I am in love with Granada. For so many reasons Granada has become, and has thus far remained, my favorite place in Spain. Why? Well for several reasons.
First, let’s talk about the definition of a Tapa or Tapas.
According to Wikipedia, “Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or hot. In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine.”
In Barcelona, tapas are just that, delightful little snacks. Usually containing some form of potatoes, bread and Jamon Iberico (aka the best ham you will ever consume).
However, in Granada the word tapas takes on an entirely different meaning. Granada is the birthplace of the tapa but tapas are not just little snacks here. They can be entire meals of anything, paella included. When you say tapas in Granada, you are actually talking about a plate of food served as a “thank you” for ordering a drink.
That means for every drink you order, you will receive a free snack, or in some cases meal. Yes that is right I said FREE. Nothing is free you say? Well when I spend two dollars on a “Tinto de Verano” (wine mixed with juice) and come out with dinner too it feels free, if not just incredibly cheap.
Okay cool Cara, free food, but what is so special about Granada?
Aside from the copious amounts of free food I consumed during my stay in Granada, the Arab influence in Granada makes it unique from the rest of Spain.
We had the opportunity to go to a Hammam (Arab bath) and it was an experience so unique I wish I could relive the whole thing.
Upon arrival, I walked into the Arab baths and was guided to a room to change into my swimsuit. I was then ushered to a room with five different pools all with varying temperatures. The rooms had ornate tile decor and carvings on the ceilings.
We were invited to spend two hours in the “spa” and receive a massage followed by laying on a hot stone. We were also able to try Moroccan Mint Tea, which was absolutely to die for.
Aside from this experience, we were able to tour the Alhambra, a palace that has grown and endured through many different reigns.
We spent a great deal of time walking through the maze of the Verea Caves. A neighborhood of gypsy houses carved into the side of the mountain and painted white to improve the appearance. As minimal as these caves are, I was able to see the vast differences between the Spanish Gypsies and the Gypsies in Romania who live in shanty homes in gardens unsafe to venture in.
Most of all though, I loved Granada because of its proximity to nature. Granada lies in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. You can smell the fresh mountain air throughout the city and the quaint “river” (more like creek) that runs through town adds to the unending charm of the city. This was a place I look forward to returning to.