Tag Archives: Granada

el albaycin, alhambra, granada, spain

Win FREE Flights to Granada!

This is a slightly modified reblog of a post from Cheeky Jaunt – a new, part-time travel blog that desperately wants you to enter its one-off giveaway:

A return flight to Malaga (with bus transfer to Granada) and 3 nights’ accommodation!!

 

omg cat Win FREE Flights to Granada!

I kid you not. All you have to do to enter into the draw is:

1. ‘Like’ Cheeky Jaunt on Facebook.

2. Share the original blog post on Facebook (or Twitter via @CheekyJaunt) with your own personal tagline.

3. Subscribe to Cheeky Jaunt, either via Email, RSS or WordPress (I promise I won’t spam you).

4. Register that you have entered on Rafflecopter by clicking here.

 

The return flight would be with an airline of my choice from any UK or Spanish airport that flies direct to Malaga (please go to rafflecopter.com for all of the terms and conditions of the giveaway).

The accommodation will be provided by the fun, funky and friendly White Nest Hostel, one of Hostelworld’s and TripAdvisor’s top-rated with 85% and 90% respectively. It is nestled within the lower part of the famous Albaícin barrio of Granada and offers incredible views of the stunning Alhambra Palace, daily excursions (all free), very clean and comfortable beds/facilities and an enviable atmosphere. I have stayed at this hostel myself and was extremely happy with my experience. Click here to read some of past guests’ glowing reviews.

 

In case you need persuading, there is a glut of reasons for why you should enter and be in with a chance of winning a completely FREE trip to Granada – just have a poke around this blog and you’ll see. In the meantime, here are five of them, in no particular order:

The Architecture

img 28101 Win FREE Flights to Granada!

Plaza de Armas, Alhambra

Thirteen centuries ago, much of southern Spain was invaded and subsequently ruled by The Moors– a medieval, Islamic race from Northern Africa, for the best part of 800 years. During this period, Spanish customs were all but lost to Moorish practices, including the design and structuring of buildings, the absolute iconic reminder of which is The Alhambra Palace. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and regularly listed as one of those ‘Top 30 Things to See before You Die’ sort of things. This Moorish influence extends into the city too, most noticeably within the Albaícin bario, where you would be staying were you to win the prize…

The Culture

img 2627 Win FREE Flights to Granada!

Although the native Spanish Catholics retook Andalucía (Granada was the last stronghold of the Moors) way back at the end of the 15th century, much of the Arabic influence – other than the Alhambra – has stayed behind. These days, the city boasts an eclectic mix of Arabic, traditional Spanish, Gypsy and cosmopolitain cultures, which combine to create something very special indeed. There are often free parties held in the overlooking wooded area of San Miguel Alto.

The Sierra Nevada

img 0428 copy Win FREE Flights to Granada!

Not one hour down the road is Granada’s stunning mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. Here you can ski, go hiking, kayaking, rafting or just admire the views. The ski-season tends not to last as long as it does in the Alps, nor is the snow quite as fluffy and durable, but given that it is in the south of Spain, where – frankly – skiing isn’t exactly the first pastime that springs to mind, one can’t really complain.

The Beaches

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La Herradura, Costa Tropical, Granada

Oh yes. And there are beaches too – just 45 minutes away by car in the other direction. In fact, an outing to both the Sierra Nevada and the beach is possible on the same day, should you wish to take on such an endeavour. Though Granada’s beaches are stonier than they are sandy, I for one find that this isn’t necessarily a shortcoming; sand gets in your beach garb, your iPod, your lunch, your ears, your everywhere basically. Stones don’t. Salobreña (pictured) is Granada’s nearest beach, where – aside from sunbathing – you can throw yourself off big, gnarly cliffs (into the sea of course) and chow down on freshly barbecued squid for the afternoon.

The Free Food

Al Sur de Granada Win FREE Flights to Granada!

Tapas at Al Sur de Granada, Source

Tapas is something I’m sure all of you are familiar with, though free tapas might not be. Here in Granada, the locals are evidently inclined to abide by long-standing traditions, since tapas was – up until the advent of tourism – always served free with a drink. A beer or glass of wine sets you back around €2, and with that you’ll be gifted a tapa which, depending on where you go, can be anything from a thick slab of Spanish Tortilla to a Thai Chicken Curry. There is such thing as a free lunch.

So I repeat – all you have to do is:

1. ‘Like’ Cheeky Jaunt on Facebook.

2. Share the original blog post on Facebook (or Twitter via @CheekyJaunt) with your own personal tagline.

3. Subscribe to Cheeky Jaunt, either via Email, RSS or WordPress (I promise I won’t spam you).

4. Register that you have entered on Rafflecopter by clicking here.

The giveaway is already 10 days old, meaning that there are just two weeks and five days remaining (providing that the minimum number of entrants are reached). So I implore you, enter now!

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el nino de las pinturas, el niño de las pinturas, graffiti, granada, spain, españa, violin

CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

For months now, I’ve been meaning to get involved with Marianne’s (of East Of Malaga) monthly photo challenge. I suppose I hadn’t until today because I don’t really fancy myself as a great photographer. I take pictures of what I like, edit them, stick a few in a blog post slideshow and that’s about it. My thought process rarely extends beyond that. This month’s theme though – ‘Street Art’ – got me interested. I mean, how couldn’t I participate, given that we in Granada are fortuitous enough to have El Niño de las Pinturas among us. This guy has been smearing Granada’s dull, lifeless walls with his vivid and magnetising imagination for 20 years now. Exactly 20 years, in fact; a documentary about him was made and premiered last weekend in a local realejo bar (my neck of the woods). He has daubed countless pieces in that time, and to choose my two favourites has been virtually impossible! So I chose four instead. Is that cheating? Marianne? In any case, I absolutely adore the style and depth in all of them, and particularly the interpretation in the one of the giraffe. For a look at other examples of his work see my original post here.

IMG 4589 copy CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

‘Cansao de no encontrar respuesta, decidí cambiar mis preguntas’ (Tired of not finding an answer, I decided to change my questions)

IMG 4617 copy CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

La Violinista joven

IMG 4600 copy CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

El Girafe

IMG 4670 copy CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

La Violinista mayor

But the CBBH Photo Challenge is more than just an opportunity to show off your camera skills; it is a blog hop as well. The first ‘C’ and ‘B’, after all, do stand for conejo blanco (white rabbit). So each post posted in response to Marianne’s original post must include two links to two other blogs that the blogger has visited and commented on in the last month, so that his/her readers can ‘hop’ over to some unchartered corner of the frankly enormous blogosphere. It’ all about helping each other out you see. And we’re good at that in Spain.

So I will take this opportunity to direct you to Clare of Need Another Holiday. Clare’s blog, much like my own, new blog, focuses on part-time travel, as opposed to those that celebrate a nomadic and often vagrant existence. She has been all over. But mostly Greece. She absolutely loves Greece.

Secondly, I’d like to shout out to a blogger who has really wowed me with her vlog series recently. Jess, of HolaYessica!, blogs about Barcelona and various Spanish escapades. Her output rate is frankly unbelievable and her style and writing standards never falter. She’s also – fittingly – excellent with a camera. So go and say hi, and tell her that I sent you!

If you want to take part in the CBBH Photo Challenge, just head over to Marianne’s blog and read on. It’s fun and gives you a chance to share those pics that deserve to be seen!

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alpujarras, bubión, spain, españa, autumn colour, color

A Day in Las Alpujarras

At this stage of my Granadino expathood (2 years, 3 months), I really ought to have visited Las Alpujarras more than twice. Any discerning expat in Spain will attest to that. The first time was when I attended and (rather tamely) participated in the mother of all water fights in Lanjarón, to help celebrate el día de San Juan – the longest day of the year. The second outing came recently, perhaps at the best time of year to go considering the late autumn we had last year.

La Alpujarra’s unspoiled and natural beauty is as unparalleled as its unique microclimate, provoked by the constantly melting snow from above. In sharp contrast, the landscape below is much more arid and sparse.

A few facts and a little history…

  • The etymology of ‘alpujarra’ is unclear, though the most credible suggestion is that it derived from the Arabic word al-bugsharra, meaning ‘sierra of pastures’.
  • The average altitude is 4,000ft above sea level.
  • Many inhabitants of La Alpujarra descend from Galicians, after thousands were relocated from Galicia following the reconquest of Granada in 1568.
  •  Mulhacen, the highest peak in Spain at 3,482m, is contained within the mountain range.
  • It contains Trevelez, the highest village in Spain, at 4,843ft above sea level.
  • The Alpujarras covers roughly 2,500km.
  • The Mediterranean, seen easily on a clear day, is just 40km away.

The enchanting, sky-scraping region spans two Spanish provinces – Granada and Almería – and comprises around forty small mountain villages. Its history is fascinating. The Moors were the first to settle there in the late 15th century, after being driven away by Spanish Christians who had recaptured Granada. This was where they remained until a hundred or so years later, when the Christians expelled anyone of Arab descent from the Kingdom of Granada. Following that, the Christians – many of them from Galicia in the north-west of Spain – resettled in the area, though much of the traditional Moorish architecture was preserved, and still is today.

Rio Poqueira

It is, of course, impossible to explore each area of Las Alpujarras – unless you intend to stay for a longer period – so most day-trippers tend to stick with the main three tourist attractions: Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira. They are all formed on el rio poqueira – a deep, yawning valley that drops towards the neighbouring villages of Órgiva and Lanjarón. Each village is characterised by its narrow, winding streets, old-fashioned crafts shops, flat clay roofs and tall, rounded chimney pots.

We began our day with a tour of Capileira – the second highest village in Las Alpujarras – and a coffee at local bar and restaurant Casa Pilar y Paco Lopez, where we were treated to spectacular views. The village brims with colourful, wooden-beam arts & crafts stores, all filled with local goods from handwoven rugs to homemade jams.

(click for slideshow)

 

The next village heading downward is Bubión, where there are yet more arts & crafts stores, art galleries and several cafés and restaurants to cater for hungry hikers. There is also a small folk museum called Casa Alpujarreña, which was free to enter when we passed by, though the real draw – as with the neighbouring villages – is the frankly ridiculous view of the Alpujarra all around you.

If you plan on completing the circuit I’d recommend you take the steep, tumbling backstreets that lead into the woods before arriving in Pampaneira. During autumn the trees’ colours turn glorious shades of yellow, red, orange and green. And if you’re wearing orange-tinted sunglasses like I was you’ll wish you could take pictures simply by blinking your eyes.

There is supposedly an abundance of wildlife in the alpujarra – mountain goats, birds of prey and even the rare lynx are sighted often – but we were not to see any other living creature except the odd, fellow rambler and a penned herd of fat, soon-to-be-slaughtered pigs. Can’t complain though, with views like this:

(click for slideshow)

 

Our hilly walk finished in Pampaneira, where things are a bit livlier. Each bar buzzed with the sound of chatter and glasses being clinked by families and groups of friends, laughing and joking. The sun was up, the scenes were classic Spain and the beers were – at least for their brief life span – blissful. There was even a chocolate factory.  Yes, that’s right – a genuine chocolate factory – which, save for an edible theme park and a few oompa-loompas, was everything I’d expect a chocolate factory to be. Namely, there was lots of free chocolate. It’s curious how at first you act all coy and indifferent in the interest of being polite, but the minute hands start swooping in for the flavour you’ve got your hawk eyes on all such nonchalance suddenly melts away. ‘There’s only one chunk of caramel biscuit left and you can think again if you think you’re getting to it first girl of eight‘. Seriously, I actually took candy from a baby. Tasted great too.

Next came the food (chocolate didn’t count). A steakhouse by the name of El Castaño had been strongly recommended by a friend and since none of us had EVER enjoyed a good steak in Spain before we simply had to indulge. It was perhaps the best meal I’ve had in Spain yet, and if it weren’t for the impending and inevitable traipse back up to the car in Capileira, I might never have moved again.

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I’ll be back to Las Alpujarras soon, especially now since there is snow on the mountains. It’s a walkers paradise and absolutely unmissable if you are planning on visiting the Granada province of Spain.

Getting There

Given the distance between Granada and La Alpujarra (70km) I’d recommend taking a car. There are only three buses that leave from Granada per day and the first is at 10am, meaning you’ll have missed the entire morning by the time you get there. The cost, however, is probably cheaper in comparison at €11 return, though if there are four or five of you it may work out only marginally more expensive to hire a car from either Granada city centre or Granada Airport. The bus timetable is as follows:

Granada – Capileira

10.00     12.00     16.30

Capileira – Granada

07.00     16.45     18.15

All services stop at Pampaneira and Bubión too, 5-10 minutes before and after respectively. The journey takes roughly two and a half hours. Go to alsa.es to book tickets.

 

Have you been to Las Alpujarras? Which other villages would you recommend? Was this article useful?

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Fireworks, Edinburgh's Hogmanay

My Year in Review

So long 2013! You’ve been good to me. I might not have quite fulfilled every ambition I set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, but definitely most of them. I’ve seen much more of Spain, started writing editorials and publishing in Spanish, started a new blog and had more work published on other sites. I’ve also met and connected with several other bloggers who’ve given me some fantastic advice and ideas – Molly of piccavey.com for one, and Marianne of East Of Malaga another (who actually gave me the idea for this blog post).

So, without any further ado, let’s get to it.

 

Last January I was lucky enough to spend my New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh for the annual Hogmanay celebrations. Although it wasn’t my first time in the Scottish capital, it was – needless to say – a wonderful place to see out 2012, and a great opportunity to test out my new camera. Hogmanay, I’ll be back.

I was also published on Gapyear.com, with a piece about my time in Canada’s Rocky Mountains in 2009.

 

February was particularly memorable on account of the deluges of snow upon which the Sierra Nevada was bestowed. It snowed heavily several times, which made for perfect conditions and the best I’ve ever skied in Spain.

I also had my Step by Step Guide to Cadiz Carnaval published with The Olive Press. Take a look at it here!

 

In March I traveled to Ronda for the weekend which was, ironically, cut short by the same snow that I had been so thankful for in the Sierra Nevada just days before. Didn’t matter though; two days were enough and Ronda is beautiful in any kind of weather…

I also attended the annual Dragon Festival held in Santa Fe to celebrate the Spring Equinox. My review was published with Clash Magazine.

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I’ll level with you: I can’t stand Semana Santa, so when April comes around I hit the road, and this year I headed north to escape the Andalucían crowds. My journey took me to Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona. All three cities were individually fantastic and really opened my eyes to a completely different way of Spanish life.

I also had the best experience I’ve had in Granada so far: the epic Piste 2 Playa day trip, which ultimately led to the decision to stay yet another year!

 

May kicked off with one of the festivals of the year – SOS 4.8 in Murcia. I saw several of my favourite bands and DJs, including M83, Justice and The XX. Once again, I reviewed the weekend for Clash Magazine. Read it here.

I also went on the best beach trip of my Spanish stint thus far, to the tiny pueblo of Las Negras in Cabo de Gata, Almería. The town is as sleepy and charming as they come, and the beaches have actual SAND!

 

June provided me with the most fun I’ve ever had inside one hour: Lanjarón’s enormous and legendary water fight. It occurs on the night of San Juan, as does a plethora of other festivities in most other Spanish towns and cities – particularly along Spain’s south coast.

I also worked for a national British newspaper for two weeks in London. It was useful in the sense that it made me reailse that I never want to work for a national British newspaper.

 

July was a busy month, though not especially so for blogging. Instead, I was tied up with work I am actually paid to do: teaching English to foreign folk. Usually these summer schools seem like never-ending nightmares, but this year I worked for The University of Oxford who – thankfully – pay well and do not deprive you of a social life.

I did, however, find time for a fleeting visit to Nerja, a gorgeous beach town just east of Malaga. Read my feature with The Olive Press here.

img 1323 My Year in Review

Head of The River pub, Oxford

Still busy with teaching in Oxford, it wasn’t until the end of August that I had time to travel. However, I did have a lot of free time in the evenings, which spurred me on to get my brand new part-time travel blog up and running. Watch out for official launch coming soon!

Perhaps my biggest victory – other than surviving two months of teaching intensive Business English to squealing Japanese teenagers – was creating and publishing my very first post in Spanish.

 

September has been my best month for two years running now. This year and last year I kicked it off with back-to-back music festivals in Croatia (review here). Somehow, I managed not to end myself in the process and came out well enough to continue traveling through Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Hungary. Needless to say, good times were had. You can read about them on my new blog.

In October and back in Granada, the hunt for a new apartment proved more difficult than first thought. Eventually, I was able to find the perfect place just a stone’s throw away from the Alhambra. And now – for the first time ever since moving to Spain – I am completely happy with where I live and who I live with. No nasty kitchens, no miserable housemates. Only took three years.

Other than that, not much happened.

November was far more interesting. I went to Sevilla for the annual ACIEA conference, where I instagramed the place to death and finally got to see El Parasol. I also saw the Alhambra dressed in autumn colours – something I’ve wanted to do since moving to Granada. I had my first piece (another review) published in Spanish, which you can read here, and I was named among the top ten expat in Spain bloggers by Which Offshore.

8053239020 895089103c b My Year in Review

Clouds over Las Alpujarras (Source: Ramiro Ramirez FlickrCC)

Ordinarily I have myself a little holiday at the beginning of December, but this year I stayed closer to home and took a long day trip to the mountain villages of Las Alpujarras in the Granada province of Spain. There’ll be a post on that soon. I’ve also reached elementary level French, so there’s one goal more or less reached for my fourth year in Spain.

I also started collaborating on a couple of new projects, neither of which have been launched just yet but should be soon! Now here’s to further and greater success in 2014! Feliz año nuevo!

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christmas, navidad, granada, spain, españa, granada christmas lights

Hello again and Feliz Navidad!

Spain For Pleasure is back! After a week away (and what a miserable week it must have been…) the blog is up and running again, but now via Blue Host and WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com. This means that you’ll be seeing some gradual and tentative changes here over the next few weeks, all good of course.

Meanwhile, Happy Christmas! Or Feliz Navidad should I say. Back in merry old England the weather is as grim as ever, yet as ever I couldn’t give a chistera; home is exactly where I want to be at Christmas, come rain, hail, gale force winds, snow blizzards or – in the rare event – shine. Even if my Dad does insist on playing his ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas: Woodwind Pipes Version’ CD over and over and over again. That’s just me though.

Were I still in Spain I’d doubtless be very much enjoying my festive holiday. There wouldn’t be many presents – Spaniards generally don’t do theirs until Reyes Magos on January 6th (i’m told that only spoilt Spanish children receive presents on both days) – but there’s still lots of eating, drinking and pretty things to look at in the street. Granada is a shining example:

 

And then there’s Seville:

6665435139 6842267c88 b e1387929738895 Hello again and Feliz Navidad!

Christmas in Seville (Source: Sevilla Cuidad FlickrCC)

Madrid:

 

Valencia:

4206377879 ae26f939af b Hello again and Feliz Navidad!

Christmas in Valencia (Source: Joan Grifols FlickrCC)

Santiago de Compostela:

5307382237 f0320af117 b Hello again and Feliz Navidad!

Christmas in Santiago de Compostela (Source: Carlos FlickrCC)

And of course Barcelona’s twinkling Christmas Market:

 

Where are you this Christmas? Spain? What Christmas traditions have surprised you? Wherever you are, enjoy!

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sierra nevada, spain, snow, powder

Sierra Nevada Day Trip: General Info, Prices, Tips & Recommendations

I’ll be honest: ‘skiing’ and ‘Spain’ were two words I had never used in the same sentence prior to my coming here. One pertained to package holidays in the French Alps, the other to fancy football and summer breaks on the beach.  Then, several weeks into my expat journey a friend said ‘Sierra Nevada’ and that all changed.

‘What? A ski resort in southern Spain? You are joking?’ I scoffed.

‘Nope’ replied friend. ‘Not joking. Why don’t you go and see for yourself?’

So I did. Three weeks later I was peering down the front face of the Sierra Nevada from its 3400m summit, strapped into my snowboard, ready to tear my way down to the bottom. Amazing, considering just a week before I had been sunbathing in 20°+ temperatures.

Enjoyable as it was, that particular occasion had been rather a last minute and hastily organised excursion; had I not let blind excitement get in the way of better judgment I might have saved a few pennies. Truth is, a day in the Sierra is a costly one, whether you have your own equipment or not, and if you’re in Spain for a quick getaway, a whole year or indefinitely, chances are you’ll be here on a budget.

So after two years’ experience as a Sierra Nevada regular, I’ve finally cobbled together a breakdown of general info, prices, tips and recommendations, so that you can find all the information you need in one frank and friendly place.

Let’s get started.

img 8533 e1369743751332 Sierra Nevada Day Trip: General Info, Prices, Tips & Recommendations

Yours truly at The Sierra Nevada last December

General Info

 A few facts

  • The Sierra Nevada ski resort is constructed on the north side of Veleta, the third highest peak in Spain.
  • It is the most southerly ski resort in Europe and the highest in Spain.
  • The resort hosted the 1996 Alpine World Ski Championships and continues to host top-level races at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.
  • A season typically lasts from late November until early May.
  • The resort is situated 27km away from Granada and 100km away from the Costa Tropical, meaning it is possible to ski and sunbathe on the beach on the same day.
  • The lowest point of the resort is 2100m and the highest 3,398m above sea level.
  • The resort is run by a private-public enterprise called Cetursa Sierra Nevada, S.A.
  • The resort spans 100km of alpine skiing runs.
  • There are 115 runs in total: 50 red; 40 blue; 16 green and 9 black.
  • There are 2 cable cars, both of which link Pradollano to the mid-station Borreguiles, 17 chairlifts, 2 T-bar lifts and 2 magic carpets.
  • There is one superpark and a halfpipe.

(Source: Wikipedia)

img 0430 copy Sierra Nevada Day Trip: General Info, Prices, Tips & Recommendations

The Sierra Nevada, Andalucía

Getting There

There are two ways of getting to the Sierra Nevada: by car or by bus. Let’s start with the latter. Buses leave from Granada bus station for the Sierra Nevada every day. The journey takes around 50 minutes and the current timetable is as follows:

Granada – Sierra Nevada

Mon – Fri:   08.00      10.00      ——       17.00

Sat – Sun:   08.00      10.00      15.00       17.00

Sierra Nevada – Granada

Mon – Fri:   09.00      —–      16.00      18.30

Sat – Sun:  09.00      13.00      16.00      18.30

The price of a single ticket is €5, and a return €9. Tickets can either be booked in advance on alsa.es or paid for on the day, providing you arrive with plenty of time to spare. Often the queue for tickets is enormous in the half hour leading up to the scheduled departure time, particularly for the 8am bus. The last thing you want is to be slithering along at a snail’s pace while the minutes on the clock tick past. Believe me, it is an awful feeling, especially when you miss it.

If, on the other hand, you or a member of your gang owns a car, then this is a much better option. Find your way out of Granada by heading towards Calle Neptuno or, if this is too hard to find, ask a local to point you in the direction of Mae West, a nightclub whose whereabouts is known to virtually everybody. Once here, take the third exit on the roundabout so that you join the A-395 motorway, where you should keep right to ensure you are heading in the right direction (the left lane will bring you back into Granada). Eventually, you’ll begin the steep climb up to the resort, where – at least towards the top – you’ll doubtless encounter a fair bit of traffic. Carry on until you reach Pradollano, where you will be guided to the car park.

Alternatively, if you neither own a car nor want to take the bus, it might be worth considering sites like blablacar.es or amovens.es, where rides are sometimes posted by drivers looking to make a saving on petrol, the total cost of which (for a return journey) tends to be around €15. Personally, I think that hiring a car would only be worthwhile if staying the night; picking it up in the morning before leaving is a hassle and it is easily the most expensive means of transport.

img 0959 copy Sierra Nevada Day Trip: General Info, Prices, Tips & Recommendations

With friends at the end of 2012-2013 season. Yes, we’re wearing onesies.

Prices

Parking

The cost of parking your vehicle depends on what ‘season’ the resort is in. During low season, the fee is €16 for anything between 10 and 24 hours, €18 for the same during mid season and €20 during high season. If you plan to spend less than 10 hours at the resort, click here for a list of prices by the hour.

Occasionally, during the week, there are free parking spaces further up the mountain (instead of following the signs into the car park, turn left and carry on climbing), though the chance of finding one is never guaranteed.

Forfait/Subidones

As with the parking fees, the cost of a lift ticket or – as it is translated to in Spanish – un forfait, varies according to the season. All public holidays and weekends except the opening weekend (promotion prices) and during April (low season/spring prices) are categorised as high season. All weekdays except during mid December and mid January (promotion prices) are categorised as low season. The standard cost of one forfait is €45 during high season and €43 during low season, which seems a bit pointless but there you go. Click here for more details regarding prices of forfaits.

Needless to say then, the cost of a lift ticket is ludicrously expensive. If you are a student, however, you’re in luck. Just sign up to Sierra Nevada’s official web page, create a profile and attach your matrícula, which you should have received when you first enrolled at Granada University. Doing this will qualify you for a subidon, which gets you five full days for only €145 – a deal not to be missed!

Ski-hire/clothes hire

Unsurprisingly, there is an abundance of ski hire shops in the Sierra Nevada and deciding which to choose is an unwanted headache (see below for my recommendation). The cost of hiring is pretty similar across the board: for skis (with poles)/a snowboard and boots, expect to pay anywhere between €15 and €40, depending on the level of quality you opt for. Waterproof trousers can also be hired from certain places, usually for around €10-15. I’ve never come across jackets for hire, but if you don’t have a proper skiing jacket then a decent anorak with plenty of layers underneath ought to do the trick.

If you’d rather do business before arriving, there’s always the option of hiring online before you go. In theory, this should mean that you’ll beat the queues and have your equipment ready and waiting to be used.

Ski School

There are a variety of ski schools in the Sierra Nevada, all of which offer a variety of options to choose from. Each school caters for all learners, from beginners right through to advanced. In the morning classes generally cost €40-45, as this is peak time, though during the afternoon some schools drop their prices to €25-30. These rates are for one-on-one classes – group rates are much lower.

Some schools even offer a class + ski-hire saver deal, which is ideal if you’ve never skied or snowboarded before. Click here for more details (unfortunately there is no English translation of this page).

Shopping

All shops in ski resorts routinely charge an unfathomable amount for just about anything they have on sale, and the Sierra Nevada, sadly, is no exception. Don’t be surprised to find Mars bars priced at €2 or multipacks of brioche for €3.50 in supermarkets. Ready made sandwiches/baguettes are cheaper than eating at a restaurant but are still expensive at about €4-5.

Although it is dear everywhere, I’d generally advise against buying ski/snowboarding equipment in Pradollano, as there will most likely be something just as good for a better price online or in Granada, such as the good people at Afterbang.

img 0281 Sierra Nevada Day Trip: General Info, Prices, Tips & Recommendations

Plaza Andalucia

Tips & Recommendations

Best runs for beginners, intermediate and experts

For obvious reasons, complete beginners are best sticking to the three beginner slopes directly in front of the Borreguiles mid-station. However these particular slopes quickly become clogged with zig-zagging ski schools and reckless I’ll-just-teach-myself types so I’d advise more advanced skiers/boarders to steer clear. Once you’ve got the hang of linking your turns, I’d recommend that you move on to a gentle blue run; el Cecilio off to the right, starting at the top of the Monachil chair would be ideal. It isn’t too long and brings you back to the mid-station, though be careful that you don’t accidentally take the Manazanilla red that runs parallel to it!

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Beginner Section

Generally speaking, the Sierra Nevada is perfect for intermediates. The mountain isn’t technical, and the wide-open nature of almost all of its runs allows for a lot of freedom, so most intermediates should be comfortable on any red and one or two of the blacks. The steeper reds are off to the left, coming own the Veleta ridge and a good black to get you started would be either la visera or el trampoline, both short, quick and accessed via the Emilio Reyes chair.

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View from la vuelta a zahareña

For the more advanced skier/boarder, there are several pistes worth checking out. My personal favourite is the long, winding agila (meaning ‘eel’) further down the left side of the mountain. This run necessitates the ability to make sharp turns at speed and chucks up a surprise every now and then. Moreover, it’s often very quiet since you have to traverse along the diagonal cauchiles (accessed via the Stadium chair) to get there. We snowboarders do not like doing this, but believe me, in this case it is worth it.

Elsewhere, a clutch of steep, rapid blacks can be found on the right side of the mountain, all of which come to a head at the lower Pradollano station. On a fresh powder day, there isn’t anywhere better to dig out massive carves, especially in the bowl beneath the blue villén. The far right side of Laguna also has some wide, often untracked pistes that are perfect for powder days, cartujo and monaguillo for example.

Buying from the street vendors

As soon as you arrive, you will surely notice the profusion of street vendors poking about the place. If you come by bus there will be one waiting when you step off it. Others lurk within the village centre. Generally, these guys do not try to rip you off; they know that you know (and if you don’t know then now you do) that their range of products are of a generally lower quality, so you will pay a fair price (which of course can be negotiated) for what you buy. I’ve friends who’ve bought gloves and sunglasses from these guys and they’ve served their purpose just fine, but they don’t expect them to last forever!

Eating and drinking

If you want to save money, don’t eat in restaurants. It’s as simple as that really. The cost of a burger and fries, for example, is usually in the region of €6 or €7. Taking your own sandwiches is a far more sensible idea and – if you want to get your money’s worth for the day – this also cuts down on lunchtime, as service at restaurants is often slow due to how busy it gets. I often take a bag and use one of the lockers found at the left hand side of the Borreguiles mid-station to store it in. That way, you can just ski down, grab your lunch, eat outside in the sun and rush off again. And it only costs €1 to use.

If you do want to push the boat out though, menus del día are perhaps the best way to go. Expect to pay around €9 or €10 for this at most restaurants, but this does include a starter, mains and either coffee or dessert.

At the end of the day, it’s always nice to kick back with a few beers and tapas somewhere. To keep costs down, I’d recommend 100 Montaditos, found on Plaza de Pradollano. The famously cut-rate franchise actually sticks to its normal prices, so big jarras of Cruz Campo set you back just €1.60 and any of their mouthwatering montaditos just as much if not less. Actually, on a Sunday everything – including the beer – sells for €1. Ordinarily I don’t go for Cruz Campo but at that price you can’t argue.

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That’s less than €7 right there… (Source: Trubble FlickrCC)

Ski-hire and Ski Schools

Personally, I’ve never had to hire equipment but friends of mine often use Intersport Riosport (a large, European based company) that offers fair prices for quality equipment. You can find it on Plaza Andalucía.

If you’re looking for native English-speaking instructors to teach you or your family/friends, I’d absolutely recommend The British Ski Centre, set up and co-run by two fully-qualified Brits who have more than fifteen years’ experience instructing in the Sierra Nevada. Click here to find out more about them.

Après Ski

Unless you’ve booked accommodation for the weekend, you are unlikely to properly experience Sierra Nevada’s après ski culture. There are of course various, lively bars to go to straight after the skiing is done for the day, El Golpe or Jaleo for example. But the real nightlife gets going later on at places like Mango and Sticky Fingers, where chupítos are aplenty, or Chimenea and Chicle, where you can use up whatever remaining energy you have left by dancing until 4 or 5 in the morning.

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Sierra Nevada Sunset

As for now, the winter has most definitely arrived here in Granada, meaning that – with a bit of luck – some snow won’t be too far behind either. There is already a base level and those ever-reliable snowmakers are working hard to keep the pistes fresh, but ultimately there is a massive dearth of snow at the moment. Skis crossed that changes soon!

Have you been to the Sierra Nevada recently? Do you have any more tips and recommendations? Please leave a comment  icon smile Sierra Nevada Day Trip: General Info, Prices, Tips & Recommendations

Here’s last season’s official highlights video:

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