Reader Perspective: Traveling Solo in Granada, Spain

by DIWYY · 2 comments

My Spanish adventure was beginning to take a toll on me. I have always been an avid proponent of spontaneous solo travel, which is why I had no problem booking a two week trip to Spain four days in advance. No one I knew had the time or money to accompany me, and I knew from experience that traveling alone is much more rewarding and interesting than traveling with a group. However, rewarding and interesting do not always translate into easy. After a five hour bus ride from Madrid to Granada, I arrived in a new city with no idea where to go and extremely limited Spanish language skills. I was exhausted and slightly motion sick. My forearms and scalp were sunburned. My last meal had been eaten about twelve hours prior. I was an irritable mess.

I hopped on a city bus that my guidebook advised as the fastest route to the center of town. Since no stops were labeled, I had absolutely no idea where to get off. I decided to guess, and immediately after I stepped outside it began to rain. My irritation grew as I found shelter under a doorway and searched my guidebook for help. I found the name of a hostel on the pathetically limited map in the Granada section, and headed into the rain umbrella-less. I planned to find my accommodations, eat, and sleep.

Unfortunately, none of these things were to happen any time soon. I pride myself on having an excellent sense of direction, something I never fail to mention when my boyfriend takes a wrong turn. But Granada had me stumped. It was a maze of twisted alleys, staircases leading to nowhere, and there wasn’t a street sign in sight. As a girl who comes from a city where streets are organized neatly on a grid system, I was perplexed. My guidebook was soon drenched in rain because I consulted it so frequently.

I wandered the rainy streets of Granada with a heavy bag on my shoulder for over two hours. I was absolutely livid; I was supposed to be having the time of my life! Instead, I was cold, wet, lost, and lugging my bag up steep hills. My stomach rumbled as I gazed longingly at a bakery, closed for the night. I felt my eyes grow hot as tears of frustration formed.

Magically, I finally found myself in front of the hostel mentioned in the guidebook. Once again, my guidebook proved to be worthless, as the hostel was boarded up and the book had only been printed a few months prior. Furious with myself for not booking a place in advance, I rang the doorbell anyway. I sat down on the wet pavement and began frantically searching for another place to stay. It was getting dark, and I had no desire to be lost in a new city once the sun had gone down. The damp pages stuck together as I pawed at them, but I located a budget hotel not far from where I was sitting. Once again, I set off, map firmly in hand and payers that the place wouldn’t be shut down in my head.

Relief swept through me as I saw the sign for the hotel on what appeared to be an apartment building. I climbed the rickety stairs to the third floor, and wondered how one small floor could make up a hotel. Puzzled, I rang the buzzer and an ancient man answered. He said something in Spanish and ushered me inside. I quickly realized that the building looked like an apartment building because it was; I was standing inside this man’s home! He led me to an office, and after a cryptic Spanglish conversation we decided that this senorita would be staying for 23 euros a night. I assumed that he would then show me to a room on another floor of the building, but he motioned for me to follow him, and set off down the street.

For an elderly man walking up a steep wet hill, he had a remarkable spring in his step. I wondered where he was taking me. Visions of travel horror stories flashed through my head. Was this some sort of kidnapping operation? I tried to plan an escape route. He was old and slightly feeble looking. Assuming I could knock him over with my bag and run if necessary, I gripped the strap tighter and adjusted the bag’s position on my body.

We came up to another apartment building, and he showed me to my room, which had a million dollar view of the Alhambra. But I was too emotionally exhausted to even think about the scenery. As the old man left, I collapsed onto the bed and sobbed. I was overwhelmed and hungry, and I thought to myself that all of this would have been so much easier with a friend around. A friend could have distracted me from the fact that I was hungry and made jokes about getting lost in the rain. A companion would have loved my tiny room and its spectacular balcony view. As mascara dripped down my face, I dwelled on missing my boyfriend. I also loathed my new surroundings, deciding that I would leave Granada and take the bus to Seville in the morning. I fell asleep sniffling on a tear soaked pillow, thinking that Granada sucked, and I could not wait to leave.

Despite my miserable first day, I persevered and Granada quickly morphed into my favorite city in Europe. I left my cute hotel and checked into a hostel the following morning. I kept extending my stay, never wanting to leave. My initial bitterness toward Granada completely vanished; I adored the winding streets, eating falafel at 3am, and getting free tapas with my drinks. Days later, some new friends and I sat on our hostel’s rooftop balcony sipping sangria and watching the sunset. If it is possible to begin to describe Granada in a sentence, I believe one of the girls did so at that moment when she commented, “You feel something in Granada. You feel magic.”

Jessica Slizewski earned a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University in 2010. She works as an advertising coordinator and as a political reporter. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, and biking. Her travel writing can be found at

Lara C 1

I’d go home if this were me! Good for you for sticking with it

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