wanted on TV.

This would also be the perfect accommodation for a summer visit as it also had a lovely swimming pool and pretty gardens.

There was also a shared kitchen, with everything you could possibly need during a longer stay, although called a B&B this time of year that was not offered, but we were happy to find our own breakfast and at the price we paid we were certainly not going to complain. 

Would we return - Yes 100%

Day 7 - A day in Granada

After a good nights sleep we ventured back into Granada city, and, enjoyed the early morning atmosphere in one of the main squares, Plaza Romanilla, enjoying our breakfast, tostada con pate for me, just for a change.

Situated nearby was one of the pickup points for the Granada city tour. Unlike a conventional bus or train, this tour was a unique combination – a few carriages towed behind a van. Eager to explore the city without exhausting ourselves on foot, we decided to give it a try. It was a novel experience for us. Interestingly, the driver seemed to think we were older than we actually are, as he handed us senior tickets, each priced at just 4.55€. Not ones to complain about a good deal, we happily accepted, the normal price for a one day ticket was still reasonable at 9.10€ which we would have been more than happy to pay.

Following the typical hop-on-hop-off format common in many large cities, this tour proved to be a bit of a bone shaker as the vehicle travels over quite a few cobbled streets, not for those looking for luxury travel, but well worth the slight discomfort to see the main sights of the city.

The city tour route includes 1a Alhambra Generalife (tickets) 1b, Alhambra Palacios Nazaries/Puerta Justica, 2, Cuesta Gomerez, 3, Plaza Nueve, 4, Paseo del Los Tristes, 5, Mirador de San Cristobal/Albayzin, 6, Monasterio de la Cartuja, 7, Plaza de Tores 8, Catedral/Plaza Romanilla (our starting point), 9, Calle Alhondiga, 10, Plaza Mariana Pineda, 11, Calle Molinos, 12, Hotel Alhambra Palace.

The tour also included headsets with information in various languages, (we did not bother with these) a handy APP so you can see when the next vehicle is due.

Here were our chosen destinations, to explore.

Paseo de Los Tristes (stop 4) also known as  "Promenade of the Sad" or "Promenade of the Unfortunate," this is one of the most picturesque and popular spots in Granada. This historic street runs along the Darro River at the base of the Alhambra, offering stunning views of the iconic palace and the surrounding hills.

Spanish Road Trip 2023, Granada

The name "Paseo de los Tristes" has a historical origin. It is said to refer to the funeral processions that used to pass through the area on their way to the nearby cemetery. Despite its somber name, the promenade is lively and vibrant today, filled with cafes, restaurants, and street performers, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink while taking in the breath taking views of the Alhambra, menu del dia prices here were quite good, considering the location, but too early for lunch for us.

Along Paseo de los Tristes, you can find the El Bañuelo, a well-preserved set of Arab baths dating back to the 11th century. These baths offer a glimpse into the Islamic history of Granada and are worth exploring.

During high season the promenade often hosts local artisans selling handmade crafts and street performers entertaining passers by. This adds to the lively and cultural atmosphere of the area.

Stop 5 Mirador de San Cristobal/Albayzin - A viewpoint located in the Albayzín district of Granada, which is a historic neighbourhood known for its narrow winding streets, traditional white-washed houses, and Moorish architecture. The Mirador de San Cristobal provided a great view of the city of Granada below.  

The Albayzín district itself has a rich history, with roots tracing back to the Nasrid dynasty. Wandering through its narrow streets, visitors can experience a unique blend of Moorish and Spanish influences, the whole neighbourhood is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The viewpoint is named after the San Cristobal Church, which is nearby. The church is a historical landmark in its own right and is worth exploring whilst in the area.

The Mirador de San Cristobal area has several cafés and restaurants where visitors can relax, enjoy a meal, and soak in the views. It's a great place to unwind and appreciate the beauty of Granada, sadly most were closed during our visit and we did not have much time to wander around, but just enjoyed the views.

Stop 6 Monasterio de la Cartuja - Located just north of the city centre in the Barrio de Cartuja. The monastery, officially named "Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción," was founded in 1516 and belongs to the Carthusian order. It is commonly known as the Cartuja Monastery. The construction of the monastery took several centuries, and it reflects a mix of architectural styles, including Gothic and Baroque.

Spanish Road Trip 2023, Granada

The monastery complex includes the Cartuja Museum, which houses a collection of religious art and artifacts. Visitors can explore the museum to learn more about the history of the monastery and the Carthusian order, only having one day in the city, we did not have time to explore the museum.

The monastery is surrounded by lush gardens, providing a peaceful and scenic atmosphere. The gardens are well-maintained and offer a serene space to stroll and relax, and on our visit, a couple of newly weds were making the most of the gardens for their wedding photos, which was nice to watch. 

Stop 7, Plaza de Toros (Granada Bull ring)  - This is also known as the Monumental de Frascuelo, it was built between 1927 and 1928 by local architect Ángel Casas.

The building is in neo-Mudejar style and since 1991 it has been listed as an Asset of Cultural Interest, both by the Ministry of Culture and by the regional government. The Plaza de Toros de Granada is one of the ten largest bullrings in Spain, with a ring of 50.40 meters in diameter and 12,000 seats, although it originally had a capacity for 14,507 people.

Spanish Road Trip 2023, Granada

Here is a lovely square with plenty of cafes and restaurants to sit and admire the scenery, if you check your bus ticket you will find discount vouchers for some of the cafes here, unfortunately we did not do this until we were back in our hotel.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and organized city tours offer a convenient and efficient way to explore the main attractions of a city, being designed to cover key points of interest, offer historical context, and provide a structured itinerary.

Back to our original drop off point, the Plaza Romanilla and now feeling hungry we enjoyed a fantastic menu del dia for only 14€ each, an excellent price for a city square.

After an enjoyable but quite tiring day, it was back to our accommodation, for an early night, ready for the final leg of our journey back home to Benidorm.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

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