Tag Archives: Granada

impresiones gigantes, art, arte, granada, mural, mosaic

‘Impresiones Gigantes’: A Fresh Take on Live Art

The clue is in the name. Impresiones Gigantes, a collective made up of artists from Granada and beyond, don’t go about their work quietly. Instead, they bring their art to life right in front of you, in the street, with the help of solid teamwork, an abundance of paint and a great big, hissing steamroller. Yes, a steamroller! The point, after all, is to make a big impression.

Ameer Hogg, one of the collective and fellow Granada-based guiri, kindly provided his insight on the live event and the long, intricate process that goes into crafting their work.

Brace yourselves…

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Ameer takes a closer look at a work in process

Blasting out it’s brilliant imagery, the increasingly popular ‘Impresiones Gigantes’ event in Granada is now in its third, fruitful year.

Impresiones started three years ago, bringing a new perspective on live art events in the streets of Granada by using a steam-roller to churn out print after print for excited onlookers. We each demonstrate our different skills in the street, revealing and teaching our process right in front of our audience, with the goal of inspiring others to grab a roller and some ink.

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The artistry doesn’t only take place in the live street event itself, but also in the initial craftwork that each of us are consumed by in the build up to the big day. Each member has their own methods, but with core tools in common; cuts of linoleum and a set of gauges. Many seasoned artists from all over contribute and there is a whole section of international prints, one of which was raffled off to a fortunate winner at this year’s event.

To begin with, each artist works on their own piece individually. These can vary in size; the novice members of the group make small 5×5 inch images, while core members produce the huge 3mx1m prints. Once our images have left the drawing boards and hit the linos, we get together and begin the careful cutting and gauging process. The value of accuracy at this stage really depends on each art piece and imperfections are often welcomed– a notion that many artists of other art forms will second. A great deal of care is needed at this stage too; the slightest slip with the gauge in the wrong direction can take your protagonist’s nose clean off! Some of us take as long as three weeks– going at it four to six hours a day –just cutting, as the many different movements of line and incongruent forms ultimately make for a cornucopia of image styles.

The cuts are then transported down to Paseo de Salon on the day of the event and inked up using a series of hand-held rollers. Like experiencing a gig by your favourite band, the real effect of our work hits home when you see it live.

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The intrigued crowd swells, all eyes on the giant steamroller. The keys are turned and a low grumbling sound fills the air. More people are lured in. We grab the ready-inked print and carry it over to the runway where the trusty engine roller will drive right over it. We throw on a couple of layers consisting of paper, plastics and the long white, blank canvas itself, soon to be a work of art. The roller eeks back and forth readying itself for the run, like a raging bull facing the matador. The engine kicks in and the murmuring is drowned out with an almighty roar. With a blast of exhaust fumes and a tip of the driver’s hat, the beast of a machine grinds towards the print. The crowd watch with a curious look of excitement and bewilderment as it slowly flattens the intricate work. At this point, some spectators are assuming this is some conceptual work in which we crush beautiful images with a device that resembles a mini tank. As it rolls back, however, there are sighs of relief and joy as we lift the canvas to reveal a huge, fresh, gorgeous print.

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More often than not, the crudest images come out the best. “One of my favourites was actually made by a lad of about six” says Brian Barry, the events founder and organiser, “just two penguins with brilliant little expressions on their faces. We all loved it.”

One after the other, the cuts are inked in a conveyer-belt style production line. The roller soldiers on in the baking sun as new waves of onlookers gasp and smirk with surprise. This goes on from the break of day until dawn, with a complex mosaic print of all the novice prints conjured up for our fans as a grand finale at sunset. After the dust settles, the prints are hung from the nearby palm trees for all to see.

Who would want to miss such a big impression?

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For more information and pictures you can visit the Impresiones Gigantes website or get in touch with Ameer through his own film-making site or at ameerhogg(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Escuela Delengua, Granada

A Different Sort of Spanish Course at Delengua, Granada

I’ve lost count of the amount of classes, teachers, textbook and online practice exams that have contributed to my learning of Spanish.

I’d be lying if I said that these approaches haven’t helped– I owe a lot to the traditional method –but after three years it all becomes a bit of a bore. There’s only so much sitting quietly as the teacher explains yet another reason for using the subjunctive I can take, so I quite happily jilted Spanish classes a few months ago when I felt I could take no more.

Last month, however, I was invited by Escuela Delengua to participate in a week-long course, here in Granada, which offered an alternative learning approach– and here’s the best bit –outside of the classroom.

Fun Spanish! Yes!

The course content– environment and sustainability –appealed to me too. Although it’s not something I’m usually too proactive about, I still do my bit: recycling, cutting carbon emissions, taking 6-minute showers (is that quick?) etc, so I was sure I would find the course rewarding for both my Spanish and personal growth.

Further reading revealed that the course would involve educational visits to areas of the Albaicín barrio that I had never been to before and even a trip to La Cortijuela, the Sierra Nevada’s botanical garden. The schedule aligned perfectly with my regular working hours so accepting the proposal was a no-brainer.

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Granada, Spain

Our group was small– six in total –and someone was nearly always sick, late or lost, so we received close attention form the participating teachers and guides throughout the duration of the course.

The week began with a fascinating tour of my own hood, the Albaicín, with stop-offs at numerous but now disused Aljibes– traditional and canalised water depositories that were used during the Moorish era. We learnt about what materials were used to make them, cal (clay) and argamasa (mortar) for example, and the genius thinking behind the construction process. The day was capped off with a visit to Granada’s Centro de Interpretación del Agua– once the nucleus of the city’s water distribution network and now a museum festooned with a beautiful huerto a huge and extremely flowery garden.

On Tuesday we were taken to a presentation about the ecological damage in the Vega de Granada– a green area within the city –and various methods that have been initiated to help curb it and prevent even more. Then we were shown around a laboratory with a couple of massive microscopes, the purposes of which were explained in great detail, though I have to admit this part went straight over my head. I was far more interested in the ecological goods store we visited afterwards, where I stocked up on organic, dried apple and cinnamon cereal, ginger and lemon biscuits and my favourite Granadina cerveza– Mamooth –which until then I had no idea was brewed ecologically.

 

It rained on Wednesday, meaning our trip to the Jardín Botánico de La Cortijuela in the Sierra Nevada was regrettably ruined. Not that we knew it until we arrived, when the rain turned into cats and dogs. Juani, our guide, did his best to animate us and we managed about an hour before retreating back to the van but nevertheless took away some fascinating new knowledge of the Sierra Nevada’s botanical past.

IMAG1040 A Different Sort of Spanish Course at Delengua, Granada

La Cortijuela, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The mountain range was formed by the collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates during the Tertiary Period, and is really an extension of the Rif mountains in Morocco. Years after the continents parted, during the last ice age, more plant species emmigrated south in order to escape the colder climate in the north. When the climate grew warmer again, these new species were able to survive by taking refuge in the mountains. As a result, there are now around 2,100 plant species in the Sierra Nevada; more than are found in the whole of the British Isles. Typical then, that I can only recall one without researching them– the Barberry Plant, which smells like bubblegum.

On Thursday morning we visited the Diputación de Granada for a talk on renewable energy sources and how, if proper legislation were passed, we could save a colossal amount of energy through ‘cleaner’ and cheaper methods. The building showcases one such method: a solar powered installation comprised of 72 panels, generating around 10-15% of the building’s power.

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The Solar-powered energy source of la Diputación de Granada

Friday was my favourite day by far. We began with a visit to the University owned Carmen de la Victoria, another outdoor garden filled with orchards, flowers and fountains. Next we were shown around a typical Moorish home, also in the Carmen style, by the Gitana lady who lived there. It was fascinating to learn how they still lived with the same insulation mechanisms as their ancestors did hundreds of years before them.

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Later in the afternoon we visited another lady’s home, this time one with a cave in it! This is not an uncommon household feature in Granada’s Albaicín barrio, and this one had been restored from ruins and converted into a bedroom and even a bar. I would love to say that I lived in a cave. It would be incredibly cool. Literally, as the temperature inside stays at around 17-18ºC all year round due to the clay coating of the rocks.

 

To finish the week in style, we, along with all other classes at the academy, were invited back to Delengua Academy for a tapa and wine tasting evening. The event was hosted by Granada-based José Mendez Moya, a sole wine trader who produces wine using only ecological harvesting and fermentation methods. Luckily for us, he brought about 40 bottles of the stuff with him, spanning five varieties. All were divine and 100% organic, and the fermentation process of each was explained in detail before being poured, though I must admit my concentration level began to falter as the night wore on…

 

By the end I had chatted to just about every other student and teacher in the room, and reached the same conclusion with every one of them: Delengua was a fantastic academy and not only taught Spanish in a fun way but went the extra mile to ensure students had a great time outside of class too.

Many thanks to Manuel, José, Juani and José Mendez for their contributions to a week that taught me more than a few neat things about my own backyard!

Delengua offer a range of intensive Spanish courses, ideal to get you off to a winning start if you plan to stay in Spain for a while. Courses last from one week to twelve months and take place all year round. Click here to find out more information.

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Alhambra Palace Granada Spain

Make Savings on Your Trip to Andalucía

Andalucía, the second largest and most visited autonomous region of Spain, is a rich haven of fascinating landmarks and monuments. From Granada’s illustrious Alhambra Palace and Sierra Nevada mountain range to the Picasso museum of Malaga and the world’s third largest cathedral in Seville, holidaymakers are never short of things to see and do.

Quite predictably, it can be rather difficult– and often costly –to cram all these sights into an already jam-packed itinerary, especially when tackling it all solo. Buying online is the best way to ensure things run smoothly and setbacks such as sold out ticket offices and language barriers are avoided, even though buying online usually means paying over the odds.

However, with TicketBar.eu, not only can you buy online beforehand and save yourself a few headaches but you actually receive discounts, group offers and the chance to jump the often snaking queues at all the major attractions. Spain For Pleasure has teamed up with ticketbar.eu to help bring you the best attractions Andalucía has to offer at the best possible prices.

Granada

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Granada seen from the Torre de la Vela – the highest point of The Alhambra

A guided tour at The Alhambra Palace typically costs €43, but with TicketBar you will pay €37. You’ll also make a saving of €6 on a regular tour with audio guide and be able to skip the queue.

Other options in Granada include the Alhambra + Flamenco Show + Dinner package, Hop on Hop off City Bus Tour, Historic Granada Tour and even a day trip to the Costa Tropical and Nerja Caves– all at discounted rates.

Seville

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Sevilla (Source)

TicketBar offers even more discounted tours in Seville, from Classic Sevilla, Historic Sevilla, Hop on Hop off Bus, Guadalquivir Cruise and a ‘bike tapas’ tour. There are even day trip packages to Cádiz, Jerez, Doñana and Córdoba.

Malaga

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Teatro Romano, Malaga (Source)

Although not quite as luring on historic and architectural merit when compared with Granada and Sevilla, Malaga still boasts its own selection of sights. TicketBar offer four cut-price tours in Malaga: The Hop on Hop off Bus (including a stop-off at the Roman Theatre), The Highlights Bike Tour (including a stop-off at Picasso’s birthplace), The Malaga Tapas Bike Tour and Bike Tour of Malaga FC’s stadium for visiting football fans.

TicketBar operate tours in more than 30 other cities around the world. Visit their website here to book your discounted tour in Andalucía, whatever and wherever it may be.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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La Violinista joven

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El Girafe

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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.

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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:

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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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