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I’ll be holing up temporarily in Granada, Spain. It’s a nice place, based on my own five days of initial exposure.
I stayed at two different hostels. The first, Posada de Colón, was rudimentary. Everything in order, but a very crowded room and a less than comfortable bed. Decent location in an area with plenty of pubs and restaurants, though, and €16 a night isn’t bad for 10-beds-to-a-room dormitory accommodations.
The second hostel, Oasis, was wonderful. A big old villa at the lower end of the Albaicín district, tucked on a little side street next to what I think was a mosque or Islamic cultural center. Bigger rooms, comfier beds, a bar open from 6 to midnight with a very affable Polish bartender, nice patio seating outside, big roof terrace with great views. €18/night the first two days, €15/night the last day, when I moved into a cheaper room with more beds. The only downer was the internet service. I gave the guys at the desk some tips on positioning their wifi access point a bit better to provide more reliable coverage.
I did a lot of walking around the city, checking out different districts, both in the course of looking at rooms for rent and just to find out which areas I might like to live in. Albaicín is pretty cool for its winding streets and ragtag organic jumble of buildings, but having to hike up a hillside to get home at any given time didn’t seem too inviting. El Centro, the core of the city, is wonderful. Perhaps the most organic city layout I’ve ever seen — nothing as jumbled and random like it exists in the US, except perhaps for Boston. Tons of great eateries available, a number of lovely small parks, and teeming with street life.
Zaidín, south of the center, seemed okay, as did the small intervening district. Didn’t get much of a chance to explore it, though, since I was there on a Sunday afternoon and pretty much everything was shuttered for the day. Certainly a quieter district than the center, even though it’s more heavily populated. Realejo looked like a nice place to live, but I wasn’t finding anything available there in my price range. I checked out one place in Cartuja, far out from the center 40 minutes on foot. At only €100/month for modest room in a 3-bedroom apartment, the price was right, but the distance from everything was just too great, and the neighborhood — made up of a number of massive 10-story apartment buildings — didn’t strike me as at all appealing.
I ended up taking a room in Barrio Los Pajaritos. Not exactly in the center, but only 20 minutes’ walk away. A fully modern building on a minor side street, nicely appointed and maintained 4-bedroom apartment, and only 5 minutes from a supermarket, a couple of pubs and restaurants and a large number of other retail establishments. My three new housemates — early-to-mid-twenties guys, all — seem like an affable bunch. €180/month plus utilities for a fairly spacious room with double bed, lots of closet space and a bookshelf. I bought a desk from the guy who was moving out, but he wouldn’t part with the very comfy-looking leather office chair he had, so I’ll have to sort that out pretty soon.
The pace of life in Spain will take some getting used to. A lot of businesses close for siesta, as much as three hours in the afternoon. Crowds up people turn out on the streets at times I wouldn’t expect, having lived with the distinctly different rhythms of Bratislava for the past five years.
There’s a huge amount of anarchist graffiti in Granada. Some of it’s pure wildcat stuff like “MATⒶ NAZIS Y POLITICOS” (“KILL NAZIS AND POLITICIANS”), while the rest is more in line with traditional syndicalist rabble-rousing. There’s also a great many street posters from groups affiliated with CNT-AIT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo – Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores, National Confederation of Labor – International Workers’ Association), which included my favorite lines: Tu vota no es tu voz, es su carroña. Si quieren comer, que trabajen, no votes, haz algo; organízate y lucha! (“Your vote is not your voice, it is their carrion. If they want to eat, let them work. Don’t vote, do something; organize and fight!”). A great many of the posters are in solidarity with Amadeu Casellas, Spain’s modern “Robin Hood”, who took part in bank robberies to fund labor struggles which landed him in prison for the past couple of decades. A demonstration supporting him was planned for yesterday at the regional parliament (I think), but I didn’t have time to check that out.
If any readers have friends or contacts in the area, I’d love to hear from you — assuming you’d want to introduce me to your friends and contacts, of course. 🙂
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