We awoke to a steady rain in Benalmadena, so we did not rush to depart, and lingered with Cathy over a breakfast of toast and coffee. We arrived in Granada after a rainy drive from Benalmadena. Our first thought had been to go directly to the hotel, drop our bags, and then find the train station to return the car. Our meanderings, however, led almost directly to the train station, so the plans were changed and we dropped the car and took a taxi to the hotel, letting the taxi driver find our way. A much better plan. We checked into the Hotel Plaza Nueva, and went across the street for a tapas lunch standing at the bar at Los Diamantes, which is known for seafood, mostly fried. With each round of wine we were given a free tapa, first shrimp and then mushrooms. We also ordered 2 half-raciones, razor clams and chicken nuggets. It’s good food, the place is very crowded, and service is fast. I would not choose it for dinner, but for lunch it works out nicely.
Hotel website: http://www.hotel-plazanueva.com/
Los Diamantes website: http://www.barlosdiamantes.com/
We then took a walk along the river and up the steep hills of the Albaicin, the old Arab quarter, to take in the view of the Alhambra from the mirador of San Nicolas and to scout out a possible restaurant for tomorrow evening. There is a bus that covers the same territory, and unless you are in training for Olympic mountain climbing, I would suggest the bus. Gravity took us back down to the Plaza Nueva, where we took a break at the hotel before another stroll to check out some other dining options.
Dinner was at Damasqueros, on the street of the same name, and not to be confused with the bar of the same name at the other end of the street. The food here was a modern take on traditional dishes, and only a tasting menu is served, for 39 euros.The dishes are too intricate to describe, but ingredients included anchovies, chicken, cod, pork cheeks, and a clafouti-like dessert with quince, vanilla ice cream, and quince cream. With a bottle of a red from the Granada region, the bill was just over 100 euros. We enjoyed it very much. The rain had returned for our stroll back to the hotel, but it did not intimidate the late revelers who crowded under awnings and doorways.
Saturday began with a trip to the Alhambra. We had already been there in 2010, but unwisely had not invested in the audio guide, and suffered for it, as there are no signs with explanations anywhere. This time we used the audio guides to get a better understanding of the history and use of what we were seeing. It was a beautiful, sunny, cool day, which made it an even greater pleasure to walk about, and the gardens were still full of color. It was, however, a Saturday, which drew out the local crowds on top of the usual obnoxious foreign tourists, all posing for animal crackers and taking “selfies”.
After a brief stop at the hotel, we found our way to La Criolla Gastrobar for a tapas lunch. This was another highly recommended venue on Tripadvisor, and it was both superb and dirt cheap. We ordered a bottle of Rey Sagal 2011, a local red, for 15 euros. With that we received 6 tapas, served in 3 double portions. First was a house-made ravioli, second a fried fish with aioli and sauteed cabbage, and last a perfect paella. We could have stopped with that but wanted to try a couple more items, so we ordered a half racion of seared tuna, and then a tiramisu for dessert. The total bill was 28,50 euros.
After lunch, we strolled around the area and then over to the cathedral, which we did not go into as we had done that four years ago and did not feel a necessity to repeat.
We continued exploring the pedestrian area around the cathedral and the various plazas, which were filled with locals and tourists, and made a quick detour through the mercado, which was starting to close up, but was still teeming with families and lots of little children. Then it was back to the hotel to relax before dinner.
For dinner, we decided on Puerta del Carmen, another Tripadvisor favorite which also happened to be just a couple of blocks from the hotel.
The restaurant was busy and lively, with a charming atmosphere, the food, though fairly traditional, was delicious, and the menu quite varied. We had burrata with sardines and tomato salsa, grilled octopus, baby lamb chops and presa Iberica, all prepared with skill and care. For dessert we had a “special cake” that I can only describe as a Spanish version of Martha Washington cake. With a bottle of Fontenei tinto 2010 and water, the total was 113 euros.