What is Spain without its South? After all much of the stereotyping this country gets comes from this region: that Spain is all flamenco, siesta, lazy sunny weather and toros. A lot would say that in order to get a proper image of Spain, that would entail traveling to Madrid, Barcelona and Granada. This is why I cannot ever ever forgive myself if I happen to skip Granada.
Well, that Granada trip was fulfilled at last!
May 1, I traveled with my Spanish course buddy from Latvia, Dita. We took a bus from Madrid going to Granada. The trains are really expensive so we were saving the train for our trip back.
I’d have you know that least 2 weeks before going to Granada, I was quite worried we may not be able to get in the Alhambra. It’s the highlight of that trip and I could liken not seeing it to going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. It was that important! You see we were traveling on a puente, that beautiful word used by the Spanish to refer to a working day sandwiched between two non-working days that automatically converts that lone working day into a non-working day and voila! a long weekend you have. 1 May was Labor day and the next day, 2 May was local holiday in Madrid.
So this particular puente, these Madrileños have all decided to come to Granada and all the online tickets for the Alhambra were sold out. They do say that you can buy tickets on the same day but I was worried they’d run out of that too since they limit the number of people getting in. Anyway, Dita and I have decided that we would be queuing by 6am to get tickets.
We arrived at 5pm in our hostel, White Nest Hostel, which is situated in one of the side streets by the Carrera del Darro, a cobble-stoned street to the left of the river Darro.
The day is almost gone so there’s really nothing much to do than to stroll around the casco antiguo (city center), have some sangría and watch the semis of the Champions League between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich (rooting for the latter). We downed some local beer while watching. I was careful to keep my composure all the time – preventing to cheer whenever Bayern scores a goal. I was in Spanish territory after all. 😉 It was the greatest defeat I’ve seen of Barca. The total score during the semis between the two teams was 7-0 in favor of Bayern. Imagine!
Dita was sad that Barca lost. She’s a David Villa fan hence the support for Barca, the same way I’m supporting Bayern because of Mario Gomez. 😉 Right after the game we headed back to the hostel to get an early rest since we have set our alarm clocks for 5:30 am. All for an entrance to the Alhambra!
May 2. Up by the designated time we set off for the 25-minute walk from the hostel to the Alhambra entrance. Quite an exercise too since it was uphill. We arrived a little before 6:30 am and there were people queuing already. We were about the 17th in line, not bad. What was bad was the weather. It was really cold! We have our jackets and scarves but they weren’t enough to combat the early morning cold. It was set to be a beautiful 15°C by noon but until then we have to wait in agony.
At around 7:30 am an employee announced that the cafeteria was open. I decided to get us some hot drinks. When I came back, I saw this guy behind Dita who wasn’t there before. She was quick to tell me the story of what that guy just did. This asshole of a guy cut in line in front of her. He has the lamest excuse ever! And a bad liar at that. He was telling Dita he was there at around 5 but had to go back down to the center to withdraw money to pay for the entrance. That was unacceptable! She was telling him off until he settled behind us. I was surprised that the group of three people right behind us didn’t seem to mind that there’s this guy in front of them. After a few minutes, one of the men asked us if that cutting-in-line-guy was with us. Since he wasn’t, he confronted the guy who was real stubborn by the way and insisted on his excuse. The man then proceeded to report him to security. In the end, he wasn’t able to get in. Serves him right!
Now to forget him since we were able to get our tickets, yey!
By the time we were able to get in at 8, the sun was starting to send in its wonderful rays. The weather was getting perfect and we were inside a medieval fortress surrounded with manicured gardens and Moorish architecture. ☼
Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex built by the Muslim emirs (princes) of region of Al Andalus (present day Andalucía). The ruling Nasrid dynasty reached its zenith politically and culturally during the 14th century.
These wonderful ornamental design of the arches is called Mocárabe or honeycomb work, a style of Islamic architecture which was used extensively in the Alhambra.
I am so fascinated by Moorish arches that it has now become my dream to incorporate it in my future dream house. 🙂
We went up one the tallest tower called Torre de la Vela to drink in more of the sights.
It was almost 12:30 noon when we left the Alhambra. We were there for four hours. Wow. So happy I have seen it! Before, I only see it from my books when I was enrolled in Instituto Cervantes in Manila but now I’ve actually visited it. 😀 Happy gal.
We didn’t have proper breakfast. For lunch, another glass of sangría and something typical from Granada would have to be ordered so gazpacho fits the bill. Gazpacho, is a type of cold soup made from tomatoes and cucumber. It’s so refreshing and tasty.
We also ordered revuelto de champiñón (scrambled eggs with mushrooms) and patatas rellanas (stuffed potato) in Sicilian with tuna.
After our hearty meal, we trekked up to the Mirador de San Nicolás, a popular viewing spot. It is a steep climb and the road quite difficult to walk on since they’re made of stones. It a very touristy place, well of course it is since it appears on all must-see guidebooks. It is also where the gypsies of the village sell their trinkets.
We went back to the hostel and decided to do that Spanish thing called siesta. We were up so early so we could use some power nap. By 5:30 pm, we set off again to walk the streets of Granada. We bought ice cream.
We bought it from an ice cream shop that always has this lots of people in it. It’s called Los Italianos. With the fame of the Italians for their gelatos, I’d say it’s a great way to name their business. But other than that, the ice cream is really good!!! The flavor I ordered is made of yema, coffee and cream with bits of chocolate and nuts. I went in, didn’t know what to order, saw the ice cream lady preparing an order of a customer and it looked appealing to me. I then asked the ice cream lady what the layers were. I hesitated at the mention of coffee, I thought it was chocolate. The man who ordered it then told me that that particular flavor was lo mejor, one of the best. I assumed he was a local to be able to say that. I took his cue and never looked back. It was really lo mejor! 🙂