Tuesday, 13 September 2011

You've Got Me Under Your Spell.....

Granada........hired a car from Avis at Granada rail station for a few days as I had to collect J from Almeria airport last Friday morning  but return her to Malaga airport for the return flight yesterday. Finding the rail station was a prize pain. For some reason - no doubt Ad revenue connected - Google Maps has changed and is now awkward to use and a bit of a pest. I therefore relied on my nose and stumbled around early morning, rising heat, waking Granada searching for the rail station.  It's not far from the Bull Ring (Plaza de Torros) , an impressive sort of place if you like that kind of thing - which I don't.

I forgot to take a camera with me, which was a pity. Maybe next time.  I had to rise at 05:30 to feed Charlie, water Jack and hustle down to the village centre for the 06:15 bus to the city. A three hour run took me through many small towns and villages I knew of but had never visited. So all in all it was an interesting trip and inexpensive at just over eight euros.

Granada is a city we've visited many times previously. It's vibrant, attractive in parts and has a definite feeling of youthful vitality. Or, at least, so it seemed to me as I wandered the streets, mostly around the central University district heading for the station. Or so I hoped!  I think we'll be revisiting it again in future.

I returned the hire car and came back on the evening bus yesterday, which shaved about 30 minutes off the morning run, thankfully!

The holiday season is now officially over here. Swimming pools have closed down for the year; tourists are not so numerous and locals are looking out their thick, heavy-duty dark clothes and Trilbies in readiness for the rigours of winter.  They don't know what it's really about, for my money!

The village, at about 1300 metres, does get a sprinkling of snow on accassion, and rain in winter - usually limited to a few days or so in January or November. After too many years in northern Scandinavia, I find it's still summery here - 34 degrees yesterday in Granada - and will stick to my usual outfit of shorts, short-sleeves, sunspex  and deck-shoes for a while yet.

To my surprise, I find myself beginning to appreciate life here. I'd expected to dislike it and want to move quickly. Instead, it's growing on me by the day. The weather, now we're beyond the hottest summer months of July and August, no doubt has something to do with this.  J retires in mid-December and has only about 30 working days  remaining. So she too is looking forward to getting out here and relaxing. She is a keen skier, and plans days out at Pradollano,  http://sierra-nevada.costasur.com/en/Pradollano.html ,the Spanish ski resort in the mountains above Granada - and above here. It's about 1.5 hours away by car and she's done it many times before.  She hopes to take both our daughter, LVP, and Grandsprog Hamish out there in February sometime.  I've never been taken by the idea of slithering around on bits of wood on a mountain in deepest winter, personally speaking.

The growing season is nearing its end, though we still have loads of Chillis to pick and the Aubergines are also doing well, still growing strongly together with a few Tomatoes. The Cucumbers were largely a waste of time and effort this year. The Peppers have been good and are also still growing.

A home-grown veggie curry thing, made with my own fair mitts!

The Med remains a tempting possibility at around 45 minutes drive from the house, and I expect we'll spend more time down at the coast once J has retired.  The villages within easy striking range are largely Spanish in nature with few outsiders - Brits, Germans or Dutch, in other words - visiting. There are also some decent markets and restaurants down there that we know of. 

There is also, of course, the extraordinary 'Alhambra' to visit just outside Granada. We'll leave that till winter as otherwise it can get a bit crowded and needs to be booked in advance etc. The city is also one of the strongholds of traditional Flamenco, which can still be found in a few - increasingly shrinking - places. It's my understanding that Seville, along the coast to the West, is a better bet for both Flamenco and great Tapas these days. So, again, we plan to take some time out there, probably early in the New Year. 

Tapas is of course a Spanish institution: in this area it's still usually provided automatically and free of charge when a beer or other booze is ordered in most local bars. It can be variable ranging from greasy belly porky things - that I refuse to eat - to delightful small, lightly sauteed/fried fishy bits that can be excellent. The olives that tend to accompany most Tapas are usually pretty good too. As is the home-cured Serrano ham.

J returns in only a few days, flying into Malaga again on Friday where car-hire has been arranged to get her up here into the hills. She will be coming out again in the first week of October with our new, used car - a Renault Kangoo, a van with windows, and hopefully a lot like the old Renault 4s which we had and still remember with rose-tinted pleasure.

If nothing else, it will be good for her to stop travelling. The costs alone are pretty horrendous, and it's tiring and time-consuming. Being an international commuter just ain't all it's cracked up to be!


  1. I think I could get used to that, given time. And - Renault 4s!! My first very own all to myself car!! It was dark blue...

  2. I found commuting 20 miles was bad enough! (especially when it took an hour, by car!) Looks like you have enjoyable times ahead..but pity that the swimming pools have closed.

  3. Just discovered your blog from The Barefoot Crofter. Between us my husband and I have lived in France, Austria and Sweden, so I'll follow your posts with interest.
    Love the Renault Kangoo! We hired one in France last summer and it was so practical. Teenage daughter was rather horrified at its lack of cool when we picked her up in it from her French friends' house.