Over the next few months we will begin preparations to start our nomadic, wandering way of life. First stop – Granada, Spain. Because of Jeff’s ability to freelance from anywhere in the world as a multi-media developer (as long as there is an internet connection) we realized that we have a unique and perfect opportunity to travel the world without going broke in the process. Before we begin a family, we want to have already experienced living in many places so that when we do have kids, it will be easier to integrate them into that lifestyle. Of course moving across the world without exact long-term plans is scary, but the inevitable regret of not doing this when we have the opportunity and while we’re young and sans children, is much scarier to us. Utah will always be home base, especially when the kids are young and for frequent visits, but for now, adventure awaits us to wander the wild.
So why Granada? Originally it was Cape Town, South Africa, but we realized that was a bit extreme for the very first move of our world grand tour. A move like that would also be really expensive and more permanent, so it’s not off the list, just pushed down a ways. Both of us began to have reservations about Cape Town and both of us independently thought Spain was a perfect starting ground. Jeff already speaks Spanish; it’s is a little rusty, but more than adequate. Plus Spain is in the middle of a number of places we want to go in the Mediterranean, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece. After deciding on Spain, picking the city was a pretty simple choice. One Google search of“best place to live in Spain”and it was obvious that Granada was the only choice. Mountains, beaches, Moorish architecture, flamenco, tapas, churros and dipping chocolate. So why Granada? Why not?
In anticipation of all the questions from interested family and friends (and mostly anxious mothers), I thought I would put together an overview of Granada. Of course, you can find most of this on Wikipedia, but my version is much more handsome.
Granada city is the capital of the province of Granada within the autonomous community on Andalusia. On the left map, Andalusia is the most southern region and on the right, the province of Granada is highlighted in yellow. Prime real estate right on the Med. In the city proper, the pop. is 250,000 with the entire area at about 475,000. For that area, it’s a fairly large population with tight rows of white-washed apartments, but the city is dotted with parks and plazas and patios filled with trees and flowers. The city lies at the base of Sierra Nevada mountain range and it’s a short drive to a world-class ski resort. Drive 45 minutes south through olive groves and fields of grazing sheep and you’re at the beach.
There is so much to do within the city. I love that you can choose to be surrounded by lots of people at a sidewalk cafe or be more secluded in the nearby hills or parks. A long hike up one of the hills finally rewards you with the greatest view, the Alhambra.
Moorish poets once called it“a pearl set in emeralds”alluding to the colors of the palace buildings set within the surrounding gardens and forest.
Built by the Moors in 889, it started out at as small fortress and over the centuries was neglected, fell into disrepair, finally renovated, expanded and turned into a royal palace.
It was the last stronghold of the Moors until the region was overthrown by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492, just months before they granted Columbus an audience.
All around town there are lots of shops for Moroccan lanterns and rugs, Spanish pottery and ceramics, and touristy trinkets like Man of La Mancha figurines.
After a long day filled with walking the sites of the town (or by motorcycle perhaps in our case), it’s time to sample some Spanish cuisine.
Tapas are essentially mini appetizers on skewers or platters. They vary in endless combos of ham, olives, pickles, peppers, onions, tomatoes, fish, breads, and fruits.
Mealtimes are a little different in Spain. Breakfast 8-10. Lunch 2-4. Dinner 8-11. Many places still offer huge lunches and then close for a siesta in the hottest part of the day, followed by a late evening dinner. Somewhat like tea time to tide yourself over until the next meal, tapas have become a normal part of life in Spain.
Granada has developed notoriety for being one of the few places left in Spain that serves free tapas with a drink or wine purchase.
Unlike many other places in the world, the Roma gypsies that live in Granada are welcomed and respected members of the community. And although Flamenco music and dance are Andalusian in origin, in this region they are associated with the Romani people.
Living in the community of Sacromonte, the Romanis have carved homes into cave like structures in the side of the hills. The area has become a major tourist attraction in Granada for Flamenco and musical performances in these tiny carved out homes.
Did I mention we’ll primarily be wandering the wild by motorcycle? Also, wherever we go, we hope to host as many visitors as we can in our home. So once we get settled, we’ll let you know when to purchase an air mattress and start planning your trip!