The European Odyssey: Walking Granada at Night

Posted by on July 21st, 2008

Granada, Spain — I have just returned from a hike through Albayzin, the Moorish district of Granada. I began my trek from the top of Alhambra down a cobblestone lane so steep and so slick that the brave mountain bikers who attempted to descend it couldn’t use their brakes. The lane flanked the north-eastern wall of the Alhambra, blood-red in the sinking sun. I continued down through the Sultan’s gardens and into a modern neighborhood.

Sounds of life reached my ears, a family eating dinner, a mother scolding her child. I reached the Darro River; this was the bottom of the valley separating Alhambra from Albayzin. Now the real hike lay before me. The lanes are so narrow in some sections of Albayzin, when minibuses pass you have to press, face first, against the wall and hope that your camera bag doesn’t catch one of their mirrors. I arrived at San Nicolas church sweaty but satisfied in my climb. San Nicolas graces the top of Albayzin looking over the Alhambra and the center of Granada.  San Nicolas has long been a popular spot for lovers and even US presidents to watch the sun set.  It is always best and most crowded right as the sun is dropping behind Albayzin, gracing the Alhambra with a last few rays of light before dusk.

I sat, legs dangling precariously over the road below, watching the crowd and soaking in my last night in Granada. The square in front of San Nicolas was filled with tourists, hippies, and old men. Every now and then someone would burst into impromptu Flamenco adding even more magic to the night.  After dark had fallen and the crowds dispersed, I headed in the general direction of our hotel.

I walked down wide lanes and dark alleys all the while hoping I had not wandered into the Gypsy district of Sacromonte. I finally came to a narrow staircase, on one side was a condemned building on the other a heavily graffitied wall.  I had made up my mind to turn around if the next street failed to be more promising.  As I walked, the sound of Flamenco reached my ears once again. A few more steps and I burst onto a street thick with smells of Moroccan food and hookah.  I could not help but feel like some adventurer reaching an oasis in the desert.  From there it was a simple matter, reaching the hotel and heading up to the room with another lifelong memory.