Granada is a city that, to me, is unparalleled in culture, history, attitude, inspiration, and charm. Whether you’re taking a stroll along the Darro River or you’re exploring the ancient cobblestone labyrinth of the Albayzin, somewhere along the way, Granada steals your heart.
Because of its rich culture and the infusion of various traditions, Granada brings out a supreme level of creativity in all who visit. This could be why you find such an alternative crowd of nomadic gypsies, lost artists, and street performers, and it is no coincidence that I happened to meet a certain happy-go-lucky Parisian tourist named Eric in Granada. Our day together reminded me that exploring a city should be playful and creative. Our interaction went something like this:
The story starts out like any other day exploring a city by foot. I’m happily strolling through a Moroccan street in old town Granada, taking in the sights and smells. There are hookah bars, deliciously spicy Moroccan food, camel leather, and eccentric shops with overpriced nics and nacs galore.
On this particular morning, I’m on a search for the graffiti area of the city as I heard it was an explosion of creative expression, and I had to see this! I open my map, searching unsuccessfully until I realize the map was upside down. I begin searching again after laughing at myself. A few moments pass when an equally jolly tourist with a mix matched patterned shirt and shorts in his late 50’s approaches me.
“Hello! What are you searching for?” he asks me through an extremely French accent.
I explain to him that I am looking for the graffiti street.
“Ah, yes…ze graffiti iz amazing! It is zis way,” he says as he points to a part of the map.
I thank him and begin walking in that direction. As I continue walking, I notice that he is walking steadily next to me with a smile on his face. We begin talking and I discover he’s from Paris and is extremely proud of that, like most Parisians are. After ten minutes of walking together and deciphering what he is saying through his thick French accent, I accept the fact that I am no longer exploring the city alone today.
At first I feel resistance to this, but then, I decide to go with the flow of what is happening. He is, after all, traveling alone and we have good conversation, yet as a woman traveling alone, I am also hyper aware of my surroundings and instincts. Growing up, you learn to be cautious of strangers, to never trust anyone, things like that. I think what should really be taught is to trust your instincts and inner knowing. As I listen to this part of myself, I feel that a day of sightseeing with my new Parisian friend would be a delightfully spontaneous adventure.
After some time walking and talking, we find a street with graffiti, yet I’m not too sure it is THE graffiti street, but from there, we continue our adventure to the exterior area of the Alhambra, which is the palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs who ruled over the land back in the day.
As we marvel at the architecture and beauty of the Alhambra, an unprompted photoshoot of sorts unfolds. Eric suggests I do a funny pose on this fountain that’s a probably a million years old.
“Turn to ze left a leetle bit. Now do sumsing funny!” he instructs.
“No, no, not like zis,” he says disapprovingly.
“Why don’t you try?” I say to him with the slightest attitude.
He jumps onto the fountain and starts making ridiculous poses. It feels like everyone is staring but he is having too much fun to notice or care.
And the day went on like this, joking and posing ridiculously in front of ancient fountains the way that only real tourists could. It taught me an important lesson of being playful and not caring so much about what others think. I was grateful to have spent the day with a stranger who became a friend.
At the end of the day, we ate tapas at my favorite tapas bar, wished each other well, and went on our merry way as solo travelers once again.