Nov 29, 2009

Photo Essay: Granada pt.2, a day wandering around Sacromonte

She beckons us, her old wrinkled face mournful yet grinning, her floral dress fluttering in the breeze. Like a picture of a grandma from storybooks on gypsies, she gives me and M a sprig of fresh rosemary each for luck before quickly taking my hand and telling me my fortune in rambling incoherent Spanish. Without pause she grabs M's hand and tells him he has a beautiful girlfriend and makes the usual prediction that our relationship will be enduring. We are charmed but know her open palm will soon demand payment for her performance. We figure this "magical experience" is worth 2 Euros. [an aside: that I now, a mere two years later, stand in the cold ashes of this "enduring" relationship, I think, is a testimony to the veracity of Gypsy fortune-telling in general and this fortuneteller in particular.]

Granada is a vibrant young university town with free tapas, plenty of nightlife and it bustles with tourists hoping to conjure history and romance. This is a place where gypsies can and do take full advantage of their well-known mystique, which clearly glitters in the eyes of tourists, and quickly part them from their euros in return for palm readings and a sprig of rosemary. In the narrow labyrinth streets on Christmas night we also saw a witch in a filthy dress and matted hair cursing and spitting on an upside down framed picture of Christ on the cross. Such are the passions and mysteries of this city which enflame the imagination.

With its the old Arab quarter of Albaicín and Gypsy caves, Sacromonte (Holy Mountain) is an enchanting place to spend the day wandering and getting lost.

Wandering up the hill:
Granada, gypsy home, alhambra and sierra
A gypsy cave house on Sacromonte.

On Summer nights this area comes alive with castanets, strumming guitars and strutting dancers. This tourist trap is called a Zambra. Fortunately, since we were here in winter, it was quiet and no gypsies emerged to sell us their wares.
Granada, gypsy cave
A gypsy cave with two chimneys near the old wall.
Granada, home sweet home
A gypsy cave, campfire, and assortment of furniture.

Granada, sacromonte vista
A spectacular view of the Alhambra and mountains from the top of sacromonte.

Granada, no dogs allowed
At the gate to the Museo de Sacromonte... a dog skull with a gypsy cave in the background.

Granada, Sacromonte
Along Camino del Sacromonte.

Wandering around Albaicín:
Staircase leading to a school in Albaicín
Granada, home garden
A garden in Albaicín with a collection of charming ceramic plates typical of the area.
Near the Mirador de San Nicolás in Albaicín.

Wandering west of Albaicín:

The bazaar near calle Elvira

Strolling along the Darro river:
Granada, Carrera del Darro at sunset

Carrera del Darro, known as the most romantic street in Granada, at sunset.

Back to the hostel:

A view of the cathedral from our hostel's rooftop at sunset.

All photos by me, taken around Christmas time 2007.

For the next post in this series on Granada, I'm posting a photo essay on the amazing urban art that covers the stairway to Mirador S. Cristobol. So stay tuned.


Te said...

I went to Granada after two nights of all night drinking and a total of 2 hours sleep. It wasn't a good decision. I miss out on everything, ate a delicious paella and was sick the rest of the trip. However, even in the daze-like, hung over stated I was in, I was still amazed at how much I loved Granada, the whole laid back vibe- it's like the Spanish vibe taken to the next level.
I wasn't so impressed by the dogs which could pass as horses, the were bigger than me.

I was really intrigued by stories of the caves but didn't get a chance to see them, next time!

Beautiful photos. Your post has made me want to go back, now!

Shehani said...

Thanks Te! Granada is definitely a special place that deserves a somber and energetic visit. As for the laid back vibe, well my current roomie's from Granada so I know all about laid back taken to the next level.... especially when it comes to our cleaning chores...

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