Chapter Eight: An Eventful Day In Granada

Jeronimo b

Chapter Eight:  An Eventful Day In Granada

Day Eight – Ah Capilla (Part Dos), I Shutter to Think What He’d Do To Me, Church of Gold, Jerónimo, Mamma Mia Here I Go Again, Right Down My Alley, I’ve seen The Light(s), I Want Moor, Overrated, And The Horse You Rode In On, Hail Helados, No Flamenco For Us, Not In The Swim Of Things, Our Last Granada Happy Hour, Mary Don’t Steal That Child and Our Best Dinner In Spain

A little after 9 a.m., the MaiTai Four were back on the streets of Granada and said hello to a little friend who greeted us each morning as we walked down the hill.

P1010741Once again we were heading toward Plaza de Bib-Rambla looking for a place to eat. Although we found an intricately detailed lamppost with “Sevilla 1892” inscribed on it (400 years after Columbus perhaps?), it was difficult to find an open restaurant on this Sunday morning…but we eventually did.

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After our breakfast (well, I had a hamburger), we wandered by the Catedral de Granada…

P1010946…over to the Capilla Real de Granada (Royal Chapel), where we would see Isabella of Castile’s and Ferdinand of Aragón’s final resting place.

Walking around, I snapped one picture of the famous painting, Rendición de Granada (The Surrender of Granada)…

P1010943…and then saw a sign that said photography was forbidden. Although that doesn’t always stop me, knowing Queen Isabella’s penchant for torture (and wondering if the men who were chastising and chasing people with cameras might be long lost relatives), I put mine away. Instead I bought some post cards (scanned and seen in this installment). No sense getting boiled in oil or having a limb severed over a stupid photograph.

Capella 4There is a gorgeous 16th century altarpiece, but everyone comes to see the dynamic dastardly duo. Before they conquered Granada in 1492 (busy year), Isabella had planned to be buried in Toledo (Spain, not Ohio).  When she died in 1504, she was buried in the Convento de San Francisco (on the Alhambra hill, not California). The Royal Chapel was finished in 1521, and she was brought here along with Ferdinand who died in 1516.

Capella 2The Burial Monument was made out of Italian Carrara marble.  The monument depicts Isabella and Ferdinand along with another couple; their daughter Juana La Loca (The Mad) and her husband Felipe El Hermoso (Philip The Handsome).  I asked Tracy if she would consider calling me “Tom The Handsome,” but her laughing nearly got us kicked out.

Capella 1At the age of 27, Felipe became the King Of Castile, but the reign didn’t last long. The next year he died of typhoid fever, but Juana and others believed he was poisoned.

capilla 6After his death, it is said she would open the coffin at times to give him a smooch (the ultimate Kiss Of Death).

Capella 5Before leaving, we saw the Cripta con los féretros reales, where the actual bodies of those four and Prince Felipe of Asturias, Juana de Loca’s nephew who died when only a child, lie in state in bronze coffins.

P1010947It was getting near noon so we passed Colegiata de los Santos Justo y Pastor…

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…and rushed over to see if mass was getting out at La Basílica de San Juan Dos Dios, as we only had a small window of time to see this incredibly ornate church.

DiosI believe the word “Wow” came out of all of our mouths when we entered. If this church had not been built in the 1700s, I would have sworn they had raided Sutter’s Mill to furnish the interior (“There’s gold in them thar church”). At any moment I expected the organ to play the theme From Goldfinger.

P1010958We learned that San Juan de Dios (Saint John Of God) originally came from Portugal and at some point began dedicating his life to caring for the ill, starting the Order of Hospitallers.

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This organization now has a base in 40 countries, and if the pope ever needs a little medical attention or some dental work, the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God spring into action. Obviously a gold filling for the pontiff would be a no-brainer after seeing this place.  This church takes opulence to another level, including the stunning altar.

Dios 2Gazing at the bottom of the altar, I figured this guy with the crazed expression on his face must be the original church accountant.  I believe he is exclaiming, “My God, how much money did this place cost?”

P1000523I told our group with all this gold, they must have gone Baroque building it. Mary prayed for forgiveness.  The remains of San Juan de Dios are located in the church…Golden Slumbers indeed.

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Our quick visit was free. I thought about coming back for the €4 audio tour, but we ran out of time later in the day.

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It was a short walk to an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise. The Monasterio de San Jerónimo was the first monastery to be constructed following the Christian conquest of the city. It was going to be built in Santa Fe (Spain, not New Mexico), but the town was infested with insects, so the builders bugged off and decided to build it in Granada.

Jeronimo 6We paid the €4 admission and entered the peaceful cloister (come to think of it, they’re all peaceful aren’t they?) inhabited by an abundance of orange trees.

P1000555There are 500 monks buried in the cloister.

P1000537The sacristy is said to be one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque.

Jeronimo bThe altarpiece dates from the 1500s. On each sude of the altarpiece are kneeling statues of El Gran Capitán (Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, a famous Spanish general who fought in the Conquest Of Granada) and his wife Luisa.

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The Virgin Mary is in the center on the second level from the top next to some poor guy in a pot…

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who looks like he is going to become someone’s dinner.

Jeronimo 1Once again…

Jeronimo 4…Kim captured the beauty of the ceilings.

Jeronimo 5We hung around this beautiful building for about 20 minutes…

Jeronimo 3                                         Jeronimo

…saw my main man, St. Michael the Archangel…

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…and The Virgin of Solitude from the 17th century and The Christ Recumbent from the 16th century.

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We nearly had the place to ourselves.

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Our last stop was in (I believe) the Chapel Of The Virgen de las Angustias.

Jeronimo 7It was time for lunch.

MammaWe walked for a bit, and ABBAcadabra we found ourselves inside the lovely O’Mamma Mia. An S.O.S. was sent to our waiter, and I hoped this lovely Italian restaurant would not become our Waterloo. It wasn’t.

Mamma 1   With a great Motown soundtrack in the background…

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…I enjoyed a sumptuous saffron risotto (I’m just wild about saffron)…

IMG_2300…while Tracy’s and Mary’s salads were both delicious (and giant). Kim ate his spaghetti with pesto before anyone could get a photo of it (how does he stay so skinny?).

P1010984Well, I could go On And On And On about O’ Mama Mia. If I was their marketing manager, I’d have a sign out front stating, “Take A Chance On Me.” Our waiter was very friendly and helpful (the complimentary Limoncello after the meal didn’t hurt his cause), but it was time to go up, up, up through a very “colorful” neighborhood.

AlbayTracy had to snatch my wallet (the only pick pocketing of the entire trip I might add) as we started walking through the Albayzín, Granada’s old Muslim quarter, because all I wanted to do was spend money.   We walked into an alley and…

IMG_2307…this is where I literally saw the light…well, make that “lights.”

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Beautiful Moorish lights lit many of the shops along the alley, and I wanted to buy them all. “I want Moor, Moor, Moor,” I told Tracy. Tracy replied, “I think less is Moor.”  And you thought there could be any Moor humor in this trip report.

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Although we did not end up purchasing any lights, I believe I have convinced her (the power of suggestion works when plying her with GinTonics) that in the future these lights could find a spot somewhere in our house, which means I can have my lights and still enjoy the corgis without fear of divorce.

P1010987I stopped short of rocking the Kasbah.

Albay 2The plates and bowls were pretty colorful, too.

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We continued on as there were lots of scarves and trinkets “on sale.”

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Thankfully, it was Mary who eventually bought something.

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Onward and upward we climbed…

P1010992 …toward what we were told was the most fabulous view of the Alhambra in all Granada.

P1010996Soon we were at Mirador de San Nicolás, which seemed a little rundown with booths selling trinkets.

P1010995                                         St Nick TT

Since we had been spoiled by our great apartment rooftop view and even though the view is wonderful from here, it didn’t do anything extra for us.  However, the walk did let us burn some of those delicious calories from lunch.

St. Nick ViewThat said, if you don’t have lodging with an Alhambra view, Mirador de San Nicolás is definitely the place to come, not only for the view, but for the tasty treats that came next.

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Speaking of calories, after nearly running into a man on a horse navigating some stairs (obviously trying to stirrup some trouble), we came upon a shop that made the whole trek up here worthwhile, although our calorie intake would be quickly replenished.

IMG_2316Helados San Nicolás was dead ahead, and we all screamed for ice cream. We met the personable owner who makes his own ice cream in the basement…and what helado it is!

P1010998                                        St. Nick Helados

Spain is chock full of great deals, and this place is near the top (sort of like its location). A small cone is €1.50. Walking out of the store, Mary was enjoying her vanilla cone, Kim loved the Oreo, Tracy slurped the date flowers (she never misses a date with floral opportunities), while I thought the nougat to be tremendous. They were so good, we returned five minutes later.

P1010999This time I purchased the Lavender cone, while Mary ordered pistachio. Simply fantástico! Plus, we got a free postcard.

Ice Cream 1We made our way back to the apartment through a maze of tiny alleys…

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…and thought for a moment about enjoying the swimming pool next door that guests can utilize. We decided to pass, especially since I had “ice cream cone stomach.”

P1020006Flamenco had been one of our choices for the evening, but as the skies became bluer and bluer, we all decided to get reservations at the restaurant Kim and Mary had discovered on their first night’s sojourn.

Rooftop 1

First, of course, we had to savor our evening vino on the rooftop. We chatted with a Lt. Colonel who was also staying at Apartamentos Turísticos Alhambra.  Had Granada been invaded on this weekend, with all the military staying here, we would have been in good shape. He took our photo and then went AWOL from this group.

RooftopAs an aside, the Apartamentos Turísticos Alhambra stocks the fridge with the “Billy Joel Wine Collection,” which is, of course, a Bottle of Red (€10) and a Bottle of White (€8), which was perfect since we had been in a scene at an Italian restaurant earlier in the day.

A German couple with a young baby joined us on the roof, and we were momentarily scared that Mary (missing her grandson) might abscond with the child (she was holding the kid pretty tightly), but luckily it was time to head off to dinner so she released the child, and an international incident was narrowly averted.

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Mary and Kim had made 8:30 reservations at Carmen de Aben Humeya, 12 Cuesta de las Tomasas in the Albayzin.  There were not enough “wows” to go around for this restaurant.

P1020016Seated at a covered outdoor patio, the views out to the Alhambra were spectacular.

Rest 1You know what they say, “Never eat at a place with a view.”  Well, “they” would be wrong.

P1020018A delightful amuse-bouche of melon gazpacho in a spoon with fried shallots started the evening out on the right foot, especially since I got to eat Kim’s.

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The jamon and queso tray was très bien. This platter of traditional Iberico ham (sorry Babe, I hope it wasn’t your cousin) and selection of cheeses was outstanding.

IMG_2324As the evening progressed, the views of the Alhambra…

Rest 4…became exceedingly more beautiful.

Rest 6This would be the perfect restaurant for a romantic date, but Kim and I felt we should take our wives (we read in some magazine after returning that this was voted one of the “most romantic restaurants in the world).”

P1020024For the main course, I plowed through a delectable Ox Entrecote with truffled parmentier and black trumpet mushroom sauce.

P1020023Tracy clucked endlessly about her Millefeulle of chicken and pineapple in Porto wine with pine nut sauce and a garnish of vegetable, including some sweet looking crispy carrots.

Rest 3Our traveling partner who sometimes sprouts gills (yes, that’s Mary) enjoyed a Trunk of Hake (which sounded more like an Alhambra artifact) with coriander bins, celery puree, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce mayonnaise.

Finally, Kim had the Sirloin of Iberian Pork with green pepper sauce and caramelized foie (with no gras, I guess) with dry corn and lacquered leek.

In Roger Ebert tradition…our review was, “Four thumbs up!”

Rest 5To top off the evening (because I had not reached my daily allotment of 10,000 calories), I ordered an incredible cheesecake topped with strawberry jam on a bed of Graham Cracker crumbs with brownie bits. I quickly looked for the local Granada phone number of Jenny Craig.

IMG_2330By now the Alhambra was lit up, and after all the wine I drank I was fairly lit myself.  Also lit were the beautiful lanterns at the restaurant. Our total dinner bill at Carmen de Aben Humeya (including vino) was €144.

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That’s half of what a similar meal experience would be in L.A.  “Spain, I love you!!”

Rest 10Just a tad bit stuffed, we rolled ourselves back down the hill and packed our gear.  Tomorrow we’d be up early, rent a car (danger Will Robinson), drive to Ronda, check out the gorge (although I had already gorged enough today) and end up in Zahara de la Sierra for a relaxing interlude before hitting busy Sevilla, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid.

Of course, when it comes to cars and this foursome nothing ever goes quite according to plan. Not surprisingly, we would continue our tradition of driving ineptitude as we hit the highway (and nearly a tree) tomorrow.

Next: Day Nine – I Thought All New Cars Have GPS, Aztec Basketball And Driving Do Not Mix, Help Me (Find) Ronda, Parking Faux Pas, Never Eat At A Place Just Because You Have To Pee, Gorgeous Gorge, Horsing Around, That’s A Bunch Of Bull, Mixed Church Reviews, Watch Out For That Tree, Mariano Rivera Couldn’t Do It Better, Who’s Afraid Of The Lonely Goatherd, GinTonics By The Lake and Another Spectacular Dinner

 

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