It’s been nearly 800 years since I ruled Granada from my residence, Alhambra, and much has changed since those times. My once grand palace is now only a museum, a shell of what it once was.
No longer do its walls protect it against its many enemies. And the now grand city of Granada rumbles with the sound of automobiles and people going about their busy modern lives. People arrive daily from all parts of the world on flying machines for a glimpse into the past for only a few days before returning to their busy daily lives .
But few seem to notice that much remains as it was. Wars were waged to promote one religion over another or due to racial hatred. People of different religions or races were segregated from one another and could not or would not interact. People suffered under oppressive governments. Today, it is not so different, but on a much grander scale. After all this time I thought that perhaps humanity would learn, evolve into a gentler kinder species. So might be the thoughts of the ruler of Alhambra, Mohammed I ibn Nasr during its heyday, the 13th century, if his spirit could roam the earth.
I’m writing this post just days after the shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota that killed 2 black men and the shootings in Dallas that killed 5 police officers. So what does that have to do with traveling and the chronicling of those travels? Everything! We’ve said it many times: Travel teaches that, although we may have cultural differences, we all have the same needs and wants and hopes. That we all love our families and want them to be safe and happy. When that really sinks in, maybe, just maybe, we as a species, will be less likely to take another’s life because of racial or religious prejudice. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be less likely to be seduced by political rhetoric to perform abominable acts. Oh, I’m not naive enough to think that travel alone will solve the problems of the world. But I can tell you that it does change you and it will make you a kinder, more tolerant, more compassionate human being. And that’s a start. So travel!
Encourage your friends and family members to get out there. They will be the better for it. Yes, there are risks, but the result completely outweighs the risk. So, how was our adventure to Granada, you ask?
It’s a relatively short journey by bus from Seville, our last adventure, to Granada, about 3 hours, which would leave us plenty of time to explore after settling in to our next Airbnb accommodation. Our accommodations are a good distance from the bus station, and as we are to learn, totally uphill, so we hire a taxi. And we learned quickly that there is very little in Granada that is flat, so bring your finest walking shoes. We were located at the top of a very steep hill in the older section of the city within walking distance of Alhambra. Good news, right? Well sort of. Alhambra, like everything else is downhill from our ‘home’. Getting there would be easy. We could just roll all the way there. The getting back part, now that would be a tough hike.
We need a plan. To develop this plan we need to get a lay of the land, so we decide to walk (or roll) to Alhambra, from there we can figure what else is around and the availability of public transportation. We also needed to pick up our entry tickets. By the way, Alhambra is a very popular tourist attraction. Get your tickets in advance, on-line at TicketMaster, and pick them up at will-call the day before. You also must pick the time you want to enter the site. We picked the time they opened so that we could be there with the first group.
Fewer people results in better photos and a better overall experience. One final bit of advice: Don’t be late or they will deny entry.
OK, where was I? Oh yeah, the plan: So we’ve walked, downhill, to Alhambra, scoping out potential eateries and Apero Time establishments along the way (more on those later), we have our tickets for the next day, and we learn that the city center is less than a mile walk and it’s also downhill. WooHoo! Worst case is that we’ll hire a taxi to get us back up the hill to our home. But, no need for an expensive taxi ride because we found a local bus that would drop us off a mere 3 blocks from the house. Even I can do 3 uphill blocks. And the ride was entertaining; watching the driver maneuver the bus along narrow streets with hairpin turns, passing within inches of oncoming traffic was worth the price of the ride. Back home, it’s Apero Time on the patio. Oh yeah, I haven’t talked about our Airbnb home much. We have a 2 bedroom home with a livingroom, kitchen, and private outdoor patio. This is now our 4th Airbnb experience and we’ve found it to be an efficient, cost effective way to secure lodging.
The next morning arrives quickly as we need to be at Alhambra by 8:30 when the gates open to the grounds. Then it’s about a 20 minute walk to get to the actual Alhambra entrance to see the palace. And remember what I said earlier: Don’t be late! Plan on spending at least 4 hours to do the place justice. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here (more photos of Alhambra at the end of the post).
After walking our rectums off, adult beverages were in order as well as some food, so we walked into the city center and found a nice little sidewalk cafe for Apero Time and a few snacks. Properly medicated, it’s time to explore.
We round a corner to find ourselves in the midst of a full blown festival. There had to be thousands of people, some in traditional Spanish clothing, the streets decorated to the nines, marching bands, you name it. A party? For us? To this day we have no idea what the celebration was about, but it sure was fun to be in the midst of all this merriment.
All that merry making works up an appetite, so we’re off hunting for some good old Chinese food. And as luck would have it we found it. Sometimes you just get a craving and you have to go with it. Yes, we went all the way to Granada, Spain and ate Chinese food and it was pretty good.
But, we’re not through yet. We take the bus toward home, but this time we head for a cool little neighborhood park where a few restaurants set up tables for tapas and aperos. With your apero, in our case vermouth, they bring a tapas complimentary.
Sweet! But Carrie noticed fried sardines on the menu, so fried sardines it was. Pretty tasty! So enough walking, eating, drinking, and merriment for one day; time to head home. Tomorrow we head off to Portugal.
The road to Lagos, Portugal goes right through Seville, so instead of catching a bus from Granada to Lagos Carrie and Bill decide that we will try BlaBlaCar for the first leg back to Seville. If you haven’t heard of it, BlaBlaCar is like internet hitchhiking (www.blablacar.com). You login to BlaBlaCar’s website, find someone going where you want to go, agree on the fee, and setup a pick up spot. We were to be picked up at a gas station located near the freeway. This place was certainly popular because there had to be a dozen people waiting for rides.
We had no idea what type of car we would be riding in, nor anything about our driver, but, a few minutes after the designated pickup time a beautiful BMW pulls up in front of us and our driver emerges. He spoke no English so we put our best Spanish speaker, Carrie, in the front seat. Long story short, it was a fun 2.5 hour journey interacting as best we could with our driver who was very kind and patient. We’ll definitely give BlaBlaCar another shot when it fits our travel needs.
So, with this post we end our tour of Spain. Barcelona, Seville, and Granada were all amazing and the people we met along the way will not be forgotten. We will be back. More photos below…
Apero Time: Hike Drink Live Laugh ==> Peace
2 thoughts on “Granada – Alhambra, Spain: A City forged by Religions and Races”
Just wonderful you guys! WONDERFUL!
Thanks for the kind words, Liz! Alhambra was amazing. Hope all is well with you guys.