Discovering Granada

Rachel Thompson
April 11, 2014

One of my favorite things about Barcelona is all that it has to offer. We’ve got the beach, a multitude of restaurants, places to hike, beautiful architecture and vibrant nightlife.

But take a short flight to Andalucía, Spain’s southern region, and it feels almost like an entirely different country, complete with Moorish architecture and small plazas. I went to Granada this past weekend on a field trip with IES and was amazed by what I saw.

The city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and has a small, beautiful center with flowers hanging from lamp posts. We started our tour with a walk up to the top of the city, up small cobblestone alleys and past white houses with gardens. Once we’d climbed a bit, we had a stunning view of La Alhambra, the city’s signature attraction.

Looking out the bus window at the Sierra Nevada mountains

An IES Abroad staff member led us on a group run in the evening beside the river and up onto a trail. The course sloped upward with no end in sight and some parts were so steep we had to hike. We hit a few dead ends, but the landscape was stunning as the sun set. We ducked under branches and ran on our toes through the narrow parts of the trail. It was one of the most amazing runs I’ve ever gone on and a great way to see more of the city.

The group after our run through the city

After a breakfast buffet at the hotel on Saturday, we taxied to the Alhambra for a tour. There was so much to see, including the walls, gardens and the interior of the palace with different colored tiles and Arabic carvings on the walls. We then made our way to the Palacio de Generalife, which was used as a summer palace for the kings of Al-Andalus. It was full of spring flowers and elegant fountains.

La Alhambra!

We had some free time on Sunday to explore the markets, which were full of vendors selling lamps, ceramics and tapestries. Then we went to the Arab bath, my favorite part of the weekend. The bath’s interior was dimly lit and adorned with stunning Moorish arches and multicolored tiles. We put on our swimsuits and dipped into the various pools and scoped out the steam room. There were tea kettles with the delicious mint Moroccan tea, and we all got massages. I tried to think of a word in Spanish to describe how nice it felt so I could tell the masseuse. “Magnífico” was the best I could do.

Entrance to the Arab bath

One of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience has been not only getting to know my own city but also discovering other parts of Spain. It’s such a beautiful and diverse country full of surprises around every cobblestone street corner. Learning the variations of Spanish culture has really enriched my experience in Barcelona and enhanced my appreciation for the country I chose to study abroad in.

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Rachel Thompson

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi there! I&#39;m a California native studying journalism in one of the coolest cities in the world, at The University of Texas at Austin. I&#39;m a fan of chocolate, watching sports (go Giants), nice people, anything vintage and pretty much all music. I write as much as I can, whether it&#39;s a news article, a blog, or just a journal entry. When I&#39;m not writing, I love to run, try new recipes in my little kitchen, take dance classes and catch up with friends. My goal is to see every continent someday. I&#39;m getting there!</span></p>

2014 Spring
Home University:
University of Texas - Austin
Explore Blogs