Granada, the Glory of Andalusia


Due to the wacky train schedule, we drove to Granada from Valencia, . It was a four hour drive in a standard transmission car, uneventful except for the torrential rainstorm. I drove the last leg into the city. Paul, however, quickly kicked me out of the driver's seat after a pretty bad experience in a traffic circle. Lots of honking occurred. It had been a long time since I had driven a car with standard transmission.

We returned our car and caught  a taxi. Our apartment, in the old town, was on a street where some taxi drivers refused to go due to the narrow streets. In order to pass, the driver had to pull in both side mirrors. It was definitely a trek on foot as well, up and down the steep streets.

On our first night, we climbed farther up the hill to the Estrellas de San Nicolas restaurant, where we had the best table in the house, because we had the earliest reservation of the day. The food was delicious and we were treated to the sight of a double rainbow over the Alhambra. Of course, we met some delightful ladies from the Seattle.

The next day we visited Sacramonte, the gypsy quarter of the city, where many people still live in cave houses. After climbing up and down, wandering around, and visiting Museu de Sacramonte, which generally shows the cave culture, not real life quarters, we continued exploring the old town where we were living.

Online I discovered the necessity of making a reservation well in advance of the day you plan to visit the Alhambra castle. The reservation is a timed entry for the Alhambra itself, but no reservation is required for the the Generalife (He-ner-al-lee-fay)or the gardens of the Generalife. We walked up the steep hill to the site around noon to enjoy the gardens and the Generalife castle. The gardens were gorgeous, with beautiful roses, orange trees, sculpted shrubbery and fountains. The Generalife castle was used as a summer home and retreat for the Muslim rulers of Al-Andalus, as well as by Spanish kings. We took our time exploring the gardens, admiring the beautiful views and visiting the palace prior to walking across the street for a delightful lunch.

We returned to explore some more prior to our 6:00 entrance time, the last available reservation on our last day in Granada. Again, I remember visiting the Alhambra in 1995 with my children when the Palace was wide open to freely enjoy. Although it was a bit of a disappointment to not be able to spend as much time as we would have liked, the castle still enchants with its carvings, fountains and mystical beauty. We wandered down the steep hill at dusk, quite happy with our final day in Granada.

Next, we take the train to Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia, home to kings and queens. Please join us there!