Birthdays have been celebrated in this area of Spain for over 7,000 years so we thought it would be a great place to celebrate one of our own. And what a birthday celebration it was!
This week we are celebrating a birthday in the very warm, very photogenic and very charming city of Granada. Granada is located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the region of Andalusia and, since the temperature is in the mid-90°’s F (30°’s C), we were surprised to see snow on the peaks above us. We were pleasantly surprised at the strong Moorish history and influence found in Granada which adds to the attraction and charm of this captivating city. We booked an apartment in the heart of the Albayzín (or Albaicín) with an amazing view of the Alhambra; what a great place to celebrate a ‘cumpleaños’.
The word “granada” translates to “pomegranate” in English and it is the official motif of the city. We have spotted the pomegranate in churches and buildings, on street signs and addresses, furniture, art, jewelry, pottery, statues, fountains and embedded into pavement, cobblestone, and roads and even on manhole covers and fire hydrants. We have been enjoying Granada for a couple of weeks now and we cannot help but see the ubiquitous pomegranate everywhere.
Unfortunately the delicious fruit is not currently in season, so we rarely see it as part of a meal. It is such an interesting and unique symbol so a small piece of pomegranate jewelry seemed an appropriate birthday gift.
So what else did we do to celebrate? About a dozen years ago we toured Florence, Italy on a Segway. It was a great way to visit Florence! Back then our Segway tour was 3 hours long and it would have taken us 9 hours to walk to the same places. We thought we would try that again here so we signed up for a Segway tour of Granada. This city is built on a couple of big hills and on the Segway we were able to ride up high above the city and visit some outstanding viewpoints we would not have visited otherwise.
Another birthday treat was a visit to a relaxing Arab Bath. Some of the oldest Arab baths in Spain can be found here. Arab baths include different pools in separate rooms, each at a different temperature; cold, warm, hot/steam. We spent a few hours in this luxurious setting enjoying the various baths, aromatherapy and sipping a lovely cool sweet tea before experiencing a wonderful massage. It was such a peaceful way to spend the afternoon.
And speaking of tea, Granada has beautifully decorated tea houses galore as well as numerous shops that sell bulk teas, herbs and spices. We stopped in to absorb the ambiance and enjoy the flavors of a typical Granada tea service.
No birthday celebration is complete without a special birthday dinner. However, making reservations for dinner in Granada can be challenging and the best restaurants require them. To make a reservation online you normally have to email the restaurant and then wait a day or two (or more) for a response. Alternatively, most people call the restaurant to make a reservation, but the restaurant needs to be open (many restaurants open and close twice each day on a varied schedule) and it really helps if you speak Spanish. And, an added complexity for us, we need to be connected via WiFi in order to make calls. In the end it was easiest for us to simply visit the restaurant a few days in advance and make the reservation in person.
Ultimately it was worth the effort as we dined outside on a lovely patio, beneath a large persimmon tree, with striking views of the Alhambra. The waitress even added a candle to the slice of carrot cake we shared. How fun! If you have read our previous blog [The Tastes of Spain] then you know that after each meal you are invited to try a small digestive. We tried a lovely Vino de Naranja or ‘orange wine’. Delicious! It was a special finish to a special day of birthday celebrations.
Maybe we planned too many experiences for one day but as we get older it seems only right that our birthday celebrations should continue for a week or more. Wouldn’t you agree?
— Ted & Julia
(click on any picture to go to slideshow view)