Another Tapa and Another Semester Abroad, Please: Granada

When I told one of my professors today that I spent the past few days in Granada, he rewarded me with a Spanish saying: “Él que no ha visto Grana-, no ha visto na-.” Translation: “He[or she] who has not seen Granada has not seen anything (nada).” Said with the accent of Andalucía, the southern region home to Granada, which basically consists of chopping off the ends of many words. The accent is like the city: easy to get lost in but even more fun because of the confusion.

Now, I don’t want to offend anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of seeing Granada, but I agree with the Spaniard that coined that phrase. I refuse to compare Madrid with any other Spanish city because I live here and therefore harbor an irreplaceable love for her. That said, Granada is far and away my favorite place that I’ve visited in Spain. If Madrid is an exciting, intense, page-turning novel, Granada is intrigue-filled poetry. My friends (all from my program) and I stayed in a cushy hostel right on the edge of the Albayzin, Granada’s old Muslim quarter. I spent almost all of my time there, climbing through the tiny alleys and tripping over all sorts of interesting things: stray cats, inch-high steps, the manchego cheese sandwich I just dropped. My lunch wasn’t the only thing I dropped during our time in Granada; I gave up on trying to keep my jaw closed when I saw the Alhambra, both from outside and in. Words cannot do this fort-palace justice, so I’m posting photos in my next entry.

I didn’t have the time to see much other than the Alhambra and the street life on my long walks, but for now that is enough. My tastebuds did quite a lot of exploring for me, as in Granada all drinks come with a free tapa. I munched on eggplant with honey, gazpacho, Portuguese-style cod, scallops with the tiniest French fries I’ve ever seen, and the ill-advised choices of blood sausage and chicken liver. Tapas in Granada are best served with a large dose of flamenco guitar, which I found in the hands of our hostel’s chef while he nonchalantly cooked enough paella for thirty.

Despite my half-hatched plan to study in Granada in the spring instead of going home to California, I felt so happy to return to Madrid. Because Madrid, as my señora said with a raise of her eyebrows and phew-you-are-crazy-to-disagree shake of her head, is Madrid. More than ever, I felt at home when I stepped off the metro at my stop, in my neighborhood, in what feels like my city. I’m getting more and more accustomed to Spain every day, and though my trip this weekend made my want to sling my backpack over my shoulder and hit every city in Europe for a few months, my new roots here are precious. Just make sure you see Granada. She’s magic. California, maybe I’ll visit you during my spring break.