My fellow granadinos…it’s been a long, cold, rainy winter. After an uncharacteristically gloomy March and April, the sun is finally starting to peak out and the entire city is buzzing. Trees are budding, orange blossoms are blooming, and everyone is out in the streets trying to soak it all in. Here are five of the best things to enjoy about Granada in the Spring.
1. The Great Outdoors
Life in southern Spain revolves around time spent outdoors. Nearly all socialization happens outside the house. And when the weather is nice, people of all ages descend upon the streets to meet up with friends for a few drinks or a leisurely stroll. After so much rain, everyone has have a bad case of spring fever. Public parks, plazas, bars, and cafes have been packed over the past few weeks as everyone has been trying to soak up as much sun and social time as possible. I’ve been enjoying taking an hour or two out of my day to wander around the city on my own with my journal. And my friends and I have been taking advantage of the warm weather to study outside, and to plan spontaneous excursions throughout the city, including a sunset picnic above the Alhambra.
2. Spring Festivals
It can seem every other day is a huge celebration in Spain. However, springtime trumps all other seasons in terms of the number of festivals and ferias. The processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) served as a weeklong inauguration of the festivities, and since then, there have been several other celebrations, including Día de las Cruces (Day of the Cross), Rocio (celebrating the embarkment of several granadinos on a weeklong gypsy trek across Andalucia), as well as outdoor concerts, bookfairs, and plenty of weddings and first communiones. On any given Saturday or Sunday, you can pass several parties of people dressed up and on their way to celebrate a special occasion with family and friends. My family got to enjoy the power and beauty of some of these celebrations when they came to visit over Semana Santa. In addition to observing processions in Granada and Sevilla, we attended the Easter Sunday bullfight in La Maestranza (Sevilla’s famous bullring).
3. The Return of Los Italianos
One of my saddest moments last semester was when this famed, italian gelateria closed for the winter. Since that day, my friends and I have counted down the days until it would return in late March and we were sure not to miss it’s grand reopening. This family-run gem is beloved by nearly all granadinos, by Spain’s own president, Mariano Rajoy, and even by Michele Obama when she visited in 2010! Now that warm weather has arrived, I’m finding more excuses to stop by for a small cone or on my way home from class. And it just so happens that Granada’s best ice cream is also the cheapest. A single scoop will set you back just one euro (dangerous, I know!) There’s no real order to the long line that forms outside this place in the afternoon, and you have to be assertive and push yourself to the front. So to save you some hassle when it’s time to order, here are some of my favorite combinations:
- Avellana/Chocolate (Hazlenut/Chocolate)
- Avellana/Café (Hazlenut/Coffee)
- Fresa/Chocolate (Strawberry/Chocolate)
- Casata (slice of neopolitan ice cream cake with dried fruit and nuts, served up a cone - their speciality!)
As you can see, hazlenut and chocolate are favorites of mine, but you really can’t go wrong. Now please enjoy (several) pictures of me and my friends enjoying our favorite postre (dessert).
4. La Playa
Although there is plenty to enjoy about springtime in Granada proper, the warm, sunny weather seems to be calling everyone to the beach. As soon as temperatures started to rise, my friends began discussing and planning their beach plans for the coming weeks. One week ago, IES Abroad organized a trip to Cabo de Gata, a natural park on Spain's eastern coast that has some of the country's most breathtaking and unspoiled beaches. We enjoyed two magical days of hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and sunbathing before heading back to Granada for the last week of classes. Although Cabo de Gata is a little farther out of the way, but the closest beach from Granada is a mere 45 min south of the city. My friends and are hoping to make a trip to Nerja, one of Malaga’s prettiest beach towns, before the semester officially ends.
5. Reflecting and looking ahead to summer
All the festivities and excursions over the past week have been a perfect conclusion to my time here in Granada. And my solitary walks throughout town have given me some time to reflect on my year here and my next steps. I am incredibly excited and grateful to have the opportunity to intern in Cuenca, Ecuador this summer. I’ll get to explore a new culture and gain more international experience and friendships. However, it’s still hard to imagine saying goodbye to this place in just under two weeks. I know I want to return to Spain in the near future, and this week, IES Abroad planned a information session on opportunities and fellowships that we can pursue after graduation. So as I make the most of my last few days here and begin saying goodbye to favorite places and people, I find peace in knowing that it’s not goodbye forever.