Sporgal #1: Malaga, Granada and monster cones

Home again. No more sitting on cobblestone streets munching on Portuguese egg tarts and supermarket roast chicken; dutifully taking photos like a good tourist and pretending that I came to do more than stuff my face with delicious food.

I spent the past three weeks travelling through southern Spain and Portugal, aka. Sporgal, with a good friend. We spent a lot of time eating and walking; looking at nothing in particular; people-watching and visiting every pastry shop and supermarket we stumbled across. We got good at hunting down ice cream shops (just follow the people holding cones) and getting free samples. We more than happily adopted the ‘wake up late, eat late, sleep late’ Sporguese way of life.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

It started in a nice, little seaside town called Malaga. It was just that…nice, and small. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough, but I found it a bit lacking. There was a nice castle on a hill, there was a nice beach, and there were some nice shops to hide in from the sun. I almost died of heat there. The beach was untouchable until early evening. Also, there were cute little huts whence came delicious smells of roasting fish.

I mean, just look at them. I loitered around one particular restaurant for three hours waiting to sample these.

But if Malaga was nice, the next stop Granada blew me over. I was impressed.

It was not at all how I envisioned Spain. I couldn’t stop marvelling at the clean, shiny streets. My mum would have been pleased with the state of cleanliness.

There’s a really big tapas culture in southern Spain and we had some good stuff there. Googling “where to eat tapas in Granada” led us to a small, drab looking bar in an otherwise touristy street. Los Diamantes, it was very local and within 5 minutes of opening it was already full.

The tapas were excellent – fried seafood, aubergine chips, even…brains. It’s also a speciality of Granada that all drinks come with free tapas and this particular bar was no exception. I was enamoured with my brains: a crisp skin of batter giving way to the creamy, smooth cerebral matter. It tasted like liver with a milder flavour. Delightful.

Apart from the great tapas, Granada also has very strong Moorish influences. There were plenty of Arab tea houses and kebab shops, not to mention a beautiful Moorish palace overlooking the city.

The Alhambra sits on a hill overlooking the city; it looks very grand and impressive from the outside. It’s even more impressive once you step inside – the amount of detailing and craftsmanship inside the palace is stunning.

Naturally, being a city in such a hot climate, there was bound to be ice cream. But in Granada, they really take their ice cream seriously.

We came across a lovely little square with a fountain surrounded by benches. It was midnight and yet, every single bench was occupied by someone eating the frozen stuff. I’ve never seen such a phenomenon before. Of course, there was only one course of action. When in Granada, do as the Granadians do.

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Next: SevillaFaroAgoladaPortoLisboa

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