Katie Martorano is a student at Rowan University and an ISA featured blogger. Katie is currently abroad ISA in Granada, Spain.
It always sounds so nice to go explore the city for the afternoon. Maybe you’ll try to go that little tapas bar your friend suggested, or go find a good place to buy cheap peanut butter that some girl in your class had the other day. After class, you mark up your map and go on your way. But what do you do when five streets later the map suddenly starts to look more and more like a maze? What about when you mistake the pretty tiled street signs on the sides of buildings for art? And most importantly, what do you do when your phone dies and you’re stuck next to some fountain somewhere with only five euro in your pocket?
First off, don’t panic! This happens to me more often that I’d like to admit. However, getting lost has taught me more about Granada than any tour or map. My favorite walking tour is one that involves a lot of wandering with no particular direction in mind. If you ever get lost, remember that Spaniards offer directions as readily as they offer you food (which is often). Don’t let the fear of being lost keep you from an adventure! One time, the sweetest lady walked me all the way down a street to make SURE I got to the correct street corner before I went on my way. The amount of hand motions she used could direct and successfully land a plane.
Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely necessary to see all the tourist destinations like the Alhambra, Albayzin, Cathedral, etc. But how fun is it to see something no one can show you from a post card?
When I first arrived in Granada, I walked the same exact route daily to my classes in the CLM building. I went to the same little café (Café Belle) every morning for coffee. But one Sunday, my friends and I walked all the way to our “favorite café” just to find it was closed. Bummer, right?
It was the opposite! We literally walked down the street, turned a few times, and a whole new part of Granada opened up. None of us had ever gone beyond the American touristy café with pictures of London up all over the walls. Little did we know, a precious little Arabian style café was nestled right by us for weeks. The windows were dressed with dainty red curtains and ornate lanterns hung from the ceiling, creating a warm glow. Decorative pillows covered all the seats and candles flickered on the tables. To top it all off, it smelled like fresh tea and crepes (Which we proceeded to order ASAP to aid in our studying. Brain food, of course).
After our stomachs were properly full, we tried to re-navigate our way back to the CLM, but kept getting side-tracked. We couldn’t help but keep following the elaborate street art, Moroccan shops, and lit-up fountains. In every street, something new and lovely would reveal itself. Even though I knew we were getting more and more lost, I had never felt so at home.
This is the magic of Granada. If you find yourself out of your comfort zone, the city will show you its heart.