October 30, 2011
We were excited to see the Alhambra today and glad to have our reservations for 8:30 entry in hand. We made the walk up the long hill across the street from our hotel. Things got a little more exciting and/or perilous as we found that the reservations meant we still had to wait in a decent line to get tickets from several balky terminals… and that we’d missed the line of Spanish in the reservation that said we should show up an hour before our reservation time. Once we got our tickets, we were told that we’d better hustle on the walk, advertised as 17 minutes, to the entrance to the main palace or risk being turned away. It’s nice when all that running has an actual purpose sometimes, and all the nimbleness developed by dodgeball in gym gave us the skill to negotiate thick crowds of Japanese tourists (always reliable for the first tour of the day). We made it with time to spare, possibly setting an American Record for that particular course.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but the Alhambra was likely the star of all the “sites” we’ve seen on our mini grand tour here of Spain the last couple of weeks.
A word about Granada, which is starting to sink in a bit. When we first arrived yesterday, we went a couple of blocks over to a place where our friend’s niece had recommended a spot for vegetarian tapas. We sat down on a couple of low-slung orange chairs and ordered some cervezas, tapas, and falafel… and watched the scene. A little impromptu dance party broke out with four or five youngsters and a lady in her sixties; there was a bull terrier sleeping on the floor by the bar, a couple of other dogs wandering in and out, little kids. Things picked up a notch when one of the waiters went in back and put on Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” covered in an unfamilar tongue, then he yelled “Iceland!” More dancing. The town is a kind of young person’s dream with the cafes, the nearby mountains for skiing, the beach not far away, the old gypsy cave neighborhood of Sacromonte where they say flamenco was born. Plaza Nueva, where our hotel is located, is the main crossroads where the downtown of a modern Spanish city of pretty good size meets the road up to the Alhambra, meets the cobbled streets up to the Albayzin, the old Moorish neighborhood, and the steep road out to Sacre Monte which heads out into a valley that feels like you’re leaving civilization behind. (We saw a Jesus-like hippie dude in wool poncho heading up the very steep hill on a mountain bike carrying two long sticks that seemed to be of great importance to him. Who knows? Always something intriguing/amusing to see.) It all combines to make for a sort of Euro frontier town where I could imagine Eugene Hutz, wild-eyed lead man of Gogol Bordello, as mayor.