Chapter Seven: Alhambra By Day…Alhambra By Night

P1010758Chapter Seven:  Alhambra By Day…Alhambra By Night

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.

1 Plaza NuevaThe 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).

2 PastryAfter 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.

P1010745Instead 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).

P1000328Being 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.

TNT audioBe sure to purchase an audioguide.

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.

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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.

P1000325A beautiful pink structure stood to the right.

3 Paradour 2The Parador de Turismo San Francisco was once a series of palaces started in 1238 and became a mosque in the 1300s.

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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.

3 Parador SF

Today, it’s the Parador Nacional hotel, where you can spend the night (and a lot of money).

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The roses in the garden were blooming, and the entire area became a peaceful oasis.

P1000338It was nice being here early…

P1000331…as there was no one in this area except us.

P1010754Speaking of A Horse With No Name, also located on the grounds of the Alhambra is the Hotel America.  There were plants and birds and rocks and things.

P1000355                                                    4 Mosque Baths                      

Our next stop was the Bath Of The Mosque And The House, which was awash with history.

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Looking at some door hardware, I commented, “Nice knockers.”

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Tracy responded, “Thanks.”  Obviously, she has been watching Young Frankenstein too often.

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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.

P1010758Looming to the right of us was a huge fortress.

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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.

alcazaba 5The Alcazaba’s history can be traced back to the 9th century.

alcazaba 3We walked through what were once the barracks.

P1000367There are three large towers; The Broken Tower, The Keep and The Watch Tower.

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Because of his fondness for Jimi Hendrix, Kim walked all along the Watch Tower in a purple haze.

alcazaba 5The views were, as you can see…

alcazaba 8 view…pretty spectacular.

P1010764This is not a spot for someone with vertigo.

alcazaba 6There are four flags on the Torre de la Vila (the Watch Tower)…one each for Andalucía, Spain, Granada and the European Union.

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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).

P1010771We walked back through the Square Of The Cisterns over to The Palace Of Charles V, who decided to build himself a Renaissance palace inside this Moorish paradise.

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When you walk through the front, you’d never expect the building to actually be a circular one.

P1010772I never learned that in geometry.

carlosThe palace was started in 1527 and really was not completed until 1957.

carlos 2I guess La Sagrada Familia still has a ways to go to beat that record.

Carlos 3I ducked into the Museo de Bellas Artes on the second floor and took this photo.

P1010775Then I was told they did not allow photography. Spoil sports.  When we purchased our Alhambra tickets online, we also selected the 11 a.m. entrance time to the Palacios Nazaries, the Royal Palace.

P1000393We walked through a garden in front of Chuck’s palace and got in line (be sure you get here within a half hour of your time slot or you don’t get in.  Boy, are they strict!

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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.

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There were some very colorful…

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…and intricately detailed ceilings…

P1010917…including the one below from the Sala de los Reyes (Hall Of Kings).

alhambra 10This carving could be from the Ship Room, or I could have missed the boat completely on this photo.

P1000420There were Arabic inscriptions on the walls in many rooms.

P1000411I’m fairly certain this is from the Courtyard of The Myrtle, which is not a Dr. Seuss book about a turtle.

alhambra 5 poolThe Hall Of The Ambassadors is where the Sultan ruled.

alhambra 6These two photos are from somewhere in the palace…where, I have no idea, but Kim these two beautiful photos (below), which I wanted to include.

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We also hit the Court Of The Lions.

P1000435The lions date from the 10th or 11th century and were transported here.

P1000438Had we known the future…

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…we would have said a little prayer for Cecil.

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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.

P1000425We viewed the façade of the elaborate Comares Palace.

P1000415In the Hall Of The Two Sisters is a fabulous ceiling that has an eight-pointed star of the Mocárabes.

alhambra 9It had a sweet view, also.

alhambra 2We walked through The Washington Irving Room. The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow author lived here in 1829.  There was no Headless Horseman to be found.

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There was a hallway with sweeping views out to Granada.

P1010785These photos show the Mirador de Lindaraja Gardens.  At one point in time, you could see the entire city of Granada from this vantage point.

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The Linadaraja Courtyard has the peacefulness of a cloister.

P1010827I was thinking at this point, we still haven’t seen the gardens and we had been here more than three hours.

alhambra 12I thought we were going to the “Partial Gardens,” but instead was corrected, as they are actually the Partal Gardens. That was good because I hate only seeing a partial area of anywhere.

alhambra 14We walked around for a bit, and caught a glimpse of Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Alhambra.

alhambra 13I even reflected about our day so far since we were at the reflecting pool.

IMG_2249Tracy, Mary and I took time out from the tour to pose for a crazy photo, and then went to what we thought were the GENERALIFE Gardens.

P1000462In front of us lay a series of beautiful flowers and plants.

P1010839We thought the GENERALIFE Gardens were beautiful.

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Strolling through this floral wonderland…

P1000469…we took photos for about 15 – 20 minutes…

alhambra gardens 1…and went in search of the exit, because were hungry, and I had a GinTonic in my near future.  Fortunately we didn’t find the exit…

serling-tz-larger…because I thought I heard Rod Serling say, “There’s the signpost up ahead, you have entered the GENERALIFE Zone.”

P1000470Lunch and sobriety were temporarily put on hold…

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…because there was one walk left for us.

P1000482These 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.

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We traipsed through the hedge gardens…

P1000495…and its fountains.

P1000490Tracy was in floral heaven as there were an abundance of blooms everywhere.

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The Sultan’s Palace lay ahead…

P1000495…and once again you needed your ticket for this final phase the Alhambra tour.

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From every vantage point, I started to believe Gardens Of Paradise was the best meaning.

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The gardens were gorgeous…

IMG_2252…and it would have been a shame if we had missed them.

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There were tremendous views…

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…from this part of the garden.

General 3We 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.

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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.

 P1010869Kim and I enjoyed our melted cheese and chorizo, but what I really loved was my first Spanish GinTonic, served in a Balloon glass.

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It would not be my last.

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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.

CathedralIt 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.

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We wandered around the cathedral for about 20 minutes…

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…with Kim keeping a safe distance from the scofflaw with a camera.

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We exited and walked by the Capilla Real, where we would visit Isabella and Ferdinand first thing tomorrow morning.

P1010896On our way back to our apartment, we stopped again at our new favorite store on the Carrera del Daro.

StoreTracy bought out the entire shop’s supplies of scarves, or so it seemed.  They were very inexpensive, yet beautiful.

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We needed a siesta today, because we had 10 p.m. reservations for the Palacios Nazaries.

IMG_2317After the siesta, we enjoyed some wine on the rooftop before heading out to dinner.  What a view!

our view wineWe 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.

P1010898It was back to “New Granada” for us.   After searching for a bit, we came upon Carmela Restaurante, Calle Colcha 13. The terrace was full, so we were seated in the dining room.

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.

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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.”

P1010905Dinner (including my Sirloin tips with Marsala sauce on a bed of potatoes) was quite good…

P1010909…and we took our time since we figured we didn’t need to catch a cab until after 9:00, so we could get to the Alhambra a little early to take photos.  Ah, the best laid plans…

P1010910We 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.

P1010912I 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.

alhambra night 2We spent a little more than hour…

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…wandering a slightly different route than we had in the morning.

IMG_2270Some areas were off limits, and the colors really popped.

IMG_2284It was interesting to see the differences from our daytime visit…

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…and by now I realized, there ain’t no way to hide your lion eyes.

alhambra nightWe were able to pay a late visit…

alhambra night 3…to Chuck’s Palace.

alhambra night 4Upon reflection, the nighttime tour of the Alhambra was worth it, even having to scale Granada’s version of Mt. Everest to get there.  I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit at night…

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…but if I were to return, I might check out the nighttime tour of the GENERALIFE gardens instead.

P1010927 (1)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.

IMG_2289Our €5 taxi ride cost four times that much thanks to the parade.  On the way to our apartments we stopped for a short time to watch swing dancers cut a rug (or would that be marble).

P1010935                                           dancing

Up our narrow walking street, we walked to the apartments…

walk up…chatting about tomorrow’s activities.

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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.

our view nightBefore heading to bed, we all walked up to our rooftop for a look at the place we had spent nearly six hours on this day and night. Just like Motel 6, the Alhambra left the lights on for us.

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

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