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Granada – The Cave People of Guadix

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Guadix is a beautiful town an hour east of Granada, which we visited on our trip back to Valencia. (It’s also the home of the pyrotechnic company who put on the March 2nd Mascletà — the only non-Valencian company invited, and did they impress!) But I digress.


The walled-in town of Guadix is neat — winding alleys and an impressive cathedral. But we were drawn by famous cave dwellings, found on the hill overlooking the city.

All painted in white, these abodes are stunning. We took a little tour of one. The matriarch let us look around and take pictures, while she provided cave-person trivia, such as: cooking inside them is forbidden; they must be whitewashed thrice yearly; they maintain the same temperature (20° C) year-round.

I can’t imagine living in one, except perhaps during a vacation. And you can actually rent them out for extended stays. They’re not all that expensive. Here’s one booking website.

Guadix was an interesting final stop on our long weekend in Granada. After two years in Spain, this was our first vacation outside the Comunidad. Shameful, considering the amount there is to see in this beautiful.


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March 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm Comment (1)

Granada – Hammam, Arabic Baths

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By the end of our trip to Granada, we were physically and mentally exhausted. In just a few days, we had seen so much, and had been running around the city like maniacs, indulging only in short pauses for tapas and beer. La Alhambra, Cartucha, the Alpujarras, Lorca’s House, etc, etc. So we decided a fitting final undertaking would be a dip & massage at an Arabic bathhouse.

Arabic Bath Granada

Having been the capital of Al-Andalus for centuries, Granada’s Arabic influence is still very strong. You see it in the architecture, restaurants and street markets. And our last day in the city was a very oriental one — a great meal in an Arabian restaurant, then tea, baklava and cherry-flavored shisha at a cafe. Relaxing, and put us in the perfect mood for a bath.

Hammam, the Arabian bathhouse we chose, is very centrally located, along the river Duerro. Unfortunately, the night we showed up also happened to be couples night. Advice: unless you want to share the pools with horny teenagers practically f*#@ing each other, avoid couples night.

Tongue-swallowing horndogs aside, we had a great time at Hammam. It started with a back massage, and then we were released into the baths. There were 3 different pools, filled with warm, hot and cold water, that you’re meant to alternate between. We took advantage of a resting area with tea, a sauna and a large, hot stone slab to lie upon.

In all, we probably spent an hour in the various rooms. The interior of the bathhouse was awesome — it was clean and tastefully done in Arabic style, and I would’ve believed that we were in Turkey. A great end to our stay in Granada.

Link: Arabic Bath in Granada

We didn’t get a lot of pictures of Hammam’s interior (for obvious reasons) but enjoy the images of Granada’s Arabian influence….

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March 5, 2010 at 5:10 pm Comment (1)

Granada – Bodega Barranco Oscuro in Las Alpujarras

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Midway into our drive through the Alpujarras, we stopped at Bodega Barranco Oscuro, a small family-run winery near Cádiar. It was the off-season, and just after 5pm, so I think the owner was a bit surprised to see our car ambling up the muddy path. Two huge dogs bounded towards us in greeting, and we let them guide us to the bodega’s doors.


The owner was extremely gracious — her husband and son were on tour in France, but she let us in and introduced us to their selection of wines. The interior of the bodega was neat; it had just been recently redone and sported wooden tables for wine tastings and enormous windows showing off a magnificent view over the Alpujarras and the Mediterranean. On a clear day, she said, you could even see to Morocco.

After we tasted the Pinot, we were taken on a little tour of the bodega. The current family has been running the show for about a decade, making all-natural wine with the grapes grown in the unique, cool mountain conditions. And the house has a history of wine-making going back hundreds of years. We saw the press and barrels, and then the ancient storage area, not in use anymore. Juergen was in Photographer’s Heaven.

We spent too much money, but the wines really are great. If you’re in the area, we definitely recommend popping in to Barranco Oscuro, especially during the harvest season. They have a website and blog with news and information here.

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March 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm Comments (6)

Granada – Las Alpujarras

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The second half of our Granada day trip took us east from Almuñécar along the Costa Tropical and then north into the Alpujarras. A gorgeous mountain district of Granada, las Alpujarras contain a number of picturesque villages spread across the habitable spots of the Sierra Nevada. Comprised entirely of white houses, the villages resemble errant spots of snow on the mountains, when seen from a distance.


Our path wound through a number of poetically-named towns: Albondón, Cádiar, Bércheles, Juviles. In between each, we soaked up the mountainous landscape, looking back over the Mediterranean. Our favorite was Trevélez — the highest recognized town in Spain at 1486 meters above sea level. As we arrived, the sun was setting over the town, nestled in a snowy valley with shadows falling across the white rooftops, and the effect was incredibly romantic. Trevélez is known for its cured hams, and we made sure to sample some.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to idle about, as driving through the Alpujarras during the night wasn’t an adventure we wanted to partake in. On the way back to Granada, we saw a fireworks display over the town of Lanjarón. It felt like they were just for us; a perfect conclusion to an incredible day.

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February 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm Comments (2)

Granada – La Cartuja

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After the city cathedral and royal chapel, the most important religious building in Granada is La Cartuja, on the grounds of the University.


The name derives from monks of the Carthusian order. Very serious, very austere and, apparently, very given to be murdered in the most barbaric ways imaginable. If you are into Monk Torture… well, you should probably get some serious counselling, but before you do: indulge in one last fling at La Cartuja. Stabbed, shot, disemboweled… the complex is decked out in paintings of holy brothers being slain.

Besides the awesome Monk Death paintings, the Cartuja is worth visiting for its chapel and sacristy, constructed in the 18th century.

The Carthusians are some kooky mother fuckers. Even today, they live a life of seclusion and quiet prayer, as cut off from the outside world as possible. Their order in Granada is no longer active, but there’s one near Valencia — the Porta Coeli Charterhouse. If you’re interested, a recent movie about Carthusians won a lot of awards: Into Great Silence, by Philip Gröning.

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February 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm Comment (1)

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