“Granada! Holy place of the glory of Spain, Your mountains are the white tents of pavilions, Your walls are the circle of a vase of flowers, Your plain a Moorish shawl embroidered with colour, Your towers are palm trees that imprison you” – José Zorrilla y Moral
We had nice accommodation in Granada, a studio apartment with kitchen and living room. We liked it and congratulated ourselves on our good fortune and then immediately set off into the city in search of something to eat.
Unlike the previous stop in Puerta de Don Fadrique the streets were busy and everywhere was open so there was a lot of choice. It was mid afternoon by now so we only wanted a snack so we found a tapas bar and then proceeded to order far more food than we really wanted.
We needed to walk it off so after we had finished and settled up we set off towards the Alhambra Palace and a viewing point called the Mirador directly adjacent.
After a gentle stroll along the banks of the Rio Biera the road turned sharp left with signposts to the viewing platform which involved a much steeper climb than we had really anticipated when we had set out. The road seemed to go on forever and become steeper and steeper by the step. The smart people zoomed past on the shuttle buses that were taking passengers to the top but without a ticket we just had to continue slogging away.
It was one of those climbs when every so often you think you are there but you are not, hopes are dashed and another set of steps appears ahead and then another dog-leg to tease and to taunt.
Eventually however we were at the top, there was nowhere else to climb and there was a welcoming bar and some vacant tables. Hardly surprising really because the prices were as high as the elevation but to be fair we were paying not only for the beer and wine but the magnificent view as well and we sat and looked out over the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains to the south and in the foreground the Alhambra Palace and the hundreds of visitors climbing around the walls. Busy because with three million visitors a year it claims to be the most visited site in Spain.
The top ten most visited are the Alhambra, Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Mosque at Cordoba, Santiago de Compostella, Burgos Cathedral, the Alcazar of Segovia, Roman Theatre at Merida, Casa Mila in Barcelona, the Cathedral and La Giralda in Seville and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I have visited them all except for the Guggenheim.
The Alhambra complex was built for the last Muslim Emirs in Spain during the the Nasrid dynasty who at the time were becoming increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After the final expulsion of the Moors and being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, the Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who carried out retaliatory destruction of the site.
Our original plan was to visit the Palace but due to some sloppy travel planning on my part this wasn’t going to be possible this time. It seems the place is so popular and so busy that during the peak season it is necessary to book tickets at least three months in advance and when I eventually got around to doing it I had left it too late. Never mind, on the plus side it means we may need to back.
So for this time anyway we had to satisfy ourselves with a wonderful view of the exterior which I have to say provided a significant amount of compensation. When we had finished our drinks and had stopped drooling over the view we made our way back down into the city which thankfully was a lot easier than the climb up.
We sat for an hour or so now and enjoyed the accommodation before going back into the city for evening meal. We didn’t go far, just into the next street where there was a good choice of restaurants, using the selection criteria of looking at what other people were eating and spotting a man with a very nice steak we chose the first one that we came to and enjoyed a simple meal and a jug of house wine.
We liked Granada and we looked forward to a full day in the city tomorrow.