Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year's Eve (' Nochevieja ')

New Year's Eve (' Nochevieja ')
New Year's Eve (Nochevieja) in Spain is a party night like everywhere else in the world, though the structure is a little different to in other countries - remember you have to think in SPANISH TIME!

Rather... than starting early and building to a crescendo at midnight, the Spanish see in the New Year sober (well, nearly sober), either with friends or with family, and then go out to the bars at about 12.30. The partying then continues until about 6am (if you fancy an early night) or much, much later, if you don't!

There is an 'ancient' tradition, started by some shrewd farmers about 100 years ago when they were left with too many grapes after the harvest, of eating twelve grapes at the twelve bongs of midnight. This is a fun ritual, only spoiled by the fact that it is almost impossible to buy seedless grapes in Spain - in the rush to chomp down the dozen grapes; everyone ends up biting into a seed and pulling a silly face.

A word of advice: there are four higher-pitched chimes just before the main ones at midnight (known as 'los cuartos') that announce the start of the real ones - make sure you don't start eating your grapes too soon. It catches people out each year - one year a television presenter made the fatal error! For every grape you get right, you will get a month's good luck.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Three Kings Day (Epiphany) (' El Dia de los Reyes ')

Three Kings Day (Epiphany) (' El Dia de los Reyes ')
January 6 is virtually as important as Christmas itself, especially for kids, as this is the day when they get their presents. The fun starts the evening before, when the three kings lead their procession through the streets, throwing sweets to the children. The next morning, the children wake up to find their presents have been left overnight.
Everyone also eats Roscón, a sweet, donut-shaped bread (though much bigger than a donut) covered in glacier cherries and sugar. A plastic toy and a bean are buried inside the mixture, so don't dive in too quickly. He or she who finds the toy gets good luck for the next year (double the luck if they also ate the grapes on New Year's Eve!), and who finds a bean has to pay for next year´s Roscón.

Beverley Townsend
Spanish Dream Property
01603 415296 / 07889 362950

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

140.000 euros less

A client has purchased a beachside 3 bed detached Villa in Playa Flamenca. Negotiated 140.000 euros off the asking asking price.

Property of the week in EL CARMOLI

3 Bed 2 Bath
Villa / Detached in EL CARMOLI

Ref: SDP1650
Type: Villa / Detached
Area: Costa Calida / Murcia
Town: El Carmoli
Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Pool: Yes
Price: €179,995
Description: 3 BEDROOM / 2 BATHROOM SEMI DETACHED VILLA OUTSTANDING SEA VIEWS This charming south east facing villa commands an amazing position situated at the top of the mountain and just 5 minutes to the beautiful shores of the Mar Menor. • Communal swimming pool • Off road parking with private driveway • Private roof solarium with stunning views plus front and rear terraces • Easy maintained tropical/cactus gardens • Air conditioning fitted plus log fire & electric radiators!/pages/Spanish-Dream-Property/204019259614697

Monday, 10 December 2012

Memories of the 1960's Ibiza

Ibiza old town


My first visit to Ibiza was probably before 1970.  In those days the island was a lot less ‘touristy’ and less well known than Mallorca, which by the end of the sixties was already established as a holiday hotspot.  This was evident the moment we arrived as I remember the old airport terminal was little more than a long white single-storey building with palm trees planted along the front.  Wandering down the car-less lane towards the beach we passed the white mountains of sea salt waiting to be transported and were able to collect handfuls of the rough crystals – no fences keeping children out!  The whole island seemed very laid back and relaxed, a far cry from the 18-30’s party island image for which it became known a couple of decades later.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Up by 50%

 Spanish Dream Property sales so far in 2012 are up by 50% on 2011. Let us find your dream home in the Alicante or Murcia regions

Spanish Dream Property & Association of International Property Professionals

Spanish Dream Property has full membership Of the AIPP Association of International Property Professionals if you are looking to buy property overseas this is a great place to start for information. We are looking forward working with the AIPP

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Top destinations for UK expats

By Jess Bown, Nov 27, 2012

Sydney harbourWith storms and floods hitting much of the country, and the economic climate not much better, it is hardly surprising that many Britons dream of moving abroad to sunnier climes.

Last year alone, just under 150,000 British citizens left the UK with the intention of spending at least a year in another country, Home Office figures show.
Here, we look at why they left, where they went and whether you should follow in their footsteps.

Why did people leave the UK last year?
Research indicates that most of the 150,0000 or so Britons to emigrate last year were of working age.

As you might expect, many were thinking of their careers first and foremost. According to the Office of National Statistics, more than 50,000 people left the UK to take up a definite job elsewhere, while about 30,000 more left in search of employment.

Not all those who moved abroad did so for work, though. Some were moving to be closer to other family members, some were off to study abroad, and others were heading off to spend their retirement overseas.

Where did they go?
Australia remained the number one destination for British citizens moving abroad - a position it has held for the last 20 years.

Second place, meanwhile, belongs to the US, while the beaches of Spain and the wide open spaces of Canada also attracted thousands of Britons last year.

Other top destinations included France, Ireland and New Zealand. For a full list of the top 10, see below.

Should you move abroad?
You might think that the high unemployment rate is one reason so many Brits are choosing to jet off to live in other parts of the world.

But actually, figures show that emigration rates fall when unemployment is high because most of those affected simply do not have the cash to take off in search of work elsewhere.

Perhaps because of this, the number of people leaving the UK has dropped in recent years.

In the first few years of the 21st century it was close to 200,000 a year and peaked at 207,000 in 2006 - just before the credit crunch hit.

Despite that, the Home Office report suggests that a massive 4.7 million Brits now live as expats, many of them very happily. The key if you want to join them is to do your research - and your sums - first.

After all, your favourite holiday destination might be idyllic for two weeks in July, but what is it like in November? And will there be a job for you there?

Other things to think about before taking the plunge include the cost of living in the country you are considering moving to and the distance it will put between you and any loved ones still in the UK.

Top 10 destinations for UK expats1. Australia 1,062,000
2. USA 829,000
3. Spain 808,000
4. Canada 608,000
5. Ireland 289,000
6. France 253,000
7. New Zealand 248,000
8. South Africa 219,000
9. Germany 97,000
10. UAE 65,000
By Jess Bown, Nov 27, 2012

Monday, 26 November 2012

Property of the week Javea

3 Bed 1 Bath
Villa / Detached in Javea

Ref: NCB415
Type: Villa / Detached
Area: Costa Blanca North
Town: Javea
Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Pool: No
Price: €239,000
Description: This 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom detached villa is located in Javea in the sought after and popular area of Pinasol. The property is situated in a great location, only a five minute drive from Javea´s old town, and is close to the main sandy Arenal beach. The property is on a level plot and comprises of a lounge with a beamed ceiling, oil fired central heating, a separate fully fitted kitchen/dining room that overlooks the gardens and terrace area, a family bathroom and three bedrooms. Outside, the property has a large level plot with gardens, space for a pool and terraces to the front and rear. The property is in excellent condition and superb decorative order throughout


Recive regular infomation

we are just sorting our email list out. If you would like to recive our propery of the week just  let us know  and we can put you on our list. We do not pass your name on to anyone else.

Thank you

Dave & Bev

Friday, 23 November 2012

3 Bed 2 Bath Semi Detached in Villamartin

3 Bed 2 Bath
Semi Detached in Villamartin

Ref: HE5651
Type: Semi Detached
Area: Costa Blanca South / Alicante
Town: Villamartin
Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Pool: Yes
Price: €109,995

Description: Reduced from €119,995 to €109,995. This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom semi-detached house is located in Villamartin and is within easy reach of all the local amenities, shops, restaurants, bars, golf courses and beaches. Situated in a quiet road this property comprises of a large front and side terrace, covered entrance porch, large lounge/diner, shower room, kitchen with rear door to the galeria on the ground level. Upstairs there is a family bathroom and three double bedrooms. A second staircase leads to a double aspect solarium


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Any Questions

Hi folks, do you have any questions on the Spanish buying process or property in general ? if so we will do our best to answer them.

Dave & Bev

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Green grass - memories of the 1960's

Spain in the '60's didn't have a terribly good electricity supply, power cuts were frequent.  No-one had irrigation systems on timers, that would have been useless.  Water was often in short supply over the summer anyway.  We visited Barcelona and were taken to the famous football ground.  As a young girl totally disinterested in the game I remember little of the visit except the groundsman's enthusiasm for the pitch.  He was proud of his work, and looking back on it, probably rightly so.  We were told, through an interpreter, with extreme pride that this was 'the greenest grass in Spain'.  And it probably was.  The groundsman however seemed dismayed by the lack of response of the unimpressed British tourists - afterall we were all very used to green grass! 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Property Of the Week


2 Bed 1 Bath
Villa / Detached in Villamartin

Ref: 3099
Type: Villa / Detached
Area: Costa Blanca South / Alicante
Town: Villamartin
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Pool: Yes
Price: €74,000
Description: · 2 BEDROOM TOWNHOUSE

Memories of Spain in the 1960's

As a child I spent many happy times in Spain.  I remember being fascinated by the way of life and culture which seemed so strange to the English back in those days.  My favourite memories are seeing all the donkeys in the straw hats or sombreros hard at work.  Donkey carts were as common a sight on the road as a car, but you saw them often working in the fields pulling ploughs, cart loads of veg or oranges, in fact anything that needed to be moved.  Tractors were all old fashioned, many pre WW2, and blelched black fumes as they trundled down pot-holed roads and tracks.  It never went without comment when we returned to the UK how smooth the roads were!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Residency in Spain new regulations

If you are looking to take up residency in spain this link might help you


3 Bed 2 Bath

Ref: SDP1384
Type: Villa / Detached
Area: Costa Blanca South / Alicante
Town: Los Montesinos
Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Pool: No
Price: €159,000
Description: BRAND NEW 3 BEDROOM / 2 BATHROOM DETACHED VILLAS MODERN STYLE VILLAS ON 200m2 PLOTS 50% reduction of VAT - pay only 4% until end of 2012 3 bedroom 2 bathroom detached villas in beautiful surrounding countryside, having on site an 18 hole golf course and driving range with tennis courts and a bowling green plus Shops, bars and restaurants. • Possible interior design layout changes available • Private swimming pool at additional cost • Solar powered hot water system • Pre installation for air conditioning • 15 minutes drive to the beaches

Relaxing in Moraira

This is from our last trip to Spain on our last vist to see Bev's mum & dad who lived in Moraira for over twenty years just a relaxing time at the Algas Bar

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

From our trip to Malga just people watching

Property of the week

3 Bed 2 Bath
Villa / Detached in SUCINA

Ref: SDP1555
Type: Villa / Detached
Area: Costa Calida / Murcia
Town: Sucina
Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Pool: Yes
Price: €109,995
Description: 3 BEDROOM 2 BATHROOM VILLA ** PRIVATE POOL ** A well presented 3 bedroom semi detached villa located in the lovely Spanish village of Sucina. Early viewing recommended. • Private swimming pool • Roof solarium and terraces • Private driveway • Air conditioning fitted • 15 minutes drive to the beach and airport

find this property at

0r call Beverley on +44 01603 415296

Friday, 12 October 2012

La Zenia Boulevard

What a great place well done Spain Full Marks

Bungalow in Moraira

Bungalow in Moraira
Ref: NCB110
Type: Bungalow
Area: Costa Blanca North
Town: Moraira
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Pool: Yes
Price: €135,000
Description: A charming single level bungalow on a sought after complex with well maintained communal pool and gardens. The property comprises off street parking, glazed front naya/ dining area, lounge, open plan kitchen, two double bedrooms and bathroom. The property has gas radiator central heating and will be sold furnished. Community fees only 400 euros per year.
[Please click an image to enlarge]
single level bungalow
single level bungalow
nice community pool
nice community pool
glazed naya/ dining room
glazed naya/ dining room
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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Genuine way of earning extra

Anyone looking for extra income?
Really need people in Norwich but anywhere else in the UK, Ireland, Holland or Germany is fine too. Plus as from September 2013 we will be operating in Spain too! If you are interested in getting more information just contact us through our web page or
          Dave & Bev

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The girls' weekend away is legendary

Could this be Thailand or eastern exoticism... in Benidorm?

The girls' weekend away is legendary. I don't care who you are – it's good for the soul. The bonding, the chatter and the fun are all unique to our sex. But as our lives get forever more complicated these heady weekends become difficult to arrange. But thank goodness there's always someone in your circle who motivates, organises and, co...

me hell or high water, drags everyone off.
For me it's Sally Mean. I first met her when she was giving us 'windy in the West, snowing in the South' at GMTV and we've been in each other's lives ever since. At 5.50am, together with Jo Sheldon and Gaby Hennah, we found ourselves boarding an easyJet flight from Gatwick to Alicante. On board we joined our fellow travellers, some of whom sat in groups wearing the same tops with their names written on the back. It was something to consider for our next trip.

Sun and gossip: Anthea and friends loved their Benidorm break
We piled through Alicante airport at 9.20am, smug in the fact that our early start meant we wouldn't miss a precious hour of sunshine. No one now goes on holiday without doing their homework: we trawl the internet for information and comments, we even pre-book spa treatments, meals and entertainment at the click of a button, so we knew as we stepped out of the airport we were going to somewhere special.

The Barcelo Asian Gardens, just outside Benidorm, was our destination, with the Sierra de Cortina mountains behind us and the Costa Blanca in front. As the car doors opened, four girls from London stepped out into Thailand. But even our research didn't prepare us for their fastidious attention to Asian detail. We really did feel like we were on a different continent and far more than a few hours from home. The hotel ambience is pure Thai and the beautifully attired staff treat you like visiting royalty. It is nestled in a lush garden separated by seven swimming pools with secluded sunbathing areas luring you towards the cushioned rattan sun loungers.

The labyrinthine paths (you will get lost) are bordered by more than 300 different botanical species that thrive in the mild climate of the area. The 312 rooms are of a high standard and have everything a sophisticated traveller expects, from iPod docks to wi-fi, which incidentally is free. I take a huge dislike to hotels that extract a charge for this.

The Spanish resort makes a surprisingly good choice for a girls' getaway
The spa is a testimony to the traditional Thai philosophy of peace, calm and harmony. With beautiful facilities and excellent therapists, its tranquillity was intoxicating. We all treated ourselves to a Thai massage. My body was pulled, stretched, drained, and popped. I think we all grew an extra inch. Food in the hotel was excellent with the four restaurants oozing taste. The Koh Samui Asian Restaurant was a favourite.
The last time I had such delicious Thai food was in Thailand. Saturday night was looming, with two days of rest and relaxation and pages of Fifty Shades Of Grey behind us, we were ready to party. A 15-minute drive away is Benidorm, a place I know well and it does what it does very well, which is to give thousands of people of all ages a great value-for-money holiday. One of its greatest attractions is The Benidorm Palace – one of the most prestigious cabaret venues in Spain, it has recently won Best Nightclub in Europe 2012.
It opens six nights a week and treats its guests to a fast-moving show. The music, costumes and performers are spectacular. Outside of our Benidorm excitement, which also included shopping in the old town and a meal at a fabulous tapas bar, we spent the rest of our time back in 'Thailand'. I would highly recommend our trip for a short or long holiday destination and I will definitely return to this Spanish/Asian experience.
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Property of the week only Price: €99,950



3 Bed 1 Bath
Townhouse in Villamartin

Ref: HELD-LAP870
Type: Townhouse
Area: Costa Blanca South / Alicante
Town: Villamartin
Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Pool: Yes
Price: €99,950

Description: Reduced from €109,950 to €99,950 on 15/3/2012 - Lounge/diner, separate kitchen, conservatory, cloakroom, 3 bedrooms, family bathroom, solarium, brick built BBQ, awning,satellite TV partly furnished, gated community, terrace and tiled garden. Communal pool and gardens

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Renewed interest in Spanish property from British buyers

Renewed interest in Spanish property from British buyers
There has been a surge in the level of interest in Spanish properties from British buyers, with both enquiries and sales among this demographic increasing.

So says Marc Pritchard, sales and marketing manager at Taylor Wimpey de Espana, who revealed that in August, 53 per cent of all his firm's transactions were completed by Brits, which is the highest proportion it has been in nearly two years.

He explained there are several factors that have combined to make Spanish real estate an attractive option for British investors.

Mr Pritchard noted there is a good supply of high-quality homes in popular locations that are available at reduced prices. In addition, the exchange rate between sterling and the euro and the low rate of value-added tax payable on property transactions have added as extra incentives to enter the Spanish residential sector.

He stated that "Brits are prepared to act in order to take advantage of the current market".

Despite this renewed interest among buyers from the UK, data published earlier this week by the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica showed that property sales declined by 2.5 per cent in July, compared to a year earlier.

Property in Murcia has surged by 78 per cent

What A beach
Demand for property in Murcia has surged by 78 per cent this year, according to one search engine..
The region has long been mooted as the fastest recovering area in Spain, with the upcoming international airport and Paramount theme park boosting its potential for property investors. But interest in the region's real estate has already started to grow on the overseas portal, with enquiries betwee...
n March and May this year 78 per cent higher than the three months from December to February.
The increase in interest follows official reports that property sales across Spain have risen too. Although down on the year on year rate, real estate transactions grew by 21.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the last quarter of 2011, the Spanish College of Property Registrars revealed this week. This boost in sales has been attributed to the country's "intense lowering" of house prices, as holiday homes become even more affordable for international buyers.
Spain's financial woes and historic bank bailout continue to dominate news headlines, but the country's unemployment has also driven rents up, with rates growing by 0.7 per cent in April compared to last year. Now, investors are looking to take advantage of the falling prices and higher rents, and Murcia is one their main targets.

We already have several bookings for next summer

We already have several bookings for next summer. If you would like to reserve dates please contact us as soon as possible
See details of our 3 bedroom house to rent in the southern Costa Blanca, Spain. Overlooking the pool, close to the beach, shops, restaurants and golf. Sleeps up to 8 people. All year round holidays.


By Dave Jones
MURCIA’S new international airport at Corvera is set to open in April, a spokeswoman for concessionary operator Aeropuerto de Murcia SA told Costa Blanca News.
The statement belies information offered just last month by minister for public works Ana Pastor who said it could be up and running this autumn.
Full story in today’s Costa Blanca News.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Home Buying by Foreigners Rises by

Home Buying by Foreigners Rises by 12%
September 18th, 2012
9,502 house purchases were made by foreign residents in Spain during the second quarter of this year, representing an increase of 12% compared to the number of transactions recorded in the same period of 2011, and the highest figure since four years ago, when it reached 11,130 sales.
One clear factor explaining the rise in foreigners’ property purchases in Spain has been the drop in property prices, which in the second quarter fell by 8.3% to 1,606.4 per square metre – a return to levels seen at the end of 2004.
In contrast to the highs recorded in 2006 before the housing bubble burst, and according to data from the Ministry of Development, home purchases made by foreign residents in Spain marked a record low in the first quarter of 2009, when the number of transactions fell to 5,036.
With regard to location, El Pais reported that most home purchases made in the second quarter were in Andalusia (1,676), Valencia (3,114), Catalonia (1,615) and the Canary Islands (1,173), while the lowest number of operations were recorded in Cantabria (15), Ceuta and Melilla (16) and Extremadura (18).
As for the purchaser’s province of residence and the location of the property, Alicante headed the list with 2,645 transactions, followed by Malaga (1,127), Barcelona (847), Tenerife (655), the Balearic Islands (536), Las Palmas (518) and Madrid (522). At the other end stood Avila (2), Ceuta (3) and Palencia (4).
Foreign investment in Spanish property during the first three months of the year rose by 2.5%, compared to a year earlier, to 1,163 million euros. According to the latest data from the Bank of Spain, this amount – the largest disbursement since the second quarter of 2011 – contrasts with the downward trend experienced in the Spanish investing in properties outside of Spain, which reduced by 50%, to 95 million euros.

An interesting article

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal last week highlighted an increasing gap between the supply and demand for investment property in Europe.

Discussing the market for commercial property, Harm Meijer, European property analyst at JP Morgan Chase argues that "prime assets will stabilize or rise in value, depending on the country, but secondary assets will continue to slide."

It strikes me that despite the doom and gloom headlines, this will also hold true for internationally-focused residential property.

Let’s take Spain, as it’s the biggest European market. Prices are now 40% lower on the coast than at their peak according to the latest TINSA index. At first this seems strange as water-front property is most sought after category in our industry. Yet TINSA’s figures include all property in the coastal regions, the overwhelmingly majority of which is not even close to the beach.

Price drops in Spain seem to be accelerating, propelled by the savings banks new taste for reality. However, the sinking tide will not take down all boats. Foreign buyers are not buying in boom numbers but volumes are rising and they are ever-more discerning.

The demand for conveniently-located, well-priced, low-medium density completed resorts with beach views is at a post-boom high. The fact is there is genuine shortage of property that ticks all the boxes of the people who are now buying abroad.

This fact has either escaped the headline writers’ attention or just doesn’t sell newspapers. “Spain hit by huge property shortage” won’t be headline you’ll be reading any time soon in the Daily Mail. That is until international property advertising revenue begins to rise again and that could be some time.

Source: Global edge

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Sunday, 9 September 2012

The results are in

The results are in!  A recent survey conducted by the Overseas Guides Company revealed that the economic turmoil of the last few years has done little to deter those determined to buy their own slice of heaven abroad.

Of the 1,114 respondents, 36.9 per cent confirmed that they have not changed their approach to buying abroad or emigrating despite the general economic crisis and believe that now is as good a time as any to purchase abroad. A further 42.2 per cent admitted to being wary but their concern has not led them to change their plans.

So, which demographic are the most likely to be planning an overseas property purchase? The survey discovered that around 70 per cent of prospective buyers are at least 50 years old – the majority ranging between 50 and 64. Of this age group, more than 70 per cent plan to buy outright without a mortgage and 59 per cent of respondents revealed that they are planning on buying to emigrate.
I must admit those findings surprised me, I guess if you want something bad enough, you press on and achieve your set goals, but how about you? Are you still pressing on? Why not call me and see how achievable your plans are to own a property abroad.

Turmoil for overseas property

A recent survey conducted by the Overseas Guides Company revealed that the economic turmoil of the last few years has done little to deter those determined to buy their own slice of heaven abroad.Of the 1,114 respondents, 36.9 per cent confirmed that they have not changed their approach to buying abroad or emigrating despite the general economic crisis and believe that now is as good a time as any to purchase abroad. A further 42.2 per cent admitted to being wary but their concern has not led them to change their plans.So, which demographic are the most likely to be planning an overseas property purchase? The survey discovered that around 70 per cent of prospective buyers are at least 50 years old – the majority ranging between 50 and 64. Of this age group, more than 70 per cent plan to buy outright without a mortgage and 59 per cent of respondents revealed that they are planning on buying to emigrate.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Give me Moor: Islamic tales, free tapas and terrifying Alhambra staff in glorious Granada

By Sarah Gordon
When King Boabdil was forced from his kingdom of Granada by the Catholic Reconquista in 1492, he is said to have stopped on a mountain path, looked back at the Alhambra palace one final time and shed a tear for what he had lost.

Confronted by a steely-eyed Spaniard, perched like a vulture at the entrance to the Alhambra’s Nasrid Palaces, I feel a similar urge to cry as I am barked at in front of a startled line of tourists, quietly pretending not to witness our exchange.

My crime? I am twenty minutes late for my timed visit to the most popular part of the palace complex. So much for the Spanish mañana culture.
The Alhambra
The Red Fortress: The Alhambra palace is Spain's most iconic remnant of Moorish rule
When Boabdil broke down, his mother is said to have reproached him with the words: ‘Thou dost weep like a woman for what thou couldst not defend as a man.’

My vulture is not so poetic, her talons thrust my tickets back and me and I am told to return to the ticket office, explain why I am late and wait for my entry to be reissued.

The sentiment is more or less the same. ‘Thou dost complain about not being allowed in at 5.50pm, when thou didst buy tickets on Ticketmaster for 5.30pm.’

The Alhambra crowns a hill above Granada, a walled complex which for centuries was a symbol of the Moors’ domination of Spain. The first palace was built in the 11th century and multitude buildings have been added over hundreds of years by Islamic dynasties and, later, Christian conquistadors.

Up to 6,000 people pass through the serene gardens and ornate palaces each day in peak season, soaking up the sunshine, unparalleled views of the city and Islamic heritage, which is why it is important to buy a ticket in advance. And turn up on time.

Court of the Lions
Intricate: Detailed carvings transform the palace's stone surfaces into delicate works of art
When we finally make it into the Nasrid Palaces, they are well worth the contempt of the snappy bird of prey.

Spikey turrets scratch at the sky and every wall that is not graced by coloured tiles has been intricately carved with the words ‘There is no conqueror but God’.
Remnants of the red, blue and yellow paint that once adorned these surfaces is still visible in parts and stuccoed columns, marble water fountains and carved ceilings, so elaborate they look like paintings, recreate the lavish rule of the Moors in the 14th century – at an artistic peak, but on the cusp of political decline.
If there was ever any doubt about Spain’s mixed heritage, Granada is the city that maps out the Iberian Peninsula’s blend of Christianity and Islam.

While Islamic Seville and Cordoba fell to the Catholics in the mid-13th century, Granada – meaning pomegranate in English – brokered an agreement to become an independent Islamic state in a deal that lasted until 1492, when an eight-month siege by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel forced Boabdil to give up his throne and make that long walk into exile.

Remnants of Moorish influence are ever-present in Spain, from quirks of the language (ojalá is a way of saying ‘with any luck’ and comes from the refrain ‘Oh Allah’), unpronounceable place names that have no base in Latin and those keyhole-shaped gateways that mark the entrance to medieval walled towns.

Caleresia Nueva
Eastern exoticism: The jumble of streets is filled with tea shops and stalls selling Moroccan-style wares
While in most areas this influence lurks in architecture and language, in Andalucía, it bubbles to the surface, eventually bursting forth in Granada as a mix of mint tea-selling teterías (tea shops), hubbly bubbly pipes and markets with a distinctly Moroccan flavour.

The stout cathedral may stand in the centre of the city, an ominous threat to anyone trying to remember Granada’s Islamic past, but just behind it a burrow of streets is packed with outdoor stalls selling silver tea sets, handmade rugs, pretty woven shoes and blood-red lamps and lanterns.

Add to this a youthful spirit – Granada is a university town – and a hippie vibe, created by the mix of gypsy influences and international travellers who come here to study, and you have a Moorish-Spanish city with an ambience that is very different to formal neighbour Seville, party-town Malaga and quaint Cordoba.

Escaping for a girls’ weekend, my friend Sanne and I spend hours tramping through the streets, haggling for rainbow-coloured clothing, clanging bracelets and leather belts, stopping only to refresh with mint tea, strawberry-flavoured hubbly bubbly and free food.
While Granada can’t really claim to be the home of flamenco – that honour goes to Seville – it is the capital of tapas.

It is said that barmen in Andalucía started giving out free bread and jamón as tapas (literally meaning lids) to cover customers’ beers and protect them from flies.

Alhambra Palace hotel
Back in time: The Alhambra offers views over the Albaicin, which is little changed since the 14th century, while the Alhambra Palace hotel recreates the lavish surroundings that Moorish rulers would have experienced
The tradition grew and has now been transported around the world as a restaurant concept, but only in Granada does the tradition of serving up free food with your drinks live on.

Along with our Alhambra-branded beer – surely sacrilege to the palace’s abstinent Islamic creators? – we are given meat stews, jamón, patatas bravas (potatoes with a spicy sauce) and montaditos (open sandwiches).

It’s not hard to burn off the indulgent dishes as Granada is a series of peaks and troughs. We spend hours walking around the Albaicín, the old Arab Quarter which clings to the hillside opposite the Alhambra and grew up in a tangle of narrow streets and topsy turvy buildings.

The oldest quarter of Granada, it is still lived in by locals, but also crammed with restaurants, bars and pretty shops run by long-haired hippies. At its pinnacle lies Mirador San Nicolás, a quaint plaza often graced with mournful guitar-strumming travellers and tourists taking photos of the mighty Red Fortress which stands proud with the Sierra Nevada in the background.
In the evening, after more free tapas, we make the hike back to the Alhambra, stopping just before its red walls at a hotel with architectural influences borrowed from its authentic Moorish neighbour.
Plaza with a view: Sarah and her friend Sanne pose for the iconic Alhambra photo taken from the Mirador San Nicolas
Where the imagination fails to fill the empty ornate rooms of the Red Fortress, the century-old Alhambra Palace hotel steps in. Keyhole-shaped doors filled with coloured glass, carved wooden furniture and wrought iron balustrades may not be historically correct in the strictest sense, but they certainly recapture the extravagance of Boabdil’s kingdom. No wonder aristocrats and royalty have chosen to stay here as they have visited over the years.

A terrace jutting out over the city completes the offering, the perfect spot to sip cool beers and watch the early evening shadows extend across the diminutive city below as the snow-capped peaks glint with the last rays of the setting sun.

Francisco Asís de Icaza, a Mexican poet who visited the city at the turn of the 20th century, famously wrote: ‘Dale limosna, mujer, que no hay en la vida nada como la pena de ser ciego en Granada.

It translates as: ‘Give him alms, woman, for there is nothing sadder in life than being blind in Granada.’

The quote now lives on as a tile placed in a wall near the city’s cathedral.
But it is only when perched above Granada, taking in its sweeping panorama that you fully understand the meaning behind Asís de Icaza's words.

Travel Facts

Flights to Granada via Madrid (there are no direct flights) cost from £80 each way with Iberia ( 0870 609 0500). ( offers accommodation at the four-star Alhambra Palace in Granada from £80 per night.

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