Tag Archives: Granada

granada, spain alhambra, carmen de la victoria

Your Chance to Win TWO Spanish Courses!

Here in Granada there seems to be an ever-increasing number of Spanish schools. It’s no surprise, really; Granada is such a popular place to come and learn Spanish because of the abundance of highlights it presents; diverse culture, free tapas, alpine skiing, peaceful beaches and of course the mesmerising architecture, to name but a few reasons.

If you’re thinking of coming to Spain– or more specifically, Granada –to learn Spanish for a short period, you’ll doubtless want to make the absolute most of your time here; experiencing Granada to the max and meeting people from different countries who are all just as eager to learn Spanish as you are.

That’s where Escuela DeLengua comes in.

Not only does Escuela DeLengua offer comprehensive, year-long, intensive Spanish courses, but also unique, practical courses that focus on both traditional and environmental themes. Currently, the school is offering full scholarships on two such courses.

One: Learn Spanish Through Flamenco

Valencia136 Your Chance to Win TWO Spanish Courses!

How long? 5 days

When? 20/04/15 – 24/04/15

Where? Escuela DeLengua, Granada + local excursions in the afternoon

Minimum level of Spanish required: A2 (Basic)

Accommodation included? No

Group size: 5-10

Ordinary course fee: €210

This special course will take place in April, lasting one week from Monday 20th to Friday 24th. There are five spots up for grabs on this one, and anyone fitting the necessary requirements has the chance to enter up until 10:00am on February 27th (so hurry!), when the raffle will close.

The course consists of activities, workshops and of course, Flamenco shows. You don’t need to be an expert on Flamenco to participate; just interested in learning about the topic and improving your Spanish!

Accommodation is not included with the course. Find more details on course requirements and how to enter here.

Two: The Spanish, Environment and Sustainability Course

IMAG1040 Your Chance to Win TWO Spanish Courses!

La Cortijuela, Sierra Nevada, Spain

How long? 8 weeks

When? Any time between 13/04/15 and 27/11/15, except August.

Where? Escuela DeLengua, Granada + local and nature excursions

Minimum level of Spanish required: B1 (Intermediate)

Accommodatio included? Yes

Number of scholarships available: 2

The course, lasting a whopping 8 weeks, will consist in daily one-to-one Spanish classes and analysing the sustainability of the school itself, in order to later be able to devise a plan of action that can help improve the school’s carbon footprint, and finally putting that plan into practice. These ideas could be related to recycling, the consumption of electricity, water usage whatever aspect will reduce the school’s environmental impact.

The second part of the course will consider environmental issues on a more general scale, that is to say, the analysis of the sustainability of the city of Granada. Thus, participants will have the opportunity to analyse some of the most fascinating and beautiful places in Granada, and once again work on strategies to improve sustainability, whilst at the same time experience firsthand the culture and natural beauty of the city.
IMAG1043 Your Chance to Win TWO Spanish Courses!

The Solar-powered energy source of la Diputación de Granada

Granada’s location makes it the perfect place for such a course, given its proximity to the coast and biologically diverse Sierra Nevada national park. We get a lot of wind and rain here, making it an area of interest for renewable energy resources. The course will allow students to explore the city and beyond over the duration of the 8 weeks.
IMG 3588 Your Chance to Win TWO Spanish Courses!

Last year’s course at Carmen de Victoria, Granada

 I participated in a similar course myself last year, the difference being that mine lasted just a week. However, a week was long enough to recognise the passion and enthusiasm for teaching Spanish at DeLengua, and the value of learning Spanish on a course that is also educational in a wider sense.
This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone with a keen interest in sustainability and significantly improving their Spanish skills.
The offer runs until March 31st. Read here for more details of requirements and how to enter.
granada, spain alhambra, carmen de la victoria

How I Fell For Granada

Let’s turn back the clock:

It’s puente weekend at the end of February, 2011. Less than a week ago I didn’t know the first thing about Granada, besides that it was a city somewhere else in Andalucía and it shared a name with a UK-based TV broadcaster (naïve, ignorant, blah blah yes I know). Then, as our cherished puente approached, a teacher I worked with in El Puerto de Santa María suggested I visited for a long weekend, and take advantage of the region’s very own ski resort. ‘A ski-resort in Spain?’, was my first thought. Surely not…

One Google search later and I was booking my bus tickets and accommodation for the weekend. This was potentially a dream come true for the year ahead: stay in Spain, continue learning Spanish and go snowboarding regularly. A lot was riding on this trip.

I begin the weekend by sauntering up to the Alhambra’s public viewing area to take in the fabulous views below. The bustling El Mirador de San Nicolas– Granada’s most popular lookout –sits atop the historic and maze-like barrio of El Albaícin across the valley. The flashing (of cameras) is relentless; the view must be even better where they are.

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El Mirador de San Nicolas

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El Albaícin seen from the window of the Mexuar in the Alhambra Palace

Inside the palace, entry to which isn’t free but an equitable €15, is the intense and fascinating history of Moorish Granada, embossed within intricately carved walls, ceilings, marble-glazed fountains and centuries-old, storytelling paintings.

Such architectural ingenuity, I later discover, extends to the rest of the city; the Cathedral, hidden within the maze of pedestrianised streets side-streets, is as large and impressive as any in Spain, and an arched doorway to a cluster of official-looking offices are cast in the archetypal Moorish style.

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Granada’s Cathedral

That night it becomes evident that the nightlife is a pretty big draw too. I meet a friend who is determined to show off the city’s gastronomic prowess. The bubbling and Moroccan-faced Calle Elvira off Plaza Nueva is the choice of locale, and we eventually settle on trendy looking tapas bar Babel (C/ Elvira 40), which promises ‘a world fusion of flavours’. “What do you recommend?” I attempt in my best Spanish. “The octopus or the chicken fajitas” the cheery waiter replies in English. “But why not try both? All tapas come free with each drink!” He has a point. In fact, any tapa in any tapas bar comes free with each drink. Thus, dinner, along with three swills, costs me about €6.

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Tapas: Shawarma de Pollo, Papa Yunnani y faláfeles

I soon discover that filling up on tapas is especially important if you plan on having a night out in Granada. Bars and clubs stay open until dawn and it’s generally considered bad form to call it a night before 4am. It’s tempting to plough through and see where the night takes us, but we think better of it; tomorrow, we are going skiing.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range provides the striking backdrop to Granada, and serves as the region’s year-round adventure playground. Summer attracts climbers, hikers and mountain bikers to the rolling hills of Las Alpujarras, whereas winter brings multitudes of skiers and snowboarders, who either make the 45-minute drive from the city or travel epic distances to spend the day carving their way through the 3,393m high and 118 piste boasting ski-resort.

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Sierra Nevada Ski-resort

We are going in April, when conditions are slushy but almost warm enough to ski in just a t-shirt. We don’t, choosing instead to sweat profusely beneath our numerous layers before the day climaxes with a litre-sized jar of beer and a platter of €1 priced mini baguettes at 100 Montaditos (Plaza de Pradollano).

My second evening is almost a mirror image of the first, except this time I allow myself to carry on into the morning, at which point I have got very lost, my phone battery has died and I’ve lost everyone from the hostel.

After an hour or so of stumbling around in the dark, I  still haven’t found my hostel, but I do come across a signpost for El Mirador de San Nicolas, the viewpoint that has alluded me until now. So off I go to watch the sun rise over The Alhambra, and decide, there and then, as a local drunk man attempts to speak to me in entirely incomprehensible Andaluz between swigs of his flat and lukewarm-looking litro, that I would make no mistake about it: I am going to live in Granada.

las alpujarras granada andalucia

Life is what we make of it. Nothing’s forever.

Circle time: I’ve been going through a rough patch.

I hadn’t realised until going home for Christmas, but I’d lost my way here in Granada, a city I have known and loved for quite a long time now. I just wasn’t excited anymore. I wasn’t waking up extra early to spend half an hour sipping a relaxing cup of café con leche on my terrace before going to work, or eavesdropping on random crusties in the street to amuse myself and brush up on my comprehension of andaluz. I could count my Spanish friends on one hand, and probably the number of minutes per day I’d spend speaking Spanish on the other.

Not good.

I needed to change; to break the mould a bit; to get out more; to burst the ‘guiri bubble’, as it were. But most importantly, I needed to rediscover where I live and start appreciating it again.

Hence the lengthy period of inactivity on this here blog of mine. Well, that, and a fruitless, exasperating 3-week wait for Vodagroan to get their act together and install internet in my new apartment. They didn’t in the end– and I won’t go into why or else the point of this post will be lost –but let’s just say they are a bunch of silly knobheads and I won’t ever be knocking on their door again.

Now I am back online and raring to blog, after using these last few weeks to collect my thoughts and turn my stagnating expat life around.

So…

I’ve got a new job (on top of my teaching job), a new place (with a proper contract!), a new housemate, a few new Spanish-speaking friends, I’ve returned to studying Spanish (properly this time) and I’m single again. Oh, and I’ve started eavesdropping on crusty Spanish hippies again too.

It feels fantastic, if a bit peculiar.

I’ve been here almost four years, and I suddenly feel born again. My enthusiasm for all things Spain and learning/speaking Spanish has come rushing back, and I am determined to make the most of what time I have left in Granada.

The recent deluge of snow we’ve had will undoubtedly play a key role in this over the coming weeks. Right now, the Sierra Nevada is covered in an almighty white coat, all the way from top to bottom. I’ve never seen it look so brilliant. I’ll be getting a much closer look this Saturday hopefully.

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Granada with a light frosting. (Credit: Nick Player)

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Granada’s Sacromonte bario looking even more spectacular (Credit: Nick Player)

I’m relieved to have turned a corner, and grateful that I realised I needed change when I did. I suppose it goes to show that we can all get too comfortable and monotony can set in, no matter where we are in the world. At first it can feel like continuity; progression; healthy routine. But if we are not careful these routines become stifling and hugely damaging to our overall experience of a place we probably won’t call home forever.

Life is what we make of it, and nothing’s forever.  That’s my motto from now on…

snow in andalucia, spain, nieve, granada

Proof that it snows in Spain!

Snowfall in Granada’s sky-scraping Sierra Nevada mountain range is hardly surprising at this time of year, but to see it bucket down at ground level like it did yesterday is most unusual.

As a group of us were making our way back from Almería along the winding A-92 highway, the clouds descended and raindrops slowly turned into snowflakes. Five minutes later, our outside environs were blanketed with a layer of snow, creating a stunning scene that we are rarely treated to here in the south of Spain.

image6 Proof that it snows in Spain!

image5 Proof that it snows in Spain!

It was almost as though we were driving through the Alps or along the TransCanada highway; the coated pine trees that stood either side of us do not grow in abundance in the Sierra Nevada like they do at ground level, and the steep hillsides beyond completed the picture perfectly.

image4 Proof that it snows in Spain!

My thoughts turned to the Sierra Nevada ski resort, which has suffered the worst start to a season in six or seven years. “Oh the powder! Think of the fresh powder up there!” I exclaimed to my travelling companions, none of whom give a toss about powder. “Never mind”, I conceded, and drifted back to my happy place.

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Hiking the villén ridge in the Sierra Nevada

Of course ten minutes later the snow had turned back into rain and the scene had suddenly disappeared, but those ten minutes were more than enough to instigate a case of ski-bum fever, which is, of course, the reason I ended up in Granada. Now I am relishing the day I finally get to dust off my barely used snowboard, pile into a friend-filled car and go have myself a day of awesomeness up in the snowy (and powdery) mountains.

Sod’s law that it should snow on a Sunday though, meaning that by the time next weekend comes around this fresh dump (ski-bum jargon) will but all have melted or frozen. But disenchanted I am not, for this, I am sure, is a sign of things to come!

It seems at last the season is officially underway…

image2 Proof that it snows in Spain!

rio genil, granada, spain

The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

A lot of people who contact me through this blog do so because they are thinking of coming to live in Granada. This means I am reaching my intended audience (woo!) and I always answer each enquiry as best I can, but there is one question I am asked time again: How much does it cost to live in Granada?

I thought it was about time to answer this properly by way of blog post, but I want to make it clear that this is a rough guide and based on my own personal spending habits (and I spend more than I save!)

I (like most guiris in Granada) earn a living by teaching English, which– give or take a couple of hundred –generally yields around €1,000 per month, post tax. In my experience, this is enough to pay the rent, pay the bills, buy your essentials, go out about three times a week, splurge every now and again and keep a bit back, but it is of course all relative. I earn a bit more money through blogging and DJing so perhaps I spend a bit more than the average, English-teaching guiri in Granada. I don’t know, but if I earned less, I would spend less; If I earned more, I would spend more, etc.

Monthly Budget

To fully enjoy Granada you really need at least €700 p/m– any less than this and you’ll almost certainly find yourself scrimping desperately come the end of the month. If you earn more than €1,200 p/m you’re generally pretty well off! (Though if you’ve got mouths to feed then you’re probably at your limit).

That’s a general overview, but this is what it looks like if we break down my monthly budget:

Groceries: €50

I tend to ‘buy as I go’ when it comes to basic essentials, which probably leads to spending more money than is necessary. Occasionally– when my housemate and I are trying our best to be organised –we might buy in bulk, which consequently saves us a few pennies. We use Mercadona’s delivery service (we live far away from our nearest store), which, sadly, doesn’t come for free but does save you a hell of a lot of time! Here is a fantastic, up-to-date prices list for a few standard items at Mercadona, posted by Marianne on East Of Malaga.

469984295 64353ce107 b The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

Rent/Bills: €310

I pay above average to live where I live, so (try to) cut down in my spending in other ways, but for €220p/m you can expect to find a more than adequate shared apartment. Geneally speaking, the more people you share with, the lower the cost of the bills, which tend to arrive bimonthly.

Going Out: €320

This is a very rough estimate, but either way could be dramatically reduced if I didn’t have such a fondness for gorging myself on tapas and either the beer or wine that comes with them. One tapa sets you back about €2; I have three or four tapas per session; I might go out for tapas three or four times a week. You do the maths!

Al Sur de Granada The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

Tapas at Al Sur de Granada, C/ Elvira (Source)

Phone Bill: €15

For years I’ve avoided a contract deal for my phone since I can never be sure when I will be leaving the country for good. Instead I use Pay As You Go + 500MB internet bundle with Yoigo, who, to be fair, have always been very reliable. The main advantage to using pay as you go is that you don’t have to continue paying when back in your home country.

Splurging: €150

At least twice a month I will find a good reason to part with a hefty sum of money, be it for new clothes, an expensive restaurant meal, a ticket for a concert/live event or a trip to another part of Spain. It’s money I don’t need to spend but what would be the point of living in Spain if I didn’t push the boat out from time to time?

IMG 2867 The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

Best steak ever had in Spain at El Castaño, Pampaneira

Transport: €20

The new bus system in Granada has confused many of the city’s inhabitants. We’ve only just come to terms with it, realising that it is in fact much better than the previous one, despite having to take two buses to the bus station from the centre (there are still a few unconvinced abuelas). A bus card, which can be easily topped up at the brand spanking new swipe machines at every stop, costs €5. Each trip costs €0,79. However, taxis (for when you’re running late) trains, coaches and Blablacar rides to other parts of Spain all add up.

lac granada The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

The new and much talked about LAC bus of Granada!

Other: €100

Of course there are always little things here and there that we can’t account for and change gets frittered away in no time. I try to keep receipts for everything but they are all ultimately lost or accidentally left in jeans’ pockets and thus destroyed in the washing machine. Spanish Classes and flights to and from the UK and other countries fall under this category too.

Total Average Expenditure: €995

Leftover: €250

img 1120 copy The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

This makes me happy.

What’s cheap?

Generally, basic supplies are much cheaper than they are in the UK. Household items from Chinese-run convenience stores (‘chinos‘) are especially low-cost. And then there is tapas, which comes free with any drink in most bars!

What’s expensive?

Designer clothes and electronic equipment. When it comes to buying luxury items I either wait until I am back in the UK or order online and pay the relatively inexpensive postage fee.

One word of advice?

Get drunk less, travel more icon smile The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

torre de la vela, alhambra, granada, spain

My Top Places to Visit in Granada

Granada offers visitors a wealth of attractions, through culture, entertainment, architecture and its renowned tapas scene. I have picked out a few of my favourite spots around town and pinned them on the map below so you that know exactly where to find them.

This map will be permanently pinned to the site’s homepage from now on, so if you ever want to come back for another look it will be very easy to find…

Explore and enjoy Granada!

This map was made with the help of Eurobreakdown.com, who provide specialist insurance for taking your own vehicle to Europe with you, so that you can enjoy more of beautiful Spain!