Andalucia, Spain - 2018
This is our Spanish holiday in numbers, here’s how it panned out…
Our route around Andalucia
Day 1 : To Granada
8:05 flight from Gatwick
Our start to the holiday wasn't too bad, with an 8:05 flight from Gatwick, which went smoothly enough.
We eventually found the rental car pick up bus and picked up the car (upgraded to a 1.1 Ford Fiesta, probably just as well as suitcase filled boot on this one!) and set off for Granada, heading up the A7 to cut across the edge of the Sierra Nevada.
Soon after we left, though, we raun into torrential rain along the A7! At times people were slowing almost to a complete halt as even the fastest settings on the wipers failed to make any inroads into the water on the screen - It's been many years since I've seen rain like that and it made us wonder if maybe we'd picked the wrong time to come to Southern Spain!
Fortunately, it mproved as we swang north over the mountains.
Crossing the Sierra Nevada
We arrived in Granada easily enough and found the square that our hotel was 'near' according to the instructions, but finding hotel proved a bit tricky. In the end I hopped out while Mandy stayed with the car and managed to find the hotel on a tiny street.
I got instructions from the man on reception (who was always very helpful) to the tiny, cramped underground car park nearby. It was 18 Euros a night to park, but worth having for peace of mind of having parking at all!
The hotel (Navas 14) room was quite small and basic, with a view of a ventilation space and nothing else, but it was cheap, the man on reception was friendly and very helpful, the wifi signal strong and the bed was reasonably comfortable.
The central location was excellent, too, so no complaints.
That evening we had dinner in a small cafe nearby and then got an early night ready for Alhambra palace the next day.
Day 2 : Granada
I had booked tickets for the Alhambra in advance (It seems it's advised, if not essential, even in October) for 9:00AM, on the basis that it might be really hot later on, but the day dawned overcast (and fact it rained a little on and off for much of the morning), but Mandy insisted that we would have time to walk to the Alhambra before it opened, so we did, arriving only just in time after taking a wrong turning somewhere in town.
We queued in gentle rain to get access to the Nasrid Palaces, but weren't too wet. Already there were plenty of people around and it only got busier as the day went on.
The Nasrid Palaces are the ancient Moorish palaces forming part of the large Alhambra and Generalife (not an insurance company, as I thought!) complex.
First day dawned overcast
Nasrid Palaces feature a lot of carved plaster and tiles
Courtyards abound in the Nasrid Palaces - This is one of the most famous
If you're used to European castles and palaces, the Alhambra is a bit of a culture shock, but in a good way. The architecture and decor, as well as the extensive arabic script, is straight out of the Arabian Nights and moving from room to room and palace to palace, it was hard not to be a little awestruck, it really is different to anything we'd seen before and rather wonderful.
Lovely courtyard with Lion Fountain
Hint of original blue remains on some of this plasterwork.
Arabic script features heavily in the plasterwork
Doors are archways, but not like a Roman or Norman arch, the walls are covered in carved plasterwork, often embellished with Arabic script (mostly from the Koran I understand), but mostly white as the colour has been lost on the whole. Here and there, there are glimpses of original or restored colour and I can only imagine how sumptuous these rooms were in their heyday.
Water is a big part of the Palaces, inside and out...
...as are shaded gardens
Between, and sometimes within, buildings there are courtyards with ponds, streams or fountains and there are many galleried rooms looking out over the hills and town of Granada.
Another garden within the Nasrid Palaces
Galleried stairs afford view over old Granada and hills
Leaving the Nasrid Palaces and into more gardens
Heading out of the Nasrid Palaces the weather was brightening a little as we explored some of the gardens and other builidngs, before heading to the castle end of the complex.
This building sits outside the palace overlooking the Generalife
Here a number of impressive towers linked by walls form a citadel dominating one end of the hill that the Alhambra sits on. Most of the castle is ruins, but it's still an impressive structure and by now the sun was shining, which was to become a bit of a theme for a number of our days in Spain.
Citadel end of the Alhambra overlooking Granada
Mandy and the Sierra Nevada from the Citadel - Weather's improved
Gardens even a feature of the Citadel
Generalife as seen from the Nasrid Palaces
We briefly visited the circular, galleried building too, that looked a bit like a Roman theatre, but doesn't seem to have served the same purpose. Now it's an art gallery and museum.
Circular building, now an art gallery and the museum.
We followed the wall of the Alhambra palaces along to the end of the valley and then turned back on ourselves to skirt the otherside and enter the Generalife.
Alhambra walls and moat from one of the towers along the wall.
Alhambra walls from Generalife
This, as I understand it, was more of a place of relaxation and recreation, with small buildings, but extensive and more verdant gardens than the Nasrid Palaces.
Generalife palace gardens heavily feature water
Staircase with water channels in handrails.
We climbed a staircase with streams running down the handrails and finally made our way out of the complex and back down towards the old part of Granada, passing more than a few gasping people making the steep ascent!
Wisteria shaded path back down, within Generalife
If you're ever in this part of the world, definitely visit the Alhambra, it is well worth it!
We decided to grab some lunch and one restaurant's menu photos looked very appealing, with a Moorish Tajin featuring chunks of meat and plump vegetables. If have to say that what arrived was not what we saw on the photo! It tasted OK (no more, to be honest), but it was more like a greasy soup!
We headed back through the streets of Granada, past the Cathedral and a few other historical sites before having a bit of a rest in our room (I'd developed a raging headache, possibly due to getting dehydrated in the afternoon sun).
Cathedral, to right, and old part of town
This building is surprisingly old, although it looks quite modern - They wouldn't let us eat ice cream in the courtyard though!
Later that evening, we strolled back to the old town to see the Alhambra by night. Had we been here longer, we would have probably done a night tour of the Palaces too, but this was a whistlestop tour and we only had the one full day here.
Alhambra by night
Alhambra by night from the old town below
Onto the next part of the Spain 2018 Report.