Where: Granada, Spain
When: February 2015
Weather conditions: mid 50s, wet (lots of rain during my quick visit) but good walking weather overall–bought umbrella at Alhambra giftshop–€25 (note: remember to pack an umbrella on future trips!)
How long? 3 days, 2 nights
Main attractions: Alhambra–Moorish sites
Fieldtrips: first leg of southern Spain tour (Granada & Seville with day trips to Ronda & Cordoba)
Frivolous but Fun attraction: the Arab Baths–have cutouts in the ceilings to allow natural light through–very different from the Roman Baths found in Bath, UK
Favorite museum: Real Capilla–tombs of the Catholic Kings as King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella were referred to throughout their reign and afterward–it’s the chapel attached to the Cathedral–the altar is a beautiful golden piece but, alas, no pictures are allowed inside the chapel.
Hidden Gem: Alhambra Cafeteria for churros y chocolat
Favorite historical site: Alhambra complex–Nasseries Palace–palace of the Moorish kings and later the Catholic Kings–the architecture is breath-taking. The plasterwork, tile work, and wood carvings are masterful. Intricate, delicate in appearance yet of such quality that the work is still a marvel to look at
Famous Faces: Federico Garcia Lorca (poet), US diplomat Washington Irving (inspired to write his Tales of the Alhambra), Joe Strummer from the Clash
Green Spaces: Generalife-summer residence/recreational area in the Alhambra complex
Favorite food/drink/snack: 1. Bretzel pastry we bought at the Alhambra cafe– a croissant like dough twisted with ropes of chocolate topped with sugared pralines. So freakin’ good–buttery, flaky, just enough chocolate, with the crunch of the sugared pralines…………washed it down with a cafe americano–strong coffee, sweet and lots of hot milk. 2. Churros y chocolat–a thick pudding like dark chocolate in a cup served with long sticks of fried dough–dip the dough in he chocolate and just savor it–one portion is perfect o share for two–we ordered two servings and we couldn’t do it justice!
Favorite restaurant/bar/pub: Damasqueros–at the base of the steps to the city center that run alongside the hill our hotel (Alhambra Palace Hotel) sits atop–we ordered Z Alhambra Especial beer along with our bocadillas and we received free tapas-yummy!
Funny moment? There were a few amusing moments…..1. on our way down to the city center, my sister encountered a group of local teenagers who asked my sister about her “selfie stick”–A young man and woman approached my sister and said, “that is…..ah….” and my sister replied, “ridiculousness”–everyone laughed–it was a quick, sweet conversation asking how it worked and we laughed about it later 2. on the way home the second night–we walked around and up a side street next to our hotel rather than face the 10 flights of stairs (literally) from the city center to the side of our hotel–an old man was drunk, smoking, and shuffling from some sort of stroke injury (his speech was slurred, but that could have been the drink)–he beat me to the top of the damned hill!
Tips: 1. C3 public bus runs all through town from the historic city center (at the base of the hills) to the higher elevations of the Alhambra (where our hotel was located) 2. When the gypsies approach with rosemary sprigs–put your hands in your pockets, nod “No” and walk away–they will chase you–but if they get their hand around your wrist–they hold on until you empty your wallet and they’ll make a scene until you do (saw it happen a few times while waiting for my sister to pick up our pre-purchased tickets to the Alhambra)
On a return trip, I would see……….go through some of the smaller churches and monasteries that we missed, return to the Alhambra to see the fine arts museum housed in the Carlos V Palace near the Nasseries Palace entrance & take the sightseeing tram to really get a look at the whole city and explore a bit at a time.