Monday, May 31, 2010
We spent a week in Granada and stayed in two different parts of town. The first place was near Plaza Nueva in the El Albayzín, the city's old Moorish district. We had a spectacular view of the Alhambra, the majestic Moorish palaces and fortress complex on the hills.
It's easy to get lost walking through the neighborhood of El Albayzín. Lots of winding and narrow streets and alleyways teaming with white washed homes. One of the most beautiful lookout points is from La Plaza de San Nicolas, where you can see the Alhambra in the foreground of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountain range.
(Jackson enjoyed the view and got a good whiff of the joint the guy behind us was smoking)
We visited the city's Cathedral, a very large Gothic styled church that took over 180 years to complete. I wish we did the audio guide since it's hard to appreciate all the details of the design and architecture.
After a few days in El Albayzín, we moved to an apartment near the University of Granada, a more suburban part of town.
It was nice to be away from the more touristy areas and enjoy living amongst the locals. We (I) cooked, watched American television in Spanish and took siestas. The first apartment didn't have a washer so it was nice to be able to do laundry at the second place. I was initially disappointed by the lack of a dryer but everything dried beautifully under the sun in one afternoon, with a makeshift clothesline using a broomstick between two chairs on the deck.
One thing we noticed in the university neighborhood was the presence of graffiti on every block. Some random tags but mostly political statements including words like "Libertad", "Capitalismo", and the anarchism symbol. I wonder if this is unique to this area or if it is fairly common across Spain.
The highlight of our time in Granada came near the end of our stay - visiting Alhambra. We had to reserve entry tickets a week in advance and were only able to visit during our allotted time. We arrived an hour prior to our entry time as indicated on all guides only to find ourselves waiting outside the entrance for no good reason. I think it's a ploy to get you to browse the gift shop outside the entrance for an hour.
Alhambra is a sprawling complex of palaces, gardens and the alcazaba (fortress). The visit took us three hours! This time we did go with the audio guide. It was interesting to hear about the history but a bit cheesy as the narrator was supposed to be Washington Irving, the famous writer who started the tourist rush to Alhambra in the mid-1800s.
Nasrid Palaces (Royal quarters consisting of intricately designed facades, rooms and courtyards)
(Amazing details of the ceiling)
Alcazaba (Moorish fortress)
Generalife (Summer Palace of the royals, though only a 20 minute walk from the main palace)
Next up, Cordoba!