What they didn’t tell me…surprises living in Granada Spain

Son's drawing of the view of the Alhambra from our rooftop deck.
Son’s drawing of the view of the Alhambra from our rooftop deck.

For those of you that know me, you know I’m a planner and don’t like surprises.  During the last year of organizing and prepping for our move, I can’t even guess as to the number of hours I’ve spent online.  As dozens of bloggers and online expat forum users can attest, I haven’t been shy about pelting the overly kind and responsive with question after question.

That, and having visited and lived in different parts of Spain a couple of times prior, I didn’t think there would be many surprises.  With that said, below is a list of new realizations after living here for the last 3 weeks.

Yes, summers are hot but…

The temperature has hit 90+ degrees (F) each day this week but we have yet to run the air conditioning.  What they didn’t tell me is that by nightfall, the temps dip down about 20-30 degrees where you can leave your windows open and re-cool the house down with the night breezes.  It also helps that there is very low humidity here.

Granada Summer Forecast
Groundhog Day in Granada

But I expected seedy!

A friend that studied in Granada 20 years ago joked that I’d probably be pick-pocketed on a weekly basis when he learned we’d be living in the Albaicín.  Fortunately I haven’t seen or heard of anything remotely dangerous like this occurring since our time here.  Yes, there are some potheads that frequent some of the plaza miradors around the neighborhood, but they largely seem like a harmless, uninterested lot.

When I had jetlag, I could be found wandering the narrow streets of our neighborhood at all hours of the night and not once did I feel intimidated.  The city has done a good job of keeping everything well lit.  Young women can often be seen walking alone.  The one time my wife had come home late by herself after having tapas with some friends from her language school, she said she felt safer at that hour (after midnight) than during siesta time.  This is mainly because so many more people can be found out and about at midnight than at 3pm in late July.

Where are the Spanish Queens?

Olives that is.  Back home I would buy these huge, magnificent glass jars of Spanish Queen olives stuffed with pimento.  I also acknowledged that the best ones always had ‘Product of Spain’ printed on the side.Jar of Spanish Queen Olives

So why is it I can’t find any here in Granada?  I’ve looked high and low for this (apparently) rare find.  Most of the larger grocers have a whole aisle dedicated to olives, but for the life of me, I can’t find extra large (Queen sized) olives, pitted, and stuffed.  Canned olives don’t count because the stuffed red pimento turns into a gross liquidy goo.

(Many) Spanish websites are terrible

Spanish websites are bad and unreliable – like early 2000’s bad.

Want to know the location of the local public pool?  Naw, how about a wordy description about how it’s located next to the University’s Civil engineering building (no address given).  I’ve yet to find a helpful site with a Google map embedded.

Need to book an intercity bus?  Sounds good until it times out before you can enter all the passenger information (including names, passport numbers, seat selection, etc).  It took my wife 4 attempts before she could successfully make a purchase.

GCF Website - Home Tickets for Sale

Want to buy tickets to the local professional futbol team’s upcoming game?  Their website seems like a logical place to start although as of this posting, when clicking on ‘Tickets for home games’, it brings me to a completely empty page.


Spanish women actually use Spanish fans.

Now, I haven’t seen anyone under the age of say, 50 using one but they can be seen pretty regularly around town.



19 thoughts on “What they didn’t tell me…surprises living in Granada Spain”

  1. Can’t find Spanish Queen olives? I guess it’s time to try 100 different varieties to see which is your new favorite! 😉

    When I was researching Granada as a potential destination, the heat was initially a turn off, but I hear it’s a dry heat. And it gets cool at night, so it isn’t southeastern-USA unpleasant during the summer months (except for a few hours during the mid-day). Sounds like you are finding that true so far?

    1. I hope I don’t come off as complaining. There are certainly a ton of different olives to choose from (the unpitted manzanilla are my favorite at the moment). I’ve just found it really strange that I’m having trouble finding the Queens that seemed so prevalent in the U.S.

      The heat (or lack thereof) has really been a nice surprise. Sitting in the shade in this 90 degree, albeit dry heat really isn’t bad at all – especially if parked under a tree or at a cafe. I’m most sensitive to the heat when sleeping and as mentioned, it cools off considerably every night.

      Who knows, maybe August will get unbearable. We won’t know since we heeded every local’s advice to get out of town. We’re spending the next several weeks in the UK. Currently high of 62 degrees this week in Edinburgh, Scotland.

      1. Nah, just ribbing you about the olives. I bet they export all the plain olives to the US and keep all the good ones for local consumption. 🙂

        That 62 degree weather sounds awesome. We’re actually enjoying the 60’s here in NC even though it’s usually 90-something in August. Strange stuff.

  2. Viva la difference! My reaction: Ladies over 50 are smart women to use the pretty fans! And I am looking forward to tasting all the olives, and olive oils there, plus I’m so happy to note the super heat is dry. Bet you are finding it quite different in Scotland: cool, and moist! 🙂 All that variety is what makes it the spice of living and visiting over there, no?

    1. And these are just a few examples off the top of my head. Another candidate for worst website is Mercadona.es for online grocery shopping. Really poor search capabilities and no pictures of any product. A website usability expert could make a killing here.

      1. Haha this. So much this. As much as I love Spain – as you both know – their technology leaves oh so very much to be desired.

        The only sites I distinctly remember that seem to operate with any sort of modern efficiency are the online food delivery ones (justeat, etc). And that’s being nice.

        Such is life, though, and it’s definitely nothing new there. Thankfully, it seems to be getting (a bit) better though.

  3. Hey Jed!
    All your exciting prep, departure and arrival happened just as I was too busy with my own chaos to follow along! I went back and am caught up now. Congratulations!
    Glad everything is going so well so far. I only spent a day in Granada when we were in Spain and I regretted how brief my visit was. The Alhambra is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been and you see it every day! Wow!
    I can’t wait to read about all your adventures now that you’re there!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and the well wishes, Nick. It’s been a long haul, but we’re now reaping the benefits of our work/planning. I hope this note finds you and the family well. What are the odds of you going on your own adventure abroad? Cheers!

  4. Hey Jed, It’s been a while since I stopped by your blog. So glad to here you made it to Spain alright. Sounds like your adventure is working out well so far. Looking forward to catching up on the reading here.

    I love those fans and even though I’m not over 50 I would use one!

    1. Yeah, there are days I wish I had picked up one of those fans. They come in handy on the bus, etc. Thanks for stopping by. So far, so good around here. School starts mid-Sept, so that is kind of the next milestone in this journey.

      1. Excuse me! I use one of those fans! And yes.. I just turned 50. I brought it with me from Malta. It is a godsend! My sis gave me one of those little fans with batteries, but l can’t bring myself to use it in public, even though l would love to 🙂 .. Yeah..the websites..

  5. I’m a self-employed web designer / developer that runs my business online. My husband is a stay at home dad 🙂 we have been seriously considering moving our family of 3 to Spain! Your posts have been a HUGE help in wrapping my brain around the process and seeing that in fact people DO this! I wanted to thank you.

    Also – maybe i can help them with their crappy websites!

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