Tag Archives: Granada

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.

img 02911 Proof that it snows in Spain!

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!


Hometown Hidden Gems Granada: El Chiringuito

Hidden high up in the hillside bario of Sacromonte, you’ll find one of Granada’s best kept secrets: El Chiringuito.

Traditionally, chiringuitos are small, makeshift, unlicensed (and unchecked) enterprises, often run by families on beaches across coastal Spain, which sell cheap drinks and tapas. In fact they are more like shacks than bars. Sometimes it’s just a bloke, a cooler full of beer, a chair and a table, and he makes a killing. At least in the summer and spring time he does; these beach-side chiringuitos are seasonal, and in the cold, rainy autumns and winters, business stops dead.

Granada’s is a one-off; it’s often just €1 bottles of cold beer or coke on offer but the walk up, beginning from Plaza Larga in the historic Albaicín bario, is well worth the effort for those who like neither. There’s probably bottled mineral water anyway.

granada Hometown Hidden Gems Granada: El Chiringuito

The bar sits on a most dramatic platform, facing the Sacromonte valley with the Alhambra on one side, the Albaicín on the other and the city of Granada and mountains beyond. It is without doubt the best view in town– the sort that would usually yield crazy prices just to be able to sit down with a beer and gaze at. The cost of a tubo (a bit more than half a litre of beer) and tapa at the bar directly beneath El Mirador de San Nicolas (Granada’s most famous viewpoint) for example, beggars belief; I paid €6– an outrageous figure in Andalucía, which, needless to say, I won’t be paying again!

IMAG1011 1 Hometown Hidden Gems Granada: El Chiringuito

On a clear day, you can see right out to the horizon, and if it’s Spring, then there will almost certainly be a sprinkling of snow left on top of the Sierra Nevada mountain range over your left shoulder.

What’s more, authentic flamenco guitarists regularly come here to practice– not busk–and local gitana ladies might occasionally join in with the crooning. This quiet corner sums up flamenco-historic Sacromonte perfectly, yet, bewilderingly, guidebooks tend not to mention it. If you’ll excuse the cliché, it really is a hidden gem.

IMAG1009 Hometown Hidden Gems Granada: El Chiringuito

Getting There

From Plaza Larga in El Albaicín, take C/ Panaderos, then a right onto Plaza del Salvador. Continue straight until Cuesta de Los Chinos on the left and follow this all the way until you find the chiringuito. There will be white, plastic furniture outside so you should know when you are there.

If you have a car it’s best to park on Cuesta del Chapiz and walk up but to be honest you won’t want to take a car anywhere near the Albaicín, lest you become stuck or very, very lost.

*This post was written in collaboration with US-based RelayRides, a hidden gem itself in the rental car industry, whose goal is to make traveling easier, more personable and more affordable via their unique peer-to-peer service. I received no monetary compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

rio verde, granada, spain, junta de los rios, andalucia, lagoon, waterfall, otivar

Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

It’s summer. It’s hot, sticky, sweaty and insufferable. It’s hitting 45ºC almost every day and nearly impossible to sleep. It’s not even August yet. So thank God that I am not in Spain.

I love the heat, but perspire even at the thought of such insane temperatures. No, Spanish summertime is not for me. Instead, I retreat to the cooler shores of the UK, where, in Oxford, I teach English to Chinese and Japanese undergraduates who don’t find Alan Partridge funny.

alanpartridge Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada


But if you are in Spain, and looking for a way to escape the heat that doesn’t involve crowded beaches or public swimming pools, then my advice is to grab as much food and beer as possible,  jump in a car, drive or be driven out to the sticks and find either a fresh water lake or lagoon, preferably with a waterfall. Then stay there until you’ve finished all your food and beer (and get someone else to drive back).

It’s actually a lot easier than you think to find one of these nirvanas. A few weeks ago I posted about Lake Bermejales– an enormous, emerald-blue fresh water lake near Alhama de Granada. It’s perfect for a summer day trip and a hundred times better than the sandy (or pebbly) and salty beach.

Our original plan that weekend, however, had been to go to another idyllic spot on the radar: Rio Verde. I say ‘spot’, but a river is of course much bigger/longer than a spot. What I actually mean is a secret and isolated lagoon with waterfalls you can jump from, like that scene in The Beach only a little less terrifying.

beach waterfall Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

The waterfall where Leo and French pals jumped from in The Beach. Ballsy.

So we went next weekend instead.

The drive from Granada to Otívar, the nearest village to the river, takes about an hour and 15 minutes, but finding the turn-off to Palacete de Cazulas was another matter entirely. When we eventually did manage to find it (SatNav hasn’t got a clue out here) and started to creep our way down, the road became extremely narrow and quite disconcerting. In fact, were it not for the fact we were in a 4×4 I doubt we’d have made it. If you don’t have a 4×4 you’d be better off parking sooner rather than later, lest you can’t get back up again.

Before we left our vehicle we loaded up on water and sun cream– very important in this heat –and then made our way along the river bank on foot for twenty minutes, picking avocados and fresh figs as we went, until we came upon a large, stone dam. On the other side was pure bliss: a turquoise blue lagoon, fed by two waterfalls that had formed through the dam wall.

RioVerde01 Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

The River Walk

RioVerde25 Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

There was nothing else; just us, the lagoon and nature. However, it quickly dawned on us that we hadn’t actually found the lagoon we’d been looking for– La Junta de los Rios –but we couldn’t have cared less; this was perfect and there was no-one else around to share it with. Just as well, since there is only space for about six people to sit on the facing rocks.

We strayed a little further down the river later on, where we found more avocado and fig trees, but couldn’t bare the thought of leaving our find behind. We stayed all afternoon, some of us posing elegantly beneath the waterfalls (see below), and we never saw another soul.

RioVerde07 Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

The Lagoon

RioVerde20 Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

The Climb…

The Dive!


Later research revealed that we should have continued past the exit we took and taken the next one just beyond it, where there is apparently a ticket booth and a safe place to park. From here it’s a 6km walk to La Junta de los Rios, but you need to be in good shape and have your wits about you since the ground is not even and previous flash floods have caused severe erosion. There are some tour companies based in Granada who offer adventure-style excursions– rafting, canyoning, climbing and so on –and will take care of all the navigation for you, not to mention provide you with a surely unforgettable experience!

Rio Verde is an exceptionally beautiful area and perfect for a day trip and escaping the crowds. Just go prepared and be extra careful with those rocky roads…

RioVerde14 Day Trip to Rio Verde, Granada

Did I not mention I do casual work for Herbal Essences?

Getting there

From Granada, there are two possible routes to Otívar. The easiest is probably taking the E-902/A44 towards Motril, then, exiting from the A7, follow the SO-22, SO-14 and SO-02 to Otívar. This last leg of the journey takes you right through the heart of rugged, rural Andalucían countryside. It’s incredible.

Have you been anywhere like this in Spain? What other alternatives to the beach are out there? Let’s hear your suggestions!

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.