Day Seven – No Justice, Alhambra By Day, Taking A Bath, Nice Knockers, Going To A Garden(s) Party, A Tonic (and Gin) For What Ails Me, Pillars Of Success, Are You Sure I Can’t Take Photos, Vino With A View, Music I Can Hear Music, I Love A Parade, I Hate A Parade, A Coronary Waiting To Happen, And Justice For All, In The Nick Of Time, Alhambra By Night, I Really Hate A Parade, Are We In Sevilla Yet and Getting In The Swing Of Things
Let’s cut to the chase…it’s a busy day ahead.
The Piazza Nueva was nearly devoid of people at about 8 a.m. when we walked through it, unlike the inside of the nearby pastry shop that was full of patrons who looked like they had just finished their night of revelry (ah, to be young again…well, maybe not; some of them looked a little green).
After eating some blah pastries, we caught a taxi at the stand across from the Alhambra Library, and I told the driver to take us to the Justice Gate, which I was told would be a good starting point for our audio tour since we already had our tickets.
Instead the taxi dropped us at the main entrance, which turned out to be a good thing. At 8:45, there was a long (really long) line of people waiting to pick up their tickets (to save this seriously unnecessary waste of time, go to the Alhambra Library…like we did…or one of those Caixa machines in advance to pick up your tickets).
Being the savvy travelers that we are, with tickets already in hand, we walked right in. Audio guides were located just a few yards away from the entrance. We were on our way. All of us had immensely looked forward to our Alhambra visit, and as much as this UNESCO World Heritage site had been hyped, it actually exceeded our expectations.
The Alhambra (meaning “The Red”) is situated on top of the hill of Sabrika. At one point in time, nearly 40,000 people lived in this royal city of the Nasrid kingdom, which also happened to be the last Spanish Muslim kingdom. There would be a lot of walking to cover all this ground.
On the first part of the journey (stolen from A Horse With No Name) we walked down what I think is part of the old Royal Road, which at one point served as a main street to the Monastery of San Francisco. Royal Road or not, the trees and flowers were beautiful here, although they would pale in comparison to what we would witness later in the day.
Like so many Arab palaces and buildings, it was converted into a Christian complex, and about 200 years later it was transformed into a Franciscan convent.
Today, it’s the Parador Nacional hotel, where you can spend the night (and a lot of money).
The roses in the garden were blooming, and the entire area became a peaceful oasis.
Our next stop was the Bath Of The Mosque And The House, which was awash with history.
Looking at some door hardware, I commented, “Nice knockers.”
Tracy responded, “Thanks.” Obviously, she has been watching Young Frankenstein too often.
It wasn’t long before we hit the Wine Gate. Unfortunately no vino was flowing at the Puerto del Vino, which is one of the oldest parts of the Alhambra. The Wine Gate has aged well, unlike the guy holding the audioguide.
It was time to go into the Alcazaba, which is the oldest part of the Alhambra. Be sure to hold on to your tickets, because at various places (like the Alcazaba) they want you to show it.
Because of his fondness for Jimi Hendrix, Kim walked all along the Watch Tower in a purple haze.
The bell on the tower used to be rung so farmers would know when to water the fields at night (I guess we could use this in California now to let us know when we can take a shower).
When you walk through the front, you’d never expect the building to actually be a circular one.
We took so many photos at Palacios Nazaries…I don’t know where half of them were taken, and these are certainly not in order. In we went.
There were some very colorful…
…and intricately detailed ceilings…
We also hit the Court Of The Lions.
…we would have said a little prayer for Cecil.
I was becoming more and more enamored of Moorish architecture and my plans for our new Spanish-influenced house, but then I remembered the Corgis.
There was a hallway with sweeping views out to Granada.
The Linadaraja Courtyard has the peacefulness of a cloister.
Strolling through this floral wonderland…
…because there was one walk left for us.
These gardens are situated on the Cerro de Sol (Hill Of The Sun). GENERALIFE seems to have many “general” meanings ranging from Gardens Of Paradise, the Governor’s Garden, the Architect’s Garden, the Vegetable Garden of the Gypsy Festivity Organizer and many more.
We traipsed through the hedge gardens…
The Sultan’s Palace lay ahead…
From every vantage point, I started to believe Gardens Of Paradise was the best meaning.
The gardens were gorgeous…
There were tremendous views…
…from this part of the garden.
We walked down the final path to the exit, caught a cab and within a few minutes were back in Granada. It was nearly 1:30. We had spent 4 ½ hours at the Alhambra, a new Maitaitom record for a length of stay at one site.
We scurried to our new favorite restaurant, La Bicicleta, and sat on the patio for lunch. Tracy had gazpacho and a chicken empanada while Mary downed a Mango salad.
It would not be my last.
Satiated and still relatively sober, we headed to the nearby Catedral de Granada. I had read that this cathedral was “built by Queen Isabella,” but I’m guessing she had workman do the job for her. Not surprisingly, there was a mosque here previously.
It was €4 to enter and Kim took a really nice photo of the dome before he read that there were “no photos allowed.” I feigned illiteracy and continued to take pictures since a lot of other people were doing the same.
We wandered around the cathedral for about 20 minutes…
…with Kim keeping a safe distance from the scofflaw with a camera.
We exited and walked by the Capilla Real, where we would visit Isabella and Ferdinand first thing tomorrow morning.
We needed a siesta today, because we had 10 p.m. reservations for the Palacios Nazaries.
We ventured left at the river this time, but all the restaurants along the water in the “old” section seemed way too touristy, although this statue caught my eye with the Alhambra as the backdrop. I would find out later that the statue was of Mario Maya, one of Spain’s most innovative and influential flamenco dancers.
A short time later, I thought we were in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. A band was approaching, and it sounded like something out of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Kim and I raced out to see a parade heading through town with dozens of musicians and a big float with the Virgin Mary. It was a great moment, and all the patrons of the restaurant got a kick seeing this huge procession pass by. I turned to Kim and said, ”I love a parade.”
We caught the taxi and drove about three blocks until a policeman stopped us. After a short conversation, our taxi driver said, “You have to get out and walk to the Alhambra. The procession has all the streets blocked.”
“I hate a parade,” I told Kim. And to make matters worse, the taxi driver actually charged us €5 for our one minute trip.
With now only about a half hour before our 10 p.m. tickets, we hurriedly started making our way up (and I mean up) to the Alhambra, although, not being locals, we didn’t have a clue about the correct route. We passed a hotel we had seen coming back earlier in the day and pressed on.
I thought about calling my heart surgeon, but suddenly, we made a turn and we were at the Justice Gate. “So this is where it is,” I said. We walked quickly, saw the Alcazaba lit up, and got in line about 9:57.
…wandering a slightly different route than we had in the morning.
…and by now I realized, there ain’t no way to hide your lion eyes.
…but if I were to return, I might check out the nighttime tour of the GENERALIFE gardens instead.
We caught a taxi for the ride back down, but in a couple of blocks, there was another damned policeman. It seemed the Virgin was taking her sweet time to make it to church (I wonder if she got there in time for midnight mass), so we had to take the detour of all detours. “I really hate a parade,” I told Kim.
Then we drove. And we drove. And we drove some more. Finally I asked our driver, “Are we in Sevilla yet?” He chuckled and about 15 minutes later he dropped us in Granada near Columbus and Isabella.
Up our narrow walking street, we walked to the apartments…
Tomorrow would turn out to be a complete “Wow” day for us. Besides visiting the late King and Queen, we’d check out an incredibly beautiful church and a surprisingly wonderful monastery, be enthralled by light fixtures in the Albayzín, eat some of the best ice cream in history and dine at a romantic restaurant with a killer Alhambra view.
Next: 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