500 things Spain Travel

500 things – Granada: Party until dawn with gypsies in caves

The entries are pouring in for our ‘500 things to do in Spain before you die’ competition (you can win an iPod shuffle!) When I sent details to my Spain-dwelling friends I never expected to get two entries on the same experience, proving that this must indeed be one of the most memorable things to do in Spain before you die…

First Alistair Wood’s take on the experience:

A night out in the Sacremonte (gypsy quarter) in Granada: Just when you thought everything was shut, make your way through / round the Albaicin (Moorish quarter). The street in question (follow the Carrera del Darro, turn left up Cuesta del Chapiz and then right onto Camino del Sacromonte), leading into the Sacromonte quarter, is lined with bars, many in small caves. Very often you get to see some authentic flamenco performances. The discoteca, ‘Camboria’, is a mini cave system and often packed, well into the early hours. A truly unique Spanish experience. Top this off afterwards by walking to the Mirador de San Nicolas for a spectacular view of the Alhambra with the early morning light.”

I think Mike Coulstock would agree:

Party until dawn with gypsies in caves: One of my most memorable experiences of Spain and one I have tried in vain to reconjure in quite the same way was a night out in the caves of Sacromonte, a short walk uphill from Plaza Nueva in Granada. I was on a weekend away in Granada with a few friends, one of which, Al, knew the city well and acted as tour guide.

We spent the evening doing the usual Spanish thing: drinking and eating tapas, which come free with the drinks there. Then at around two Al took us up the hill to Sacromonte. Instead of taking the direct route our guide took us through the dark narrow back streets of the Moorish Albaicin district which just added to the mystery of the place.

The main strip in Sacromonte is not like any other I’ve seen. It isn’t just that it is lined with bars packed with people overflowing into the streets, areas like that are two-to-a-penny in Spain. But if you take away the neon lights, the bricks, steel and mortar, and replace them with caves and a jaw-dropping view of the Alhambra then you get the Sacromonte twist. Add the sound of guitars, the resounding stamps of the dancers and the mournful laments of the singers and you are well and truly transported to another planet.

We weaved round the ubiquitous throngs of people that come with any Spanish night spot, dodged the broken glass and skipped past a couple of more touristy joints offering pay-to-get-in shows – we were looking for something slightly less contrived, something a bit more improvised, which essentially is at the heart of flamenco.

There were various small bars in caves with singers and guitarists taking turns at performing, some of gypsy origin, others of Spanish origin. All surrounded by their friends cheering them on and helping mark out the complex bulerias and seguirias rhythms with palmadas, rhythmic hand clapping.

The evening didn’t end there. At the end of the street there was one more cave, one almighty huge final cavern boasting an all-night discoteca, which we entered and stayed until around dawn. The surprising thing was that as we were leaving there was a queue of young Granadanians waiting to get in, fresh from the clubs and bars lower down in the city. Had we completely mis-timed things?

Not really. It was great to see the Alhambra at dawn, to meander through the streets behind the Sacromonte in the morning haze, and finally head back into Plaza Nueva for breakfast and then more beer. My head finally hit the sack at midday. Not much rest though, our illustrious guide was knocking on our door at 4pm to take us to the local football match.”

Do you have an experience like this to share with the NFS community? Enter our competition, get in the book, and maybe win the iPod Shuffle!