Granada, I’m in Love.

2 May 2014, Friday

The cold Spring wind brushing against my cheeks somehow reminded me of Madinah, Saudi Arabia.  Calming and comforting as I sat at the terrace of Fenicia at Solar Montes Claros.  It’s my last night here in Granada, a place I wish I could call a holiday home.  Two nights before I stayed in Saba Room which Antonio, my host, welcomed me and said “Are you ready to return to your room?” Stayed at that room 4 years ago. How can I not feel at home? Its furnishings still look familiar.  Familiarity is usually comforting for me.

solarmontesclaros

Earlier today, my prayers all these years were granted to perform Friday prayers at Mezquita Mayor de Granada. To be given the opportunity to listen to the unique azan (call to prayer) and khutbah in Spanish and Arabic was simply breathtaking.  Nihla and I prayed at the first saf. After prayers, as I stood up, I thought I saw Zaruq, my Spanish friend whom I’ve met few years ago, at the men’s section.  I looked for him outside but didn’t see him.  Such a pity.  So I just texted him.

mezquita-granadaAt the mosque’s garden, a man told us we could join the feast, usually held after the Friday prayers.  This was a great opportunity to mingle with local Muslims and tourists!  We decided to and was welcomed by Hanna, who was excited to know that we are Singaporeans.  We sat with Maryam, a Pakistani studying in University of Granada. I wish I was young enough to join the uni.  We were treated to Lamb Cous Cous, poached pears with yoghurt and mint lemon tea. Yummy! Aggghhh…Salivating just at the thought of it.  The view from the Mezquita is amazing with lesser crowd than at Mirador St Nicolas.

mezquita1We were so blessed to have met a beautiful Spanish Muslim bride.

We left the function room and saw Hanna and her children outside. We decided to chat with Hanna before we took our leave. Hanna is a talented lady.  She does her own prints on bags, apparels and scarves.  I can’t wait for her to open her Etsy store!

I told her I know someone from here but didn’t manage to see him.  When I mentioned Zaruq, she said “That’s my half brother!” What a small world! At about the same time, Zaruq replied to my WhatsApp.  We said our goodbye to Hanna and promise to keep in touch via Facebook (till now!).  And perhaps, we will meet in Singapore/Malaysia. Check out Zaruq’s Al Andalus Experience website, Facebook and Instagram. A great option if you wish to travel in a big group.  Learn the real history from the experts!

friendsGranada’s Muslim community is amazing, full of warmth and truly hospitable. Teteria Restaurant Albaicin is located just steps away from our home. We wanted to get a litre of mineral water which they didn’t have. So the thirsty us had to walk down the slope to get our aqua stock.  When we walked back, the staff at the Teteria, asked if we’ve bought our Aqua. So everytime we pass by the restaurant, we will just wave.  While walking in Plaza Nueva after Fridhalal-pastryay prayers, we met one of the staff at the traffic light and he waved at us like old friends.  Even the waitress at Teteria Restaurant Generalife in Plaza Nueva, would sweetly say Hi to us. A pity we didn’t take a photo together.

I even got a discount for my brownies from a halal pastry shop, Papas Elvira. When I asked if I could take a photo, she said “Please do. You are always welcome. This is yours too.”  Truly touched by how they value and honour fellow Muslims.

Entering Munira’s leather boutique, we were welcomed by her staff, I believed was Fauziah.  She remembered us praying beside her during Friday prayers.The perks of going during non Singapore school holidays, you tend to be the only Singaporeans in town and people recognise you.  Anyway, that boutique is a must go. Wish Granada was my last destination so I can get my hands on one of the beautiful handcrafted leather bags!  I bought one namecard holder (which I carelessly lost it here in Singapore…sob sob)

I keep falling in love with Granada and the locals.  I promised myself I will visit again. You must have sensed my love for Granada, judging from my few entries on this city.

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