Granada and the Alhambra

Trip Start Oct 17, 2007
1
45
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Trip End Feb 04, 2008


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Where I stayed

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Monday, January 21, 2008

For some really odd reason, or lack of, the only thing I really remember about the first time I visited Barcelona is the post office near the waterfront, and Scott vividly remembers Las Ramblas.  Imagine our surprise then when we finally arrived in this strange and amazing city to really discover it.  First of all, the weather was incredible, sunny skies, warm weather, lovely breezes, etc.  The winter jackets came off, yeah!  And I could talk to people!  Language barriers gone, at last!  However, since my Spanish is limited to that of an eight year old, I quickly discovered I didn't remember ridiculous words like "track" (it's "via" by the way, duh), and change room (I forgot the name already, it was weird, I think it was a Spanish from Spain thing).  Also, I was being thrown off track by words they use to refer to common things like "zumo" for juice (I know it as "jugo"), and bocadillo for sandwich (I know it as, well, "sandwich" ha! And bocadillo to me is a guava sweet from Colombia).  Anyway, it was a good lesson in the Spanish language for me, and I even tried sometimes to mimic the accent, es muy dramatico!
Speaking of language lessons, I had NO idea how prominent the Catalan language is in Barcelonan life.  Catalan, from what I understand is a bit of a hybrid of French and Spanish and it is bizarre.  The n's or vowels get dropped at end of words, abbreviations are common and sometimes words appear to be a perfect mix of French and Spanish, for example the word "exit".  In Spanish it's "salida" and in French it's "sorti".  What does it equal in Catalan?  Sortida!  Taa daaa!  It's very cool.
Before I go into where we went, I have to introduce you to some people we met known as:  the-couple-that-really-really-really-needs-to-get-their-own-room; the-rumbling-snorer-that-sounds-like-he's-about-to-choke-to- death; the-obnoxious-and-loud-drunk-British -guy-that-wakes-everyone-up-at-4a.m.-and-brags-about-it. They are also known as our roommates in the Barcelona hostel, the absolute worst people we got stuck with.  Without ado, we checked out the next morning and went to a cheap hotel.
Anyway.  Hostel aside, Barcelona is incredibly interesting and quirky.  One of Europe's best known streets, Las Ramblas is lined with "human" statues, people dressed up as fairies, pirates, trees, the grim reaper, etc.  Every day they are there for hours on end, it's their work and they look amazing.  We wandered the street and the neighbourhoods of La Ribera and Barri Gotic for hours and helped ourselves to some tapas and paella in a couple of restaurants while people and human statue watching.  We also, unfortunately and fortunately developed a bit of a sangria problem, we pretty much felt compelled to help the Spanish economy by drinking some everyday.  One variety we bought in the supermarket, Don Simon, states on the bottle it's the best in the world.  Please, who are we to argue??
Quirky is an understatement when describing Gaudi's influence on Barcelona.  The Sagrada Familia, an insane-looking, exceedingly elaborate cathedral still under construction after 100 years, is a major landmark.  There is also Park Guell, also of Gaudi's design and originally intended as a playground for the rich.  Abstract and psychedelic are the words that come to mind to describe this beautiful park overlooking Barcelona, there really is nothing like it.  It looks like you could eat it, like it's made of gingerbread.
After four easy-going days in Barcelona, it was off to Granada on the overnight train.  Now, when I was 13 years old, I read a historical fiction novel from the school library called "Alhambra", the Moorish palace situated in this city.  I never got over the descriptions and the history of this place and decided back then that one day I would see it.  Guess what???  Done!  A tick on life's "to do" list!  It is everything I imagined it to be.  As would be the recurring theme in Spain, we had balmy, sunny weather, and the Alhambra grounds were phenomenally preserved and magnificent to look at.  Water flows through the entire palace, in fountains, down staircases, along canals...  The Generalife which means the "architect's garden" is a work of art with stone mosaic grounds, fountains, hedges, orange trees and flower beds.  The jaw droppers though were the Alcazar which was the original fortress built within the Alhambra walls and the Palacio Nazaries where the Sultans and then the ruthless Spanish royal family lived.  Mosaics cover every wall, mirror pools reflect the grounds, and courtyards splashed with trees and fountains are visible from the rooms.  The Alhambra is a phenomenal place to visit, the ultimate high in beauty and history.  If seeing the inside of the Alhambra is a lifetime treat, seeing it from the Albayzin, the old Moorish quarter on a hill opposite the Alhambra, is the bonus of two lifetimes.  Amongst its many cobbled and mosaic streets, filled with wine and coffee drinkers and flamenco guitar players, you arrive on a courtyard called the Mirador de San Nicolas overlooking the white-washed city of Granada, and in front of you on the opposite hill is the Alhambra.  It is difficult to describe this sight, except to say that I couldn't believe such a thing could be real.  Accompanied by the sound of a guitar player (just playing for his own enjoyment), we sat on a bench of one of the most beautiful courtyards overlooking one of the most stunning sights in the world.  After all that we have seen on this trip and throughout our life, I can easily state that it is one of my favourite places on the planet, and I found it very difficult to leave.
Once Scott pried me away from there, we headed down to town for dinner.  We found a self-serve restaurant with a lovely waiter that was more than happy to speak Spanish slowly for Scott so he would understand.  You should have seen Scott go!  He understood everything the waiter described and answered in Spanish too.  I was super impressed, and I must admit, I purposely put Scott in situations where he had to use his little bit of Spanish.  He did know what I was up to obviously!  The end result was fantastic though, he did incredibly well in Spanish, muy muy bueno!
Canaussie rating:
Alhambra palace: 5
Alhambra view from the Albayzin: immeasurable!
Don Simon supermarket sangria: 4 baby!
Restaurant sangria: 5
Tapas: 4 (the really yummy one was a tiny baguette one with fancy cheese and quince paste)
Paella: 5, fantastic stuff
La Sagrada Familia cathedral: 5, one of the oddest places you'll ever see
Park Guell: 5
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Comments

jambro
jambro on

Nice!
'love your description of Alhambra and the gardens. Im dreaming of Spain!

indiana on

love Granada. there is a wonderfull place just a meters from Paseo De Los Tristes that i recommend you to stay. Hostels Granada

Granada Hostels Nest on

In your visit to Granada White Nest Hostel offers the best performance in terms of quality and location. White Nest From Hostel can enjoy a pleasant visit in Grenada discovering their best places. Tapas bars, tours, museums, shows and of course the Alhambra are waiting for you. Hostels Granada

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