I arrived into Granada with a dead phone, no idea where my hostel was and a really bad hangover. Jumping in a cab, I didn’t even know what to tell the driver. “Donde?” he asked me while flicking through the Spanish radio stations.
Finally, the hostel name came to me. “Oasis ahh backpacker?” I told him in excitement. He looked at me puzzled and handed me his phone with a Google search open.
Five euros later, I made it to my hostel. Absolutely starving, I put my pack down and ventured off to find some yummy food. As I began walking through the Arabic influenced streets, two men called out to me. Without even realising, I turned around and we made eye contact.
Just a tip to solo female travellers; never ever make eye contact with a man, especially if he is trying to talk to you. Why? Well, because they will follow you.
Arabic influences in Granada, Spain
These two men followed me for quite some time. I managed to stay on the busy streets, but they just wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I found refuge in a little kebab shop, which was fairly busy. I thought I had escaped these guys, until I saw them waiting for me outside, staring at me with a disgusting look on their faces.
After a while, they disappeared and I ran back to my hostel. At that stage, I didn’t like Granada at all and actually felt a little unsafe. That was until I entered my room and was greeted by my new roommates, aka Julio and Consuela, who had given me the nickname Shakira. It was apparently a thing they did in Spain where everyone had a different, exotic name.
That night we went out for tapas and drinks. If you don’t know the tradition in Granada, it goes a little something like this. When you order a drink at a bar, you’re given tapas for free! Amazing, right?!
We hopped from bar to bar and ended up meeting a lovely Canadian couple (could’ve guessed they were lovely without me saying it) as we stumbled through the city drinking tinto verano (red wine, lemonade and ice) and eating paella and jamon (cured ham).
After a few days of exploring, we started our final day together at noon as we ventured off to grab ‘breakfast’. Julio decided he was going to go out for a drink and tapas, so of course I tagged along.
One drink and tapas turned into eight drinks and we ended up getting back to the hostel at 5:00pm. We got ready and joined Consuela who was waiting for us to watch the Flamenco. She had brought about six new backpackers and we had a few with us as well. The group was ever expanding.
Pura Vida! with Juan, Juanita, Julio, Consuela, Alejandro, Enrique, Lucia, Rosa & Carmen
The flamenco is a must in Spain. I had never seen anything like it. With the passion and love in the dancers eyes, the performance was so powerful and left us speechless. I can still hear the music and beat when I close my eyes.
The night carried on as we hopped from bars to clubs. With tinto verano, mojitos and shots, you can imagine how crazy the night got, especially since Julio and I had been drinking since noon.
I crawled back to my hostel at 7:30am and I had to be on a train at 9:00am to make my way towards Lisbon, which was going to be a very long journey. As I got off the train from Granada and into Madrid, the hangover had hit, very hard. I had a nine-hour stop in Madrid as I waited for my overnight train towards Portugal. Too sick to do anything, I put my backpack down in the middle of Madrid Atocha train station, and took an uncomfortable nap with a police guard standing next to me the entire time.
As my next train was from a different station, I jumped on the metro to begin the journey. I have never felt so sick in my entire life that I had to get off the metro three times as I thought I would be physically ill. It was at that moment where I just wanted to be in my warm bed and needed someone to tell me it was going to be all right. I stretched out on the metal seat at the metro and cried for a solid amount of time because the pain was too much.
Finally getting on the overnight train to Lisbon, I started to feel a little better after taking advantage of the disable bathroom in Madrid. With its facilities, I freshened up and threw away all the clothes I was wearing that crazy night in Granada (the full story is quite vulgar), and cleaned myself up. Even though the hangover was the worst thing I had encountered, Granada will always be one of the best times in my life and one of my favourite places in the world.