It wasn't supposed to be a tour...I had booked two nights in Granada for the end of December months ago. However what I didn't do was try to book a ticket to the Alhambra until just before I left home at the end of November. I decided to book my train tickets and after booking my Seville train tickets I decided I had better book my ticker to the Alhambra. SOLD OUT!! The only time I could have gone was the last two days of my time here which would mean come back from Seville one night and then take off again the next day. So I looked into available day tours from Malaga and saw one that was available on December 30th.
As it turned out this one went much more smoothly than the tour to Ronda. First of all I didn't have to be downtown as early and secondly our tour guide was much better. And we didn't have to go all along the Costa Del Sol picking up people - we all loaded up in Malaga. I sat beside a woman from Australia who was once again very interesting so that made the time go quickly as we chatted pretty well nonstop.
Just over two hours and a coffee/pee stop later we were in Granada. We were split into English and Spanish/German groups. I must say it was nice to have to listen to English only and it was over ear phones so we didn't have to crowd in to hear her amongst all the other tours going at the same time. Our guide Carmen was friendly and so knowledgeable. The place was absolutely packed and Carmen figured the max of 8,000 would be in that day - well I knew that already as it was sold out all through December.
The Alhambra means "the red one" and takes its name from the bricks of its outer walls. The Moors started building the Alhambra in the 13th century and lived there until they surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. Granada was the last bastion of Moors until then as they had been run out of Seville and other cities. They left peacefully in order that the Catholics would not destroy their beloved palace. It is said that families in Morocco still have keys to what were their homes in Granada. Much of the Alhambra was nearly blown up during the Napoleonic occupation when it was used as barracks so much of it has been lovingly restored.
We were fed loads of information but as all things these days in one ear and out the other for most of it - thank goodness for Lonely Planet! Because of the crowds we had to move quickly and it was difficult to get good photos. With my slow walking and love of photography I was quite often at the end and trying to locate our group. Yes she was talking in my ear but where the hell was she? I so wished I had thought to book early and gone on my own. Yes I would have missed the commentary but I could have taken my time, read my Lonely Planet on the Kindle, not "snapped" wildly at things with my camera as I staggered past and not struggled to keep up with the group on the many stairs. It's ironic I ended up on two tours as fear of not being able to keep up with a tour with my bad knee is the main reason I am not in Sri Lanka and South India right now - yes sorry Spain but you were not my first choice!
The first gate...the white mark above the first arch is a key - one of the seven keys to paradise.
Love the doors!
The details is absolutely amazing and everything has a meaning.
One of the ceilings
Courtyard of the Lions fountain
View from one of the terraces
The Generalife Gardens which were open for everyone "back in the day". I wish I could have sat and "stayed a spell".
It really is a beautiful complex and it always amazes me how these buildings were built back when things were so much more "simple"than they are now. Okay..we know they had slaves but still...the work is so beautiful and they really did think of everything. What architects!
We were dropped off in Granada city centre and while I would have loved to have seen the Albayzin (Old Muslim quarter) I just did not have the energy to walk there. I walked around a bit taking a few photos and then stopped to have a vegetable sandwich for lunch.
I would have liked longer to explore Granada but alas it wasn't to be. I could say next time but honestly I don't think I will be back. There are too many other places to explore!
Back to central Malaga by just after 6 tired but happy. It may not have been the visit to Granada I had visualized for myself but at least I have seen the Alhambra.