Thursday, December 17, 2015

Granada and the Alhambra (December 2015)

Pat and I went to Nerja, Spain, to celebrate Christmas with Jim and Mary Jane Vergin, our friends from across the street in Charlotte, NC. When Pat and I moved to Singapore, they decided to spend a year overseas in Spain, Ireland, and Germany.

Nerja is located on the Costa del Sol and the apartment they rented is only a short walk to the Mediterranean Sea. It is also a short bus ride (about 2 hours) from Granada, the home of the Alhambra, a former Moorish fort/palace, with its first structure being built in 889. The name means "Red Castle".

We arrived in Granada on a Thursday afternoon and checked into the Hotel Inglaterra, for our 2-night stay. I found this hotel on booking.com and picked it because of the price and the great location. The rooms were nice; the bathrooms newly remodeled.

Since our entry tickets for the Alhambra were for Friday morning, we set out for a walk. Our first destination was the Albaicin, an area near the Alhambra, "that retains the narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past. It was declared a world heritage site in 1984" (wikipedia). That description of the streets is so true. There are small plaza interspersed throughout.

In one of those plazas, Mary Jane and Jim waited for us to go retrieve a geocache (GC2NB69 Mirador de San Cristobal), our first in Spain. We then joined them for a beer and a tapas (which is often free with a beer!! Don't know how they can afford to do this but we loved it.). Jim and Mary Jane were just finishing up when we got back.

A view of the Albaicin

Albaicin Passage



Small plaza in the Albaicin

Strolling in the Abacin. Jim, Mary Jane, and Ray.

View of the Alhambra from the Albaicin

An old building in the Albaicin

Another plaza

Fish-eye view of Alhambra from geocache site

You can always count on seeing graffiti anywhere you travel

After walking down the hill from the Albaicin, we wandered along the river Darro until we found a restaurant for dinner - Ras Bar. Pat and I shared plates of Jamon Serrano (dry-cured, non-smoked ham from Spain) and vinegar-ed sardines. A bottle of wine was shared with Jim and Mary Jane.

Looking up from outside the Alhambra (along the river Darro)

Dinner Restaurant - Ras Bar

Wine at dinner


One of the churches we stopped in after dinner. Mary Jane, Jim, and Pat.

Below the Alhambra

The next morning, Friday, we had breakfast at the hotel and then took a cab to the Alhambra. Our tickets for access to the Nasrid Palace were for 9:30 AM, so we got there early enough to have a stroll from the entrance to the Palace without being rushed. As you can see in the photos below, the Nasrid Palace is spectacular.

Entrance to the Alhambra

Column top as we entered the Nasrid Palace

Looking at the Albaicin

Another nice column top

Reflecting pool in Court of Myrtles

Wall in the Court of Myrtles

Detail of wall in Court of the Myrtles

Looks like fleurs, Kathy

Nice carving

Fountain of Lions

One of the Court of Lions Pavillions

Near the Court of Kings

A wooden ceiling in Nasrid Palace

Beautiful carving

Nasrid Palace - the Enclosed Balcony of Lindaraja

Looking at geocache site from the Alhambra

After leaving the Nasrid Palace, we walked to the Generalife, the leisure place for the kings of Granada, located across the river and up the hill above the Alhambra.

Generalife

Lower Garden of Generalife

Jim and Pat taking photo of each other

Generalife Court of the Water Channel

We finished our visit to the Alhambra with a stop at the former Convent of San Francisco, which was converted into the government-run hotel, the Parador. We stopped for coffee and desert (Well Ray had coffee and dessert. The rest of us had wine). We have friends that stayed there many years ago for a mere $5/night and slept on the old convent beds. I went to the front desk to inquire about the current rates - €330/night ($358/night), and I bet there are better beds now. To be completely fair, that price included the entrance fee for the Alhambra grounds and the Nasrid Palace - what a deal!


Convent Of San Francisco (Parador)


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