When we arrived in Granada, the GPS directed us to the nearest (and probably most expensive!) underground parking garage in the area. It seemed a little dodgy to us at first. The walls were sprayed with graffiti and a boisterous group of teenagers sporting hoodies and tattoos congregated around the exit. We avoided eye contact and tried to look as un-touristy as two people carrying backpacks and cameras and wearing comfortable clothes with sneakers on a weekday morning could look. As it turns out, our fears were unfounded. We were parked right opposite the city’s university, next to a skateboard rink.
It was another grey, drizzly day and the old buildings looked sombre and washed-out in the dull light. With no map to guide us around the unfamiliar streets we were soon lost, but spotting a bell tower between the buildings, we managed to eventually find our way to the heart of the old town. As we approached the cathedral we were once again harassed by gypsy women trying to force branches of rosemary into our hands. A firm “Nee, dankie” spoken in Afrikaans while avoiding eye contact seemed to be the best way of dealing with them.
On entering the Catedral Metropolitana de Granada, I was happy to find that the entry fee was only €3.50 per person, less than half the price of the others we had visited so far. But we soon realised that the price is proportionate to the grandeur of the cathedral and found this one spectacularly uninspiring. While both cathedrals in Malaga and Seville allowed photos inside, this one didn’t and I think it’s because they know there’s not much to take pictures of in there. To say we were underwhelmed is an understatement.
Just outside the cathedral is the Real Capilla, the mausoleum housing the remains of Spain’s catholic monarchs. The entry fee was also €3.50 per person, which I paid gladly for the chance to see the tombs of Isabella and Ferdinand, the king and queen responsible for the creation of the notorious Spanish Inquisition. The chapel also includes a museum containing relics and 15th century portraits and religious paintings, but none were particularly interesting to us.
The red Hop-On-Hop-Off bus was waiting for us outside the chapel. At €18 per person it was quite expensive, but we’ve found that it’s the easiest way of seeing the sights of a city, and very convenient as well, because it takes you exactly to where you want to go and lets you get back on again after you’ve seen what you wanted to see. And luckily for us, the route included a stop at the top of the hill to visit the Alhambra, which was our primary reason for visiting Granada. So we sat back and let the bus driver battle with the traffic while ooh-ing and aah-ing at the appropriate moments. By the time we reached the stop for the Alhambra we’d decided that Granada is a grey, bleak town perhaps better explored in summer.
For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.