Exploring Andalusia - Seville and Granada

Seville, Granada in Spain, Europe
March 30, 2018 Travel

Over reading week, I went to southern Spain for around a week with my boyfriend in mid February, from February 18 to 24, 2018. We flew from Copenhagen to Malaga, where we spent one night, and then spent 3 nights in Seville and 2 nights in Granada. I really loved this trip, Andalusia is so beautiful and I look forward to coming back in the future to explore the rest of the region (as well as other parts of Spain!). We were extremely lucky with the weather, we had clear blue skies every day, except for the day we were leaving!

We flew into Málaga as it was the cheapest from Copenhagen, and was a convenient connection to both Seville and Granada. After landing in the airport, we had to take a train to the city center, where we had a hotel booked nearby for one night. As we arrived late at night, the city close to the train station didn't seem to be very lively, likely due to the fact that it was off season in February, and it was a little difficult to find food places that were open past 10pm. Luckily, we were able to find some kebab close to the train station.

Seville

In the morning, we took a bus to Seville, which took approximately 3 hours. Seville is a large city, the third largest city in Spain, so we took a cab from the bus station to our hotel. In Seville, we used an app called MyTaxi to call cabs, which is used in some parts of Europe. We stayed in Apartamentos Murillo which is in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood of Seville, and really close to many of the main tourist attractions. While normally I stay in Airbnbs because it's usually cheaper, the hotels this time of year were very cheap, and 3 to 4 star hotels were less than 100 CAD for a night. Apartamentos Murillo was really nice, and the rooms have a small kitchenette if you want to cook or have some snacks.

Of course, the first thing we do after dropping off our luggage was to get some food! We found a nice tapas place right beside the cathedral, and had our first plate of jamón ibérico! Jamón ibérico is cured Spanish ham, made from black Iberian pigs, and are fed grains and/or acrorns, depending on the quality of the ham, and is really delicious! It is definitely not the healthiest, but we ate many places of this during our trip. After lunch, we wandered around Seville, checked out the cathedral, and the Metropol Parasol, a large mushroom-like structure made out of wood in the middle of the city. We also tried to go to the Real Alcázar, but the line was so long so we went home and bought tickets online for a different day so that we could skip the line.

We had two more full days in Seville, so we took it easy and just wandered around, had some more ham and some drinks before having dinner. The next day, in the morning we just wandered around the outside of the Alcázar since our tickets were for a different day, and got some coffee. Coffee in Spain is like Italy, it comes in small espresso cups full of dark strong coffee. Unfortunately, I tried to order a latte, which I don't think is a thing in Spain, and they brought me a cup of thick chocolate, that I think was meant to be for dipping churros in, whoops!

In the afternoon, after lunch, we went to check out the Plaza de España, and it was so beautiful! A well known fact is that a scene in Star Wars Episode II was filmed here, which was cool to see the filming location as well. Anyway, the porcelain details at the Plaza de España were very beautiful, and the plaza was a really nice place to walk around and relax on a warm afternoon.

Since flamenco originates from this region of Spain, we had to go see a flamenco show somewhere! We went to the flamenco museum, and also bought tickets to see a flamenco show the next night. They have a few different times that they offer the flamenco show, but sometimes they sell out, so you can book in advance on the website instead of buying tickets when you get there like we did. The museum was interesting and gave a nice history of flamenco and the different types of flamenco, it's not too big so you can see the whole museum in less than hour. The flamenco show that we saw the next day was really nice as well, it was about an hour long, I've never seen one before so it was cool!

For dinner, we went to a nice tapas place called La Moneda, where they also served main dinner dishes. We had shrimp, puntallidas (small fried squid), and little tiny clams here, and they were all delicious! I definitely recommend going to this place.

The next day, we finally got to go see the Real Alcázar! Even though it definitely wasn't peak tourist season (the summer), the lines were still ridiculous, but we had our skip-the-line tickets, so we went in and then joined another line to get our booked audio guides! To be honest, I am not great with audio guides, so after listening to a few in full, we just wandered through the Alcázar at our own pace. The palace was really nice, with a lot of intricate and colourful details. The gardens were also really nice, and we enjoyed a coffee there, although a bird pooped on my boyfriend which was not as nice!

In the evening, we had booked a cooking class! The cooking class was called Taller Andaluz de Cocina, located in the Triana food market and we did the Spanish Cooking Class. We were taught how to make salmorejo, spinach with chickpeas, and paella! During the class, we were also given sangria, and afterwards, a dessert of lemon sorbet with cava. It was all really delicious, and I had a really nice time and learned a lot at this cooking class. The chef, Victor, was really great and very nice, and did a great job of explaining everything. By the end of the class, I was definitely a little tipsy from the sangria, it was also really good! Luckily they later sent us the recipes, so I can make that sangria myself! :D

Afterwards, we headed to the flamenco show that we had bought tickets for the day before, and then headed to bed. The three days in Seville were really lovely, and I really enjoyed the city. Unfortunately, this was our last night in Seville, and we were heading to Granada the next day. That being said, I think three nights in Seville was the perfect amount of time to explore the city at an easy going pace, and be able to enjoy it all without being rushed.

Granada

In the morning, we took a bus to Granada from Seville. It took around 3.5 hours, and I mostly slept the whole way, as always. Granada is cooler than Seville, since it is closer to the mountains. However, I was told that in the summer time it's unbearably hot, and not to go there. When we got there, we took a bus to our hotel. We stayed at NH Hotels Granada Centro in Granada, I think it's a chain of hotels. It wasn't very expensive, and the room was quite nice, even if the furniture / decorations were a little old fashioned. The room was nice and clean, and quite spacious as well.

Once we settled in, we headed towards Mirador de San Nicolás to watch the sunset! This spot is quite crowded as it is a very well-known, popular spot to watch the sunset, for good reason. From here, there is a beautiful view of the Alhambra over the city, with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background.

After the sun set, we headed towards our meeting spot for a tapas tour! We did the Hidden Gems Tapas Tour with Granada Tapa Tours, and it was really lovely! Funnily (and luckily), we were on the tour with two other couples, and our tour guide was a young man named Roberto, who was great, and super nice! The tapas tour was a nice way to start off our time in Granada, as we were taken to a few different tapas bars, and tried some different foods and drinks. We actually ended up going back to a couple of them for our meals later. My favourite one was a place called La Vinoteca, they have a great light sparkling wine called yllera, and they also have a lunch menu that's just 15 euros for two courses and a drink, which is a great deal. In Granada, when you order a drink, they'll also bring you some tapas, which is different from Seville and quite nice. I had a great time on this tour, it was really nice talking to the other couples and Roberto.

The next day, our main activity was seeing the Alhambra! We had booked our tickets for this a couple months in advance, as they limit the amount of people entering the grounds, and the tickets sell out well in advance. I was completely blown away by the Alhambra. First of all, the grounds are massive, we spent almost 4 hours here, and definitely could've spent more if we had gone more slowly. It's really tiring walking around the huge grounds, though, and you have to walk up a hill to get to the entrance, it's 20-30 minutes from the city centre. Secondly, the Royal complex (the main palace) is gorgeous. I thought the Alcázar in Seville was amazing, but the Alhambra was even more elaborate somehow. Words and pictures definitely don't do it any justice, so you'll just have to go see for yourself. There are also cats all over the grounds, which is nice if you're a cat lover like me. The main structures of the Alhambra grounds requiring tickets that I recall were the Royal complex, the palace gardens, the Alcazaba, which are old fortress ruins, and the Generalife, which is the summer palace and gardens. The Alhambra grounds also have a great view of the city down below, and of the Sierra Nevada mountains, since it is elevated above the city.

After walking around the Alhambra, we had booked a time to visit Hammam Al Andalus, which are Arabic baths. You need to book ahead as they have allocated time slots, and limit the amount of people for a quiet and relaxing experience. It was really nice and relaxing, they tell you to arrive early and as you wait, there is a waiting room where you can have some tea. They then bring in guests individually and show each guest the changing rooms and when you're finished changing, someone will give you a tour of the baths, and tell you which baths are hot or cold. We also booked massages, so you can pick an essential oil to be massaged with, which was really lovely and soothing as well. The baths were a great way to end the day after walking around all day, and I would definitely recommend coming here after visiting the Alhambra. It was a great way to end our last full day in Granada, before heading back to Málaga the next day and flying back to Copenhagen.

I had a really lovely time in the south of Spain. The architecture in Seville and Granada have a lot of Moorish influences and is very beautiful, both Seville and Granada are amazing cities with great food and great sights. Having been to Barcelona and Madrid, I think I enjoyed coming to Seville and Granada even more, and it just made me fall even more in love with Spain. It's interesting because I don't consider Spanish cuisine to be one of my favourites, yet I love the country of Spain so much and food is often my number one reason for travelling. I also usually prefer nature to cities, but Spain is definitely an exception in that regard. What I'm trying to say is that I love Spain not for it's food, like so many other countries I love (i.e. Italy), but for it's culture, and beautiful cities and architecture.