29th May – Wednesday
We did not get too much sleep last night. Tarifa’s wind blew up as predicted, and door banged all night. There was also a lot of people coming and going in the lounge and kitchen, so one or two got a rark up in the wee small hours.
The bus leaves for Malaga at 8.50, so we are out the door soon after 8. At the depot a bus pulls around 8.40, no destination on it, we put our bags on and board, but it is not for us! Oops. The right bus arrives a few minutes late, and has Malaga on the destination, but even so we double check! €34 for two of us.
The drive there takes us through some nice scenery, we are travelling along the Costa del Sol, it is lovely now but must be hell in the season when it is heaving with tourists. Malaga is much bigger than we expected. The bus station is big enough, but the actually have signs that look like they give the right information. Tony goes to use a vending machine to buy the tickets to Granada, he is working through the options when a staff member reaches past him and cancels the transaction. He is more than a little annoyed, especially as there is not even an excuse me, sorry or kiss my arse. She messes around with it shouting at another customer who is shouting back, it seems it was faulty? Tony joins the queue, it is not long, but there is only one counter open and it is slow going as everyone has their 20 questions. He finally gets to the window, and it is the same rude woman who pushed him out of the way at the ticket machine (which by now seems to be working). He asks how much for the next bus to Granada (and hopes it has not sold out!). €23 for the two of us, leaving at 1.15, an express service so will only take a couple of hours.
Another change in scenery as we leave the coast and head into the mountains. Olive trees for Africa along the way, never seen so many before. It is still hot out, around 24 degrees, but no wind.
The bus station at Granada is quite good, and it is easy to find our bus into town. The hostel said to get a #33, and there is one right outside waiting. We cram on with everyone else, it is fairly packed by the time the driver pulls away. €2.40 for two tickets, but if we pay €2 for a transport card we can load 5 or 10 trips and get them cheaper, I think about €0.80. We will look into that later to see how things go, we are not sure we will need the bus much as our hostel is in a really good location, close to the Cathedral. We may well get away with wandering everywhere for the most part.
We get off outside the Cathedral, only a five minute walk from the hostel, which is a little hard to find. We are standing in the road wondering where it is, because according to Mr Google we are outside it. We are in front of two bars, but then spot a narrow doorway between them, and posted inside the doorway, where you cannot see it from the street, is a sign for the hostel. FFS. Cathedral Rooms cost us €26 for two nights, in a two bed room. We got a good deal there!
Check in is at a desk in the narrow hallway, and we are given a list (two pages, small print) of house rules, break any of these and we lose our €30 security deposit, and are likely to heaved out immediately as well. There are the usual rules, but there are a few that are a bit obscure and harsh. We have to remove all rubbish when we leave, take it down to reception, as well as take bedding too. Some notices are contradictory, one in the kitchen says no alcohol at all, the paper one says not to drink so much you are a nuisance, and to remove all empties immediately… We will just use common-sense, clean up after ourselves like we normally do, and not party all night. It is a worry that apparently if you do not have you key to get into the hostel itself, there is a €5 fee to let you in! What the? The list also warns against attepting any repairs, regardless of how big or small they are!!
Tony stuffs things up within the first hour. He has a shower to wake up a bit, but manages to not only flood the bathroom, but also the hall way. Turns out that the shower drain is blocked or very slow draining, the shower doors have gaps at the bottom that allow water through, and the drain in the floor of the bathroom is covered over.
There is a knock on the bathroom door and it is the manager. He is not happy. Tony tells him that there are problems with the drains, and the doors, and shows him where water is getting through. He says Tony needs to be more careful, and he should have cleaned up his mess. This, as Tony is standing there with a dripping bath mat, that being all there is to mop up the water. They must know that it happens all the time because there is a notice up asking to mop the floor after showering, but there is no mop. Tony has a bit of a go at the guy, but chooses his words carefully, he doesn’t want to lose the deposit! He was talking to one of the other staff and they tell him it happens all the time, and they cannot get the owner to fix it, Tony smells a scam to con a few Euro from those who cannot fight back. The bathrooms are a strange set up, all are gender neutral. The two at the end are just a toilet and separate shower, but the bigger one has two showers and a toilet in the room. Bit of a dilemma here – do you lock the outer door when using it? Or risk frightening some poor bugger walking in on you. The door opens out into the hallway, so anyone stepping out of the (small) shower box can be seen if the door is opened.
When we booked we were told there was a kitchen, and there is, one pot, one frying pan, two small elements on the cooker, and a microwave. The fridge is a bar fridge size, for four rooms (about 20 people?). Enough to get by on, but there are only four of us here tonight. If the place was full the lack of bathrooms and kitchen space would be a problem. We expected crockery and cutlery, but there is very little of that, and no mugs or tea cups at all.
Our room was supposed to be just us, but when we are shown in there are six bunks in the room. We are assured that we will be the only ones in here. We ask about the possibility of staying another night, as we are fair shattered, and have not really had a rest day. Yes, we can have this room Friday night, €32 though, as they will be busy and likely to fill up. We check on Booking.com and see that they have only one room available, so figure they are not bullshitting us. We go down and pay for the extra night, and find out we have bought the room, not just the two beds. We really don’t think they have been in the hostel business long. Anywhere else would have charged what we paid per bed.
It is a very hot afternoon, so we leave going out until later, but even after 6pm it is still quite warm. Better than the opposite! We go for a short walk, and find the supermarket across the road. Hard to choose what to get, because there is bugger all room to keep stuff in the fridge, and bugger all cooking utensils to cook with. We get breakfast cereal (chocolate muesli), milk (not yoghurt), eggs, salad, bread and head back to the room for a feed. Most of the bars and restaurants here are cash only, it must be a national pastime here, dodging the tax man! There are a few people begging on the street, claiming to be homeless, some with dogs (to guilt trip you?), some with three or four dogs (what the…?), and others being straight up asking for money to get high.
Not a lot of walking today, maybe 3km if we are lucky.
30th May – Thursday
We slept late, not waking until after 11am, and get up to find the kitchen closed for a full clean. Nice to have been given some warning, but at least it is being done properly.
We spend the afternoon booking tickets for the next leg, and pick a flight from Malaga to Palma, to get to Mallorca on Saturday. We had few options, including a long bus ride to Valencia, but this was the better option. A bit dearer than the others, but when you take into account the extra travel it was worth it. Flights direct from Granada were at inconvenient times, and cost quite a lot.
It is 6pm by the time we leave the room to go walking. We are heading for the Alhambra, and take the long way through the narrow streets. There are lots of shops open now siesta is over. Cynthea takes a liking to a dress, €15 is the price tag on it. The guy is pushy, €10 but you must buy now. Cynthea says she will think about it and come back, he says it will be €15 tomorrow, special price is today only. She asks when he is closing and he says now, because of Ramadan, hmm it is barely past 6pm and no one else looks like they are shutting up. Tony thinks this guy can do one, and we won’t be back. As we walk through the narrow streets, trying not to get too lost in the maze (blocks are not “square”, and streets run off in all directions), we see many more traders but none are as pushy as the first guy. We pass a tea shop, and are surprised to see Cannabis tea for sale with a range of other infusions. No, we didn’t get any.
We are just wandering, heading in the general direction of where we wanted to go, not always the best plan in these places if you have somewhere to be. Tony missed the street we should have turned up, and we turn back to head up the steep street to the Alhambra. More tourist shops, and the dress Cynthea saw earlier was only €10. That was a surprise, given we are in a more touristy area now. Most people who walk up to Alhambra will take this street (if they don’t get lost first).
We come to gates and it is not really clear which way to go, so being us we pick the wrong way, and take the very long way around. Steep cobbled steps, and bloody hot still. Our hostel manager said not to venture out walking before 6pm because of the heat, now we think he needs to revise that, haha. We get to the ticket office, but it is about to close. And apparently you have to book a time days in advance, even when it is not the season. Tony wants to climb the hill for a view of the city, but everywhere is fenced off, and we cannot find a road up there. So we come back down and take the path the other side of the Alhambra, where apparently we can see the occasional building.
What we can see is pretty amazing, and we decide that tomorrow we will not try to get tickets. We are at the ABC stage, another bloody castle/church/cathedral, and that to spend $50 or more to hear a bunch of facts we will forget as soon as we leave is not for us. We definitely need some rest days. It is a long steep walk to the bottom, and find that if we had kept walking from town earlier (where we thought we had missed a turn off), we would have come to this spot. Nevermind, we think that maybe the route we did take would have been far easier for going up. There are some great photos to be taken, and there is a slight regret that we will not see inside what is arguably Spain’s most famous and most photographed site.
We walk along the river (creek) for a bit, and sit in the square listening to music while we wait for sunset. To see the buildings in the last rays is quite a treat, and they are just as nice lit up after dark. We head back to the hotel through the vibrant restaurant area. Streets are now used for dining, and it is very busy. Such a great atmosphere here. There are several bars open in our street as well, and it is busy until wee small hours. A bit of walking today - covered about 6.5km
31st May – Friday
We sleep late again, and after breakfast we spend a bit of time making plans for Ireland and the UK. Torty and Kurt need us to house/pet sit for two weeks in Strathcarron, north west Scotland, so we are heading there mid-June.
We head out for a walk, nowhere in particular, through the maze of alleyways and end up at the river. There must be flooding problems here, the river bed is concreted, as are the high sides of stone work. There are also barriers every few metres that look like they can be raised, good luck with that, there are rocks and stones in the hinges. We follow the river and come to an area that has a deep pool, a few people in swimming. Further upstream from that is a series of man made pools that look idea for swimming, but there is a no swimming sign… not that anyone is taking notice of it.
We walk a couple of kilometres upstream, thinking we can find a road up the hillside, but all the roads start from closer in to town, and then zig-zag their way up the hillside. Cynthea wants to take a bus “anywhere” but Tony is no keen, we have an early start in the morning, and it is near dark. He just wants to get back to the hostel and get ready to go to Palma. We covered around 11km today.