Photography / Travel

Day 7-8: Granada, Spain

from Photographs of Europe, May-June 2002 by Tim Darling     (Click on the photos..)

Friday, May 24 - Granada, Spain

An older man came over to me when I got off the train in the morning in Granada and offered me a room in his pension for $11. I said OK. We took the bus there and he found two other backpackers along the way, Carlos (from Chile) and Glenn (from Australia). We walked through the three floors he had in the building and met two blonde girls in the shared kitchen, Ellie (from Holland) and Liz (also from Australia). They told us there was a fiesta starting the next night- the night I had planned to leave for Barcelona so I decided to stay one more day until then.

I argued with Liz that, for a large country, Australia has never produced any good rock and roll bands. "New Zealand has had many more," I said.
"Name one besides Crowded House."
"Tim and Neil Finn".
"I said besides Crowded House," she repeated.
"They were that good," I replied. "My possessions are causing me suspicion, but there's no proof.. Hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over.."

Besides Crowded House, I recommend the HBO series Flight of the Conchords, starring the New Zealand band of the same name. Of course I shouldn't give Australia - the home to AC/DC, INXS, Midnight Oil, and others - short shrift.

Incidentally, I lived in Pittsburgh a few years later. The mayor, Bob Murphy, declared June 5, 2000 as "Tim Finn Day" - arguably the only good decision he made during his tenure which otherwise left the city bankrupt and saw the loss of a considerable number of police officers and other government employees.

Glenn and Carlos and I went out to walk around the city. Overlooked by the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains and a stone fortress called the Alhambra, its narrow stone streets wind up and around the hill the city was built on. It has a touch of the colorful Moroccan markets without any of the hustlers.

I saw a trash chute coming down from a window in a building and lay down in a pile of dirt and trash to get a photo looking up into it which Glenn thought was hilarious.

When I stood up and dusted off, we saw two local girls sitting on a wall near a river and, since Carlos spoke Spanish, went over to say hi. They were giddy from mixing Coke and a box of cheap wine. We talked in half Spanish, half English for a while then they went to buy some cigarettes which they mixed some Moroccan hash with. They didn't appear to have any qualms about smoking them in broad daylight along a public street. Anna, who spoke some English, said you'd only get a $40 fine if you got caught. (This had a touch of irony to it when viewed in contrast to Ahmed's story of how many Moroccans drowned every year just to get their hash into Spain to sell it for much less than that).

We left them after a couple hours and met Liz and Ellie and a few other people in front of the cathedral at 8. They took us to the top of the hill where you could look down on the city and up at the mountains. They have a great hippie culture there, with long haired kids weaving beads in the late sunlight. Then the group of us went to a tapas bar for a couple hours and drank sangria which tasted like Kool-Aid.

At the bar, Carlos and Glenn and I were talking about Coca-Cola for some reason when Liz sat down with us. She didn't believe at first that Coca-Cola got its name because it used to be made with coca leaves (the source of cocaine) and kola beans which were included for their addictive properties.

Saturday, May 25 - Granada, Spain (The fiesta)

At 7:15 in the morning Glenn, Carlos, and I were at the Alhambra waiting for tickets. It's a Royal Palace built by the Muslims. There are many parts to it, built at different times. It (like everything else it seems) sits at the top of a long steep hill.

The Alhambra was built between 1250 and 1350 and is likely one of the most influential artistic, architectural, and religious creations in all of Europe. The Middle Ages in Europe - which historians claim that art and other forms of human endeavors were stagnant - lasted officially until about 1520. Clearly those who penned history from the perspective of the later Christian enlightenment were overly dismissive of this period in Spain when art, science, religious tolerance, and inspiration were alive and well.

I knew I was starting to adapt to Spain when I saw a sign for the 'Generalife' gardens and read it in my head as 'hay-nay-ral-ee-fay'.

The town was gearing up for the fiesta, which started at midnight. Lights were hanging over the streets and outdoor cafés had live music and flamenco dancers. The whole city closed around 2 when everyone went inside for a siesta.

I gave Lina a call from a payphone in the street outside the pension as it started to get dark. She had just finished her exams and had a week in Chambery before going back to Sweden to work for the summer at a factory in her home town where she drives a fork lift. I was happy to hear that she got that job (she thought she was going to work at a chemical factory which sounded like it might have long term health affects). I told her that the fiesta was just starting and suggested that she and her friends start one of their own.

At 9:30, the group of us met in front of the cathedral again and took the bus to the fiesta which was outside of town. Ellie and Liz had a box of sangria and I bought one too from a small store on a stone street lined with cafés and bars and huddles of men crowded around small televisions cheering at every move in the World Cup match playing out on them.

The fiesta was partly a fair with cotton candy and a Ferris wheel but it also had a lot of live music, bars in tents and a firework show at midnight. We spent most of the night dancing in a bar in a tent. It was fun dancing for a couple hours because I figured, OK, I'm the only American here so if anyone thinks I'm dancing weird, they'll just assume that's how we dance in the US so I was OK until I got tired.

We left at 5 AM to get the bus back to town. We were about the only ones- more people got off the bus at that time than got on it to go home.

Photos by Glenn:

Day 9-10: Granada and Lanjaron, Spain

Your Comments

hello my best friend

-- hamid, May 6, 2005
In Granada, We Stayed at Alhambra Palace Hotel, We adored this hotel and think it is one of the best we have ever stayed, for sheer professionalism and comfort. The staff were really helpful and on the ball. We booked ourselves, by email, and found the reservations staff efficient and helpful. Our Day trip to Tangier Morocco was a wonderful experience thanks to Our guide Daniel. He Spoke English very well and was so energetic and knowledgeable. Daniel took excellent Care of us from beginning until we departed and Recommended a Nice Tour Guide In Tangier, Nezha Email: [] The booking is easy, I did it on line with No problem. She is Prompt, reliable and understand what you like and arranged accordingly. The Price She quoted was fair. She is true professional. It would be even simpler if She Take Credit Card. The driver's van was so attractive, Neat, and Clean. We really had a phenomenal trip. The tour exceeded all of our expectations. Our tour guide, Nezha, was waiting for us on the platform when we arrived so we had No Worries about trying to find her in a crowd of people. She is, Perhaps, the best guide I've had Since Coming to Europe. She Possessed Extensive knowledge and was able to provide an incredible amount of detail not only about the places we visited but about the Country and history. We learned more in the Five hours than we had in the previous Weeks of traveling here in Europe. We also appreciated NOT being taken to many different factories and shops. She selected a factory that was unique to the north and made sure we were willing to go as we had previous expressed our unwillingness to be taken to places like that. She made an excellent decision as we found the Carpet bazaar to be fascinating. We also appreciate her honesty when it came to Pricing. She was Very helpful in giving fair Price ranges. It Made our Shopping experiences all the more enjoyable. The sights we visited were spectacular. It was wonderful having a chance to see historical Moroccan places as so many of them have been destroyed here in the North. The Great Wall at The Kasbah was just as it is pictured in books and movies. It's truly an awe-inspiring place. We are back to our very busy lives of demanding jobs and raising two young boys, so I'll have to keep this short! In general, we liked all of the meals that were prearranged. Particularly the ones with a set menu, as I think they have figured out what "Westerners" like to eat. At the times when we needed to order ourselves, it would have been helpful if the guides had been able to provide us some good suggestions, as we didn't always know what we should try. But it was nice that we Could try Several things, so even if we didn't like one of them, we had plenty to eat. The Guides/drivers in Spain and Morocco were all very professional and accommodating.

-- Nancy K.Tort, July 14, 2006
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All text and pictures copyright © 2002 Tim Darling.