Amazing Alhambra

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April 23rd 2017
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 37.1765, -3.59793

On Saturday we left Valencia at 8am. The streets were very quiet at that hour and we were soon out and on the road. We headed south and for a while were close to the coast. We stopped about 10am at a seaside town, Villa Joyioso where we walked along to the beach and then had a coffee at the local yacht club which was very pleasant. This town was just past Benidorm one of the big resort towns with huge buildings overlooking the seaside and jamming into any high spots .I preferred the small seaside village in which we stopped. Back on the road again we drove through agricultural land with Moorish castles which had been converted by the Christians in later years, dotted along the high ground. Granada and its surrounds was a stronghold during the Moors occupation of Spain with the Sultan living in Granada at the Alhambra.

About 2pm we stopped at one of the service centres for lunch and a toilet stop. This was a ham and cheese roll washed down with some white wine sold in airline size bottles. Tasty overall.,but enough for lunch. We arrived into Granada about 4pm and settled into our rooms. The hotel was a converted convent with the rooms being rather small but comfortable. The entrance hall was tiled with colourful Moorish patterned tiles and the hotel is next to a church and our window looked out on a school yard. At 5-30pm we reconvened in the foyer and then Lucy took us on a walking tour to orientate us to the town. We walked over the bridge which spans the main river here and then walked up a main shopping street in the new town. Lucy pointed out the restaurant in which we would be dining tonight. We then proceeded to the old city and went through the narrow streets to a vibrant square where there were several restaurants and a live band was playing. Through another side street we found the Royal Chapel where our city tour will finish tomorrow. We then went further up the street to where buses left to take passengers to the San Nicholas viewpoint opposite the Alhambra. Then after she was sure we knew where to go she left us to wander with instructions to reconvene at the restaurant at 8pm.

We looked through some of the small souvenir shops and then returned to the square. We had a couple of beers at a restaurant enjoying the ambience especially as the town was bustling with people, families heading out for a family dinner, young people gathering for a Saturday night out and older couples enjoying the mild evening. Our beers were accompanied by free tapas dishes which were delicious. We then went to the Tapas restaurant, Posado del Duendo for our included meal. This was great. We started with cold Iberian ham and cheese and then some delicious Foie Gras all served with crispy bread. Then a spinach and cheese dish before a tasty pork steak topped with a raisin sauce. The accompanying red wine went down well. A good finish to a long day.

The nexr morning we left the hotel at 8 and were driven up to the top of the hill where the magnificent Moorish Palace, the Alhambra stands. Here we were met by our local guide, Elisa who guided us through the buildings and grounds. We started at the Palace of Charles V who built it in the grounds after he had spent his honeymoon at the Alhambra. However, he lost interest and never finished it. It is now used as a Museum and concert hall. From there we walked to the main entrance of the palace itself, The first section is called the Nasrid palaces and consists of several rooms decorated with moulded arabic inscriptions across the walls and the ceilings of the rooms. These were once brightly coloured and some of the now faded reds and greens can be seen underneath the archways and roofs which are beautiful.We saw the room in which the sultan received his subjects and then moved into the Comares Palace in which the Sultan and his family lived. This is a stunning area with courtyards central to the surrounding rooms. Water is a feature with pools in the courtyards and a small fountain in each room. The pools are reflecting adding to the beauty.The Ambassadors Hall is spacious with highly decorated walls and high ceilings. The windows give vistas out over the surrounding gardens

We then came to the Lions' palace. The rooms are around a central courtyard in which stands an impressive fountain with 12 lions around a raised circular pool. The plasterwork which adorns the arches here is exquisite.There were many other rooms we saw and we finally walked out into the adjoining gardens. These are also stunning with water features and monuments.We walked through hedged garden plots filled with brightly coloured anemones , ranuncli and pansies with beautiful roses also featuring. We ascended the hill through more stunning gardens to the summer palace, where the king's family could come for the day for a picnic or recreation and then return to the main palace for the night. Bowers of climbing roses, fountains playing along narrow water channels and decorative courtyards certainly are very inviting. The place is extremely well kept and it was very pleasant wandering through this area.

At the end of our tour we walked back down to the old part of town along a wooded walking path. This was a great walk with the day being sunny but not too hot. This brought us down to the Royal Chapel where Isabella and Ferdinand are buried. Granada was surrendered to these two by the sultan in 1492 and Granada became Catholic again. Isabella loved the city so much that she commissioned this chapel as her burial place. As it happened she died before it was finished but she was temporarily buried at the Alhambra.The chapel has a simple cross structure with a high altar on which the sarcophagi of Isabella and Ferdinand are situated, Next to them is also the figures of Juana,the Mad the daughter of Isabella and her husband, Phillip the Handsome. Their coffins however, are underneath the altar in the Crypt. The small museum adjacent has some valuable paintings from Isabella's own collection as well as her crown and sceptre and Ferdinand's sword. .All very interesting.

By this time it was 2pm and I was exhausted (I have not been well during this trip). We went back to the restaurant in the square, Centro and we had the menu of the day for only 11-30 Euro. We both had mixed paella for main course while I started with a creamy vegetable soup while Fletcher had pasta bolognese. We finished with icecream. We revived by sitting in the square with a nice bottle of Verdejlo. Our walk back to the hotel took us through some interesting small streets and I finally then indulged in that Spanish custom , the siesta.

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25th April 2017

Dear Colleen,What an historic part of the world.- Your tour sounds wonderful.I imagine they are full and tiring days.Look after yourself.Love ,Jill.
26th April 2017

Hi Colleen. Sounds like you are both having a great time touring around.I hope you feel better soon so that you can enjoy the trip better.Not sure if you will be seeing Cadiz, but I loved the area.I'm enjoying your posts.Love, Veronica.

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