|Step 1: step out of the apartment|
As you walk out of the apartment door you have a choice: tiny elevator with a 4 person weight limit, or three flights of stairs. (Hint: Always choose the stairs.)
As you step outside your senses immediately go into overdrive. It’s midafternoon, right before siesta time. The sun is shining, people are bustling by, rushing to get in some shopping or errands before lunch. You start walking down Calle Reyes Catolicas, the main road, toward the Alhambra (a huge castle and tourist attraction). Cars are whizzing by, honking at each other and pedestrians. Sirens are blaring every now and then. You catch bits of the conversations around you.
You pass by several restaurants and cafes. The sound of clinking dishes fills your ears as the smells of their food simultaneously waft to your nostrils. First olive oil from a restaurant on the right, then a sweet smell from the pastry shop next door. Then – suddenly – everything changes as you walk past a clothing store and right through the wall of perfume permeating from the open doors.
After walking just a few minutes on Calle Reyes Catolicas just past Plaza Nueva and the fountain of Isabel la Catolíca, you turn right on Cuesta de Gomerez. Although you can still hear cars honking, it’s more like a distant memory. This road, which has a smattering of shops for tourists, is less crowded. Instead of food and perfume, you smell leather and incense from the Arab shops. The streets are similar, cobblestoned and narrow with ancient buildings looming above on both sides.
|Step 2: Enjoy the scenery, even if it is hard work|
The road quickly starts to slope upward and you come to three arches in a giant stone gate. Just beyond you can hear schoolchildren laughing on a field trip to the Alhambra. People are taking pictures underneath the arch before walking through. The arch is almost like the gateway to the Land of Narnia; once you pass under you enter a different world. You’re not in Granada anymore, not really. Instead you’re in a forest of ancient trees, walking up a steep hill. The stream of water racing alongside the pathway fills your ears with a deafening silence unfamiliar to the city life. As you walk up the path, there are statues, stone benches and waterfalls to enjoy when you take a break from the steep climb. Even though the tree cover is too thick for the sun to get through, you somehow feel its heat with every step.
There are less people here, but still plenty during the day. Gypsy women walk around, holding out leaves to tourists so they can read their palms for money.
| This walk is great at any time of day
and is even well-lit at night!
You could wander in this piece of forest for ages or you could visit the Alhambra when you get near the top of the forest. But today, you choose to relax on a bench by a fountain in a pathway in the myriad of garden coves before returning home for lunch.
After visiting a mininature piece of nature, the sounds and smells of the city on the walk back seem unfamiliar and out of place. By the time you get back home, the familiar smell of olive oil and sweet potatoes is exactly what you need to complete your magical tour of an exciting place I get to call home for the next three months.
Amber Johnson is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at Colorado State University.
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