Going from Seville to Granada was like going from Cinderella to Aladdin: a night and day difference but both fairytales nonetheless. I cast off the Sevillan glass slippers and instead donned the practical yet fantastical Arabian way of life found in Granada. I think the most striking difference would be the streets. In Granada, merchandise spilled out from the tiny corner stores, filling the streets with Arabian styled lanterns, sacks of teas and spices, prayer mats, leather purses and genie lamps. Store owners hawked at the wandering tourists, enticing them with cheap prices or authentic ware.
In Granada I had the best falafel I’ve ever had in my life. You could tell by the shabby and falling-apart exterior that this place was the real deal. The tortilla was warm and freshly made, filled with crisp onions, pickled cabbage, falafels, mint and a tasty green hummus that tasted as rich and thick as mashed potatoes. How does one expect me to go back to the Pita House in Grand Rapids after this masterpiece? Granada is also famous for its tea houses, where you sit on the ground or low benches stacked with pillows and drink tea out of painted cups and silver tea pots. I ordered a blackberry tea, which filled my stomach with warmth and satisfaction for hours later.
Besides the food, we also toured some amazing sites. We visited La Alhambra, a palace and fortress created on top of old Roman ruins. Once again it was modeled after typical Moorish style, filled with fine filigree and colorful patterns. The funniest part to me was the sheer number of feral cats wandering the Alhambra. You couldn’t walk more than 500 feet without seeing another cat, bathing in the sunlight or weaving its way through the crowd.
That night we had the opportunity to go to a Flamenco show, which was as lively as it sounds like. It took place in a small room, where there was barely enough room for two people to walk side by side. The band came out to sing and play their instruments as we waited in anticipation for the Flamenco dancers. The dance was a flurry of foot stomping, fury, passion and ‘Ole!’s. The control of their feet was phenomenal, and I felt tired enough just watching them. We left the next morning for a short visit to Toledo, and then to the capital city: Madrid.