Granada with kids is great….just take your time.
Granada kind of presented itself naturally on our route from Salamanca to the south coast of Spain. Chris and I have been before, 11 years ago when Harriet was Libby’s age, but our two youngest have never visited. We did a search for overnight stops close to the city centre but then decided that we’d prefer to relax and stay a few days so we checked into ‘Camping Alto de Vinuelas’ 18kms away.
There is a lovely view of the Sierra Nevada from the campsite and there’s a bus stop immediately outside, so for €1.70 each you can be in the centre of Granada or the old quarter, El Albaicín within about 20 minutes. (edit from Chris: that’s €1.70 for 20 minutes on an air conditioned coach, not a boneshaker bus AND with beautiful views on the way down into town).
We decided to check out the Albaicín on one day and the Alhambra on the next rather than try to squeeze it all into one visit. (Edit from Chris: This is not the whole truth. Like idiots, we had decided to squeeze it into one day but there were no Alhambra tickets available for Tuesday…so we had an accidental win through an enforced ‘slowing down’).
This was a wise choice/fortunate outcome, as there is a LOT of walking to be done and our feet were throbbing after exploring the beautiful cobbled streets of the old quarter, soaking up the views of the Alhambra from across the valley and wandering down to the river. We then followed the river downstream, past Plaza Nueva and explored the little alleys around the cathedral, which were bursting with a mixture of colourful Moorish fabrics, leathers and lamps as well as plenty of tourist tat (Edit from Chris: Its almost exclusively tourist tat but the streets and buildings are still worth exploring).
We’d warned the kids to watch out for the ‘Rosemary ladies’ – women who approach you and press a sprig of rosemary (or is it lavender?) into your hand and try to tell you your fortune …before demanding payment. Libby took the warning very seriously and wouldn’t let go of Chris’ hand for fear of being ‘Rosemaryed’. I told her not to worry too much as I’d been cursed by one such lady 16 years ago because I wouldn’t give her money – she told me I would never have any children – so not very accurate – especially since Harriet was 5 at the time.
After our walk we had a little time to spare before catching our bus so decided to go for drinks and tapas. We’d been told that if we wanted tapas we should go to a little street called Navas, just off the Plaza del Carmen, and indeed it is jam-packed with restaurants and pavement cafés – we sat down at one and checked the menu – and then swiftly got up and left. This place and most of the ‘tapas restaurants’ on the street seemed to be selling dishes for at least €10 each and so food and drinks for the four of us would have come to around €50 – way above our daily budget for EVERYTHING, let alone just lunch. So, having left a perplexed waiter with an empty table and four neatly replaced menus, we wandered down to the bottom of the street until we came across a little, slightly rougher looking place, that offered free tapas with our drinks – we had 6 drinks and 6 delicious (and pretty generous) tapas between us which was enough to keep us going and it came to just €14 – much more our sort of price! We recommend it.
The following day we visited the Alhambra – if you are visiting Granada it has to be done – I could wax lyrical about its beauty and the intricacy of the decoration, but I wouldn’t do it justice – it just has to be seen really. One thing I will say about it is that October is a great time to go, our last visit was in July and we were all flagging in the heat. The October weather in Granada was warm and sunny but comfortable – much better weather for making children walk miles!
Oh, the other piece of advice is to arrive early, even if you’ve booked tickets online because they do seem to like to make you queue up for things at the Alhambra and there will be a time slot for entering the palaces which you have to stick to. We didn’t get to show the kids all of the Alhambra because they were getting tired and hungry, but they got to see the ‘best bits’ and were suitably impressed. With aching feet, we wandered back to the bus and stopped en route for more tapas – this time in an area frequented by students, always a good bet if you’re on a budget. The kids wolfed down some smoked salmon and cream cheese things, Chris had a cerveza and I had a cafe con hielo – not because I’m virtuous but because I’m taking part in ‘Sober October’ for charity. I can’t tell you how much I wanted a cold beer after all that walking …well I can – it was a LOT. Loads. Mucho.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote:
“How lazily the sun goes down in Granada, it hides beneath the water, it conceals in the Alhambra”
I can tell you one thing for sure – he didn’t get that poetic by drinking cafe con hielo…