* This is a continuation post to Part 1 of this series here. The following are the remaining 2 of the 5 cities that have pleasantly surprised us along our journey thus far*
This little known town in the Haute-Savoie region was such a charming find. Famous for its beautiful Lake Annecy and surrounded by the majestic French Alps, we had the privilege of visiting this beautiful town twice during Spring. The first time we came, it was pouring buckets so we decided we had to come back again. The second time we came, we conquered the sky! We went for our first ever paragliding session over the mountains of Annecy. The experience and visuals were unforgettable, easily one of the top experiences of our journey thus far.
Aside from the awesome experience, the Old Town of Annecy itself is very quaint and charming. The town was built over a series of canals, therefore the scene looks a bit like a small rustic version of Amsterdam. Combined that with colourful flowers blooming in Spring, and the turquoise water surrounding the township, old forts and castles, you got yourself a postcard scene.
There were actually plenty to see and do in Annecy, but we didn’t manage to do most of them due the bad weather and the day long paragliding session. Abundant of outdoor activities i.e. biking, hiking, boating on the lake, and if you are up for it, skydiving is pretty popular here too. Annecy is also one of the best places to paraglide in France, due to the geographic location of the town and the picturesque lake. As Annecy is surrounded by the nearby Alps, it is the perfect place for beginners or tandem gliding. I was lucky I had a good pilot, who managed to fly us all the way up to see majestic Mont Blanc from a distance. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience for me.
Granada was a welcome change from Seville. Not that we didn’t like Seville, it was just too hot in Summer with some days going up to 40 C. Since we had time to kill, we decided to go somewhere nearby and hopefully a little bit cooler (temperature wise). We obviously made the right decision because Granada turned out to be one of the best surprise in Spain. For one, the weather was less harsh than Seville, with the evening going down to a nice cool 18 C.
Granada is one of the most visited city in the Andalucia region most famously known for the Alhambra that is perched up on the city’s highest hill. The Alhambra was the royal palace of the last Islamic empire that occupied the Andalucian region centuries ago. It is said to be the most visited monument in Spain and definitely one of the most magnificent sites I’ve ever visited.
Below the hill sits the Unesco heritage protected site of Albayzin, which is a district filled with its signature white houses located amongst the narrow and steep cobblestone streets. (Side note — Becareful of the extra slippery cobblestones here!) I particularly enjoyed my sunset stroll up to Mirador San Nicolas at the top of Albayzin, where everyone just hang around the plaza overlooking the beautiful Alhambra while the spanish guitars were strummed away in the background.
Due to the interesting history of the city, there is an electric mix of Arabic and Spanish culture in Granada. There is an abundance of delicious Arabic and North African cuisines to be sampled here, and plenty of Arabic influences i.e. shisha, Arab tea houses and the fabulous Arab Bazaar. Not quite the typical Spanish town, and definitely unique in its own way. Granada makes a great overnight trip from Seville if you happen to be in the area.