June 22 and 23 – Granada

Thursday

We’re off the coast and it’s hot: 40 C, 104 F! Glad we had some break-in time over the past 6 weeks. Arrived, ate, napped. Very Spanish.  Went out for the evening and, for us, late.

We are located at the Plaza Neuva, which puts us close to the Alhambra and Albayzin neighborhood.  It’s busy and touristy, but at the center of all things we want to experience in our short stay.  We started our evening with a walk up to the popular overlook Mirador de San Nicolas.  From there, the Alhambra is just across a ravine, on the next ridge.


From there, we did a wander towards anything that looked interesting.  Small plazas dot the city, seemingly every couple of blocks (whatever that means), connected by narrow streets and alleyways.  Traffic is mostly on foot, but scooters, cars and mini-buses squeeze through the wider slots.

The street above is considered wide enough for cars.

There were lots of interesting spots worthy of a quick photo.  One of my favorites was this spice shop.  We bought some paella spice for a gift and some dry BBQ rub (add olive oil, vinegar & water, then slather on meat).


As afternoon retrogated into evening, we found ourselves along the Darro River paseo, the river, now, just barely a creek.  A cooling breeze and an inviting plaza recommended themselves for a dining spot.  We ate light, gazpacho and caprese salad, then went back into wandering mode, with the intention to find the tapas district.

Granada after dark is totally lively, and, I’d say, pretty darn hedonistic.  Food and drink are what’s happenin’, and much (most?) of it is al fresco.

Above is a main drag; too traffic-noisy for my taste, but it has appeal for some.  The pedestrian-only side streets are were it really bustles.  Cheek to jowl, they say, and that would be an apt description of the arrangement of the dining spots.


Tapas are the main offerings, but substantial fare is available, too, like the paella, below.

We did not eat again, though it would have been fun to absorb the vibe from a stationary position.  Returned to the hotel about 11:30 PM and slept hard.

Friday

Our plan is built around the Alhambra and eating.  Unfortunately, the eating part got short shrift until a late dinner; visiting the Alhambra was a long shift.  

The hike up the western approach was memorable because it was just that, not a walk, not a stroll.  Shar’s Fitbit says we climbed 48 stories worth of steps.  The site certainly dominated the surrounding area.

I’d love to give you a 25-word history, but because of the many changes and changing of hands, that would be impossible.  Here’s a semi-distilled attempt:  The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications. It was largely ignored until the mid-13th century when it was renovated and rebuilt by a Moorish Emir who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by a Sultan, Yusuf I. After the conclusion of the Christian conquest in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance tastes. In 1526, Charles I & V (double dipping there, Chuck?) commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the Mannerist style, etc., etc.

So, today it’s largely rebuilt, again.  Modern-ish brick replaces stonework throughout many of the structures.  Given how many times it’s been renovated, some of it doesn’t look nearly as old as other parts.  The fortress is still imposing.

Whereas the garden palace looks relatively modern.

Water features dominate the grounds, partly because it’s a sign of power.  



The main palace must be the big draw because we couldn’t get tickets 3 days ahead.  We saw just about everything else in about four hours.  On a 105 F day, that’s plenty.

After our late afternoon siesta, we had two hours before dinner for aimless exploring. It was highly rewarding for architectural amazement and souvenir capturing.  I’ll spare you details of the latter.  The Palacio de la Madraza was a find.

That’s a whole lotta detail work, eh.  And stunning!

After a scrumptious dinner at El Mercader, we encountered a dance recital (?) happening on the plaza, right in front of the hotel. Several groups seemed to be competing/demonstrating choreographed swing-era jazz dance.  Very energetic!

Onward! And back to the boat, tomorrow.

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