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.
Once 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.
After our breakfast (well, I had a hamburger), we wandered by the Catedral de Granada…
Walking around, I snapped one picture of the famous painting, Rendición de Granada (The Surrender of Granada)…
…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.
There 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.
The 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.
Before 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.
…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.
I 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.
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.
Gazing 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?”
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.
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.
The 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.
The Virgin Mary is in the center on the second level from the top next to some poor guy in a pot…
who looks like he is going to become someone’s dinner.
…saw my main man, St. Michael the Archangel…
…and The Virgin of Solitude from the 17th century and The Christ Recumbent from the 16th century.
We nearly had the place to ourselves.
Our last stop was in (I believe) the Chapel Of The Virgen de las Angustias.
We 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.
…I enjoyed a sumptuous saffron risotto (I’m just wild about saffron)…
Well, 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.
Tracy 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…
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.
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.
We continued on as there were lots of scarves and trinkets “on sale.”
Thankfully, it was Mary who eventually bought something.
Onward and upward we climbed…
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.
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.
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.
…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.”
Flamenco 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.
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.
As 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.
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.
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.
This 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).”
Our 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!”
To 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.
By 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.
That’s half of what a similar meal experience would be in L.A. “Spain, I love you!!”
Just 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