I arrived to Granada about a month ago. I came here to do a 10 month volunteering project with the organization called Las Niñas del Tul, working to promote Erasmus+ and EVS projects, as well as developing some of my own initiatives. You can read more about the project here. I want to now talk a bit about my first impressions of the city and more importantly, to recount some of the small adventures I’ve been on in the last month.
I knew I loved Granada – I’ve been here before multiple times, but it was still full of surprises and I am very, very impressed by it each and every day. The historical center is amazing, of course the Alhambra, the old buildings, the Albaicín are all fantastic, but the best thing is just how lively and eclectic the whole place is.
There are of course some things that took a while to adjust to – like that the sun rises after 8 am this time of the year, so going out for a run before sunrise doesn’t actually require getting up that early. But the schedule is also quite different here than what I’m used to. Everything starts later, meals happen later, you meet your friends later... I’ve had people say “Good afternoon!” at 20:30, not kidding! It’s especially funny to experience this change after living in the UK, where most pubs close at 23:00. Here that’s the time when you go out for the first beer of the night with your friends. Even if Spain is in the same time zone as Budapest, the “Spanish Time Zone” is definitely a thing.
Guadix Culinary Trip
A friend of ours signed us up to a free trip to Guadix organized by the regional government. I’ve been to Guadix before and the place blew me away. It’s a bit like Tatooine, with crazy sandstone formations and houses built inside of it. However, now we experienced a very different side of it. Kürsat and Hanna (the two other volunteers with Las del Tul), a bus full of university freshers and I headed off to something quite unexpected.
The first stop was a bread and cheese-making workshop, where we actually had to make our own bread and cheese, which was quite a surprise, but also very entertaining. We then went to a vineyard to see how modern-day Spanish wine is made, then of course had a nice lunch and tasted the wines from the area. The final stop was an olive oil factory, which was very impressive and modern. Sadly, we didn’t really see much of Guadix itself, but it’s a quick trip away from Granada, so we can be back later!
I bought a bike to explore the area around Granada and to go on a few longer trips too. It’s a simple trekking bike from Decathlon, but I really like it. The first proper shakedown run I took it on was a nice little trip up to Güéjar Sierra, which is a quaint little village not far from Granada. It requires pedaling up a bit of elevation, but the road is beautiful, following the Genil river. There is a big reservoir before Güéjar Sierra, which looks really pretty, sitting between the steep hills.
Güéjar Sierra is a great place to start further adventures from, as it is a hub for MTB and hiking trails, as it is just situated in a beautiful area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. There is also some quite interesting history here, with a tram line that used to run to the Sierra Nevada from Granada between 1925 and 1974. You can now bike and hike along part of its route and the old stations are still there. I’ll definitely be back here a lot!
Sierra Nevada Hike
The Sierra Nevada is the third highest mountain range in Europe (after the Caucasus and the Alps), so of course I had to get up there as soon as possible! However, getting there is not as easy as it seems… If you just want to do a day trip to the highest peaks, the best option is to drive up a bit. Since I don’t have a car, I had to take the bus: there is one leaving Granada and going up at 9 am and it heads back down at 5 pm. Now that doesn’t give you a lot of leeway! If you miss it, you are stuck up there for a day…
But anyway, I caught the bus up and just had an easy day doing some initial exploring. I walked from the ski resort up to Veleta, which is the second highest peak at 3394 meters. That is an easy and popular hike, with splendid views towards the rest of the mountain range. The peak itself is a pretty scary cliff on the one side, but the approach from the other is side is not too difficult. There is a road up almost to the top, so some really hardcore bikers cycle all the way up. Someday maybe I’ll have the leg muscles for that…
I also took a look at the nearby mountain shelter, since I planned to be back up and exploring more on some multi-day hikes and I’d be using these shelters. They are pretty nice and free to use. The one under Veleta also came with a cheeky mountain goat that was eyeing my lunch for a while. It was pretty entertaining company!
Since then, I’ve been back up in the Sierra Nevada on a 3-day 60 km hike, which was pretty crazy, but that adventure deserves its own blogpost.
I was also very happy, because for the first time ever, I saw a Santana PS-10, the Spanish equivalent of the Land Rover Defender. The story of Spanish-built Land Rovers, and then how Santana split from Land Rover has intrigued me a lot and I even wrote a blogpost about it about half a year ago! Read that post here.
Now this one is just bragging – it is amazing how easy it is to get to some nice hills in Granada. The Dehesa del Generalife is the area behind the Alhambra and is just an easy place to get to from the city, yet it offers some proper hiking! The views are great towards Sacromonte and it’s just an awesome getaway.
Rio Genil Valley
Biking to Güéjar Sierra, I already saw a bunch of interesting places along the Rio Genil, which I decided to return to now that I have the drone back. There is a great bike path along the river, but you can bike on the road as well. I’ve never seen drivers being as courteous with bikers as here – and it’s very much the opposite of what happens within Granada. I found an abandoned building complex that is linked to the old quarry near Los Pinillos, so I flew my drone there and explored some other bits too.
Granada and the surrounding area is just amazing – every time I go on a little trip walking or biking somewhere, I just get ideas to go to more and more places. There is just so much to see and experience here and I’m very excited to keep exploring!