I only ended up staying in the Albaycín as an accident of hostel availability, and I was certainly grumpy as I arrived in Granada, sick and in need of a shower, only to realize that I had to walk 45 minutes from the bus station straight up a hill, and then through a labyrinth of tiny, identical Medieval streets to find my hostel. I don’t wish those climbing conditions on anyone, but staying in this neighborhood is my best and strongest memory from a month in Spain.
After only six nights in town, I’d befriended a server on Calle Calderería Nueva who invited me to swim with friends in the hot springs, practiced a little Arabic, watched the Alhambra turn purple and then orange from San Sebastian as the sun went down, worked out the siesta schedule, begun to recognize some of the local weirdos, and gotten a sense of how connected the community of Arab tea sellers is. Honestly, I didn’t do much in Granada, and I think that’s why I had such a nice time. I was kind of just around, listening, talking, drinking gifted tea, and watching.
If you walk by at the right times, you hear the call to prayer delivered by an old man from a balcony on one of these tiny streets. I smiled at him, and he smiled back warmly. That’s how Albaycín feels.