A wet and windy morning here in Granada and so we are leaving to the coast of Cabo de Gata just East of Almeria. However, the weather stayed fine for our visit to the city of Granada and adjacent Fort, gardens and palaces that make-up the Alhambra.
We have been staying in a rather pleasant campsite 6Km south of the centre. No problems as the place is clean and tidy, well run with a half decent restaurant. Also the 4 times an hour bus into Granada stops outside the door.
Here we are:
Olvera to Granada 11/04/2015
The weather was wet for most of the journey and on a motorway for more than half the distance. A shame about the weather as the first half on the journey from Olvera to Antequera was rather pleasant, but the damp conditions prevented any sort of media capture. The motorway was free and accompanied as always in Spain by a High Speed Railway under construction. Now I’m no UKIP supporter, in fact I would like to stick a red-hot poker up Nigel’s Farage, but how comes Spain is totally EU funded and the rest of Europe pays for all its infrastructure?
We pitched up at the campsite at Le Zubia for a reasonable €18 a night, far better value than the €29 a day for a car park in town. After the long drive we treated ourselves to a meal in the campsite restaurant. We plumped for the stone grill. This is where you cook your own meal on a pre-heated lava stone. A dish I have been wary of since Willy Kirkpatrick set fire to a restaurant in Courmayor, Italy by lumping his T-Bone steak on one. Anyways it was delicious and we went to bed tired and happy.
This was for us a right proper Sunday. We did nothing.
Today was the day we explored Granada, not the Alhambra, but the rest of the city. A fine city it turned out to be. It is not grand like Seville, it is far more intimate and also appears to have more shopping choice. And Tracy took that choice to heart, restocking her wardrobe with various items including some padded cycling shorts. Ho hum. I made do with some casual shoes. We walked around the Cathedral, literally, we could not warrant the €8 entry fee. We walked past the Royal Graves, shut for siesta and headed for the world heritage suburb of Albaicin. On the way we stumbled on the Al-Andulas Hamman and booked ourselves in for wash, scrub and massage for Wednesday.
The climb up to the church of San Nicolas is one of those must-do things in Granada. It is the place for the money-shot featuring the Alhambra with a back-drop of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. And here is our take on the view.
Even in the off-season this place is crowded and you have to wait to take the pictures, it must be bedlam in the season and a pick-pockets delight. We walked back down towards the centre in the vain hope of a reasonable quality restaurant being open. On the way we walked past a vastly improved version of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Here we are:
We landed in a square for some liquid refreshment as it was only 7PM and nothing grub-wise was forthcoming until 8PM. Never mind, we can look in the shops, no we can’t, they are shut. So we walked around the Cathedral once again, still €8, still not getting our money. In this part of town there are a dazzling array of spices for sale in numerous shops and market stalls and they provide a fragrant aroma to the streets of Central Granada, beats the more oft smell of drains you get in this neck of the woods hands-down. A picture of the sweet-smelling part:
We managed to limbo under a half closed shutter at around 8 and plonked ourselves down for some Tapas. We were told to leave and come back in five minutes. So, we walked around the block and re-limboed ourselves back into the exact same spot as five minutes earlier. We could now stay and we were treated to a feast of excellent rustic Tapas. Brilliant. Tired, we got a taxi home.
The big day out, Spain’s number one sight, the pinnacle of Moorish architecture in Europe, a thousand years of history, The Alhambra, or red fort to you and me. I am not going to bleat on here about all the facts and figures about the place, if you want to know then follow this link: Alhambra Stuff
These days because of the popularity of the place you need to book a timed visit to the Nazrid Palaces, ours was at 13:00 and we planned for that to be the last area we would go to. This meant a start time of 10:00 to give us the time to explore the rest of the gardens and palaces. Here are our photos of the place:
So the verdict. Is it worth going to? Yes absolutely, especially at €14 a pop, but get there early. Is it the best thing in Spain? Not in our opinion, but we do not write guide books by using Google. Plan your toilet breaks. Toilets are few and far between and places to eat and drink are even more sparse, think vending machines. The gardens are stunning, sublime even. The Nazrid Palaces are also stunning. The Alcazar castle is not at the same standard, but the views are good. It is a great day out. We have made a video to help you make up your own mind and here it is: Granada Video
Exhausted after traipsing around hilly Granada for the last couple of days had set us up nicely for our couple of hours in the Hamman. Yes we know we should have gone to an original one in Morocco, but we didn’t, this was due to them being separate for each sex. When going into the unknown we like to do it together. The Hamman was a bit like the place in Bath in that it had pools of water at different temperatures, similarity over. We were in a low-light wonderland of Arabesque tiles and filigree plaster work. There were separate rooms for hot, cold, and medium heated baths, with tea available in each room. But before we could plunge in we were whisked off for a severe lathering. The first stage involved having buckets of hot water thrown over us and then being covered in a blanket of bubbles. Once covered we were scrubbed with sandpaper wrapped around a mitten, known I believe as a Kessa mitt. It was good. We then had to turn over for the same treatment on the other side.
After this we had a relaxing massage of amber infused oils. Another excellent choice as the tension and stress oozed away. We laid on a hot stone before amusing ourselves over the next hour going from pool to pool to steam-room to pool to pool. The day was rounded off with lunch in a square and early night before the long drive to Cabo de Gata.
To sum up Granada I will use the words of the immortal Lionel Richie in his homage to the Ford Motor Company: Fiesta, Sierra, Granada, all night long.
A good time was had by all, but it still ain’t the best thing about Spain.
Love to all