Gay and Grand Granada, Spain

By @ 04/18/17 in Gay travel, Louis Boshoff, ManAboutWorld, Travel

Gay Grand Grenada in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine
If you’re looking for a place out of the fray after having done big city Spain, the unexpected gentle jewel of Granada is an excellent option and has captivated many an adventurer with its history, proximity to the Mediterranean and its laid back attitude.

It’s definitely a destination for leisure, excitement and curiosity. The ancient city lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and is the sacred heart of this warm and welcoming southern part of Spain, having been Roman, Moorish and Christian with a long history of independence, it is a tolerant melting pot of traditions, cultures and customs with warm, friendly and hot locals. Granted, the weather might play a mighty part in that, the lifestyle is ultra al fresco and suntanned; the same goes for the small delicious dishes called ‘tapas’, which is basically a selection of mediterranean starters for lack of a lengthier description; the best news however being that in Granada it is complimentary with your drink at most establishments, putting a whole new spin on pub-crawling; it’s more of a tasting adventure with bars throughout town taking great pride in their accompaniments. (Story by Louis Boshoff; photos by Dirk Wijs.)Gay Grand Grenada in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

A basic visit would be anything from 2 days minimum to a week, (ideal en-route from the Madrid Pride to the coast), centering around the major historical attractions and depending on how much time is available, a lot more. Typically one would be approaching from Seville, since it has a major airport which connects to some European and International destinations with affordable connecting flights to Granada’s Frederico García Lorca Airport; named after their famous gay-homeboy-poet. By car or train it’s about a 3 hours with olive groves dotting the scenery.Gay grand Grenada in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

The season for Granada is an exceptionally long one, with the best time to visit being of course during spring, when nature is at its greenest with good weather and the almond trees flourishing in the hillsides if the Alpujarras for example. From April till June temperatures are still moderate (compared to the blazing heat of July and August) and the sunsets are particularly impressive this time of the year. Summer is naturally the ‘time of the tourist’ in most of Andalusia and Granada is no exception. Temperatures may soar into the 30’s and 40’s whilst nearly everything shuts down from 3 pm until 6 pm to take shelter. Autumn temperatures remain around 25° C till the end of October with fewer tourists and shorter queues concluding the warmer parts of the year.Gay grand Grenada in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Still when winter comes it changes quite radically, one week can make the difference, but that is of course also of interest to those who like to ski. The Sierra Nevada Mountains is particularly famous for it having hosted the ’96 World Alpine Ski Championships, so between end November and the end of April it’s definitely possible to add skiing to your things to do list.

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Gay grand Grenada in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineWhere We Stay
Since Granada is relatively small and navigation centres around 3 or 4 large avenues you can take your pick of the neighbourhoods in the old town without fear of missing out.

The centrally located Palacio De Santa Paula is a renovated convent and ideal for making the most of short stays . A more boutique option with the same historical slant in the Albayzín district is the 25 room Hotel Casa 1800 and the Hotel Casa Morisca both elegantly renovated from centuries old houses. They are perfectly exotic and romantic with some rooms having views on the Alhambra.

The Grande Dame of Granada must surely be the 5 star Palacio de los Patos which has everything one expects from a hotel of this nature and being part of an old palace only adds to it’s grandeur.

For longer stays in Granada and those wishing to explore the surrounding areas, or get married the Hotel Cortijo del Marqués outside of town may be just the right combination of history and fantasy. It’s chapel and manor house has been respectfully restored and original features have been maintained to give the hotel a distinguished rural air.

If you don’t require your hotel to be a reflection of the city’s history and feel more comfortable in something generic, then the Hotel Villa Oniria is for you, a small modern classic and stylish four star hotel with a spa option and home to the gourmet restaurant La Fabula.Gay Grand Grenada by Louis Boshoff in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Where We Eat:
Across town you will bear witness to the tapas tradition of Granada, whether you are savouring a Rioja or simply downing a beer, these bars will serve up small little plates of local delights as accompaniments. Simply choose an alley and aim for the busiest spot, they are often filled with locals since the more touristic (read predictable and pricey) tapas bars are found on more prominent locations; you might miss the view but not the entertainment; a great number of these tucked away haunts just off the Calle Elvira has impromptu acts performed by local flamenco artists any night of the week.

The cuisine of Granada varies from middle eastern delights to traditional Spanish but olive oil remains an unsurprising constant. Bodegas Espadafor just off Gran Via de Colon has been renowned since it’s inception in 1910 for its roast pork and sherry. The eclectic tiled interior with feria posters and barrels of sherry is generally busy with a crowd of local old timers and young students, which is a testament to the value for money to be had.

Romanilla 530 which is located on a square in central Granada is an ideal pit stop after visiting the cathedral or shopping, the menu is a generous mixture of Mediterranean classics and local favourites. A short walk away on Plaza Nueva you’ll find a busy alternative for seafood lovers called Bar Los Diamantes  which has a few outlets around town. The vibe may be hectic but the food is delectable and it’s a great location for watching the town go about it’s day or night.

A place like La Fabula is clearly a more formal gourmet experience with a wine paired menu of sophisticated dishes and starters priced at just shy of 20€ , it would be the ideal place to go for a special occasion or perhaps a marriage proposal. El Mercader on the other hand is a more humble establishment but their elegant contemporary dishes are all the rage, their prices may be more affordable but be prepared to be let down at the door without prior reservation. Their style is a creative approach to the cuisine of southern Spain and for the adventurous foodie it is well worth the visit.
Speaking of worth the visit, the Heladeria Los Italianos on Gran Via de Colon is one of those places that should carry a health warning, it is an unforgettable institution which you will regret visiting and never forgive yourself if you don’t, you’ll understand it when you get there. The shop basically consists of a 20m long marble counter with chandeliers behind which neatly uniformed assistants serve every variety and combination of homemade ice-cream, there simply aren’t enough days in a year to try them all.Gay Grand Grenada by Louis Boshoff in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Where We Meet:
Saunas or bathhouses are strangely lacking in this town given its background, but it does make up for it in other ways; for the water lovers there is a thermal natural mineral spring just outside of town called the ‘Pozas de Santa Fe’ with natural pools on different levels, the lowest and largest one being renowned for night time cruising.

The other nearby spot, Playa de Cantarrijan lies on the scenic Costa Tropical and is a nudist beach for the most part, although not compulsory; the last part of it is mainly occupied by gay men.
Besides a few local and traditional gay bars like Tic-Tac the more adventurous destination is probably Club Septimo Cielo where the only restriction is a demand for mutual respect.

Where We Shop:
Granada’s souvenir shopping reminds a lot of a Moroccan Medina and considering the city’s history it’s not surprising to find small streets like the Alcaicería and Calle Calderería Nueva selling similar leather goods, textiles, ceramics, rugs and lamps. Familiar Spanish clothing retailers like Zara, Massimo Dutti, Camper and Desigual are located with other international brand stores on or close to one of the main avenues; Calle Recogidas. Many of the side streets also contain interesting family businesses and clothing stores but if you’re really in a pinch with your wardrobe, El Corte Inglés which stocks basically everything else is on Carrera Genil in the centre.

Between the Calle Reyes Católicos and Calle Ermita you’d find a warren of less commercial little stores ranging from fashion to art supplies, it’s here that you’ll find that the odd antique store selling old bull fighting posters and other collectables.

One of the life savers of Granada and good to keep in mind is the Opencor supermarket on Paseo de la Bomba which is open until 2am for all those midnight essentials.

What We Do:
The diversity of Granada is difficult to express but if there is one place to visit, it is the Alhambra not only for its exotic beauty and dreamy hillside atmosphere, not only for its architecture or gardens, not even only for its history, but for its spirit. It is a transportive sanctuary and between the buildings and the Generalife gardens you can bargain on a whole day’s visit. Depending on your energy levels, you can choose to walk the scenic route up or you can take the small shuttle departing from Plaza Isabel la Catolica. Book online in advance, be on time to allow for the queue at the entrance, and don’t even consider buying a ticket excluding the extraordinary Nasrid Palaces, they are the heart and soul of the complex and the dynasty who ruled here.

Another historic event is the baroque Cathedral and the tombs of King Fernando of Aragorn and Queen Isabel of Castille, who basically birthed catholic Spain, in the Capilla Real next door.

Notable other spots would be the Centro Frederico Garcia Lorca which is close to the Cathedral, hosting cultural exhibits and events throughout the year and his summer house Huerta de San Vincente which has been a museum paying homage to the poet for the last 20 years.

The UNESCO heritage site of Albayzín is one of the oldest neighbourhoods and its narrow winding Moorish streets have been inhabited uninterruptedly since the eleventh century, it has a very distinctive character with many monuments scattered across the hillside. A fine way to walk off a Sunday lunch exploring en-route to your early evening tapas with a sunset view on the Alhambra.

Likewise the adjacent Sacramento neighbourhood offers a spectacular view on the picturesque Darro valley and consist of roads winding past early gypsy settler caves adorned with copper pots and reverberating with the familiar clapping sounds of the flamenco.

In the Know:
Tracking down a good travel guide is almost like finding the right boyfriend. He has to be open minded but not disinterested, knowledgable but not a know-it-all. Fun, friendly, flexible and foremost dependable; like Dirk Wijs, Facebook, or YouTube, as a photographer and guide he has visited most in-the-know spots in Granada, speaks English and has the inroad to many of the city’s secrets, stories and sites; besides he’ll also turn your holiday snaps into memorable masterpieces. You can view some examples on his Instagram profiles :  @dirkwijsphotography & @awalkwithdirk

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