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Brian’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011

Location: Granada, Spain

A sweeping overview from Chre:
After all the work Brian has done over the past months organising travel, rooms etc – now the fun is well underway. We plan every day which famous landmark to visit and what will we have to miss out. The Metro system in Paris was a breeze; Barcelona was impossibly crowded with World Youth groups but very easy to get around town; Valencia was a different story. We made some miscalculations due to conflicting information but ended our stay there on a more relaxed mood after seeing Lladro, Fallera and the expanse of sandy beach. After an overnight train trip to Granada, buying the tourist pass, we are taking it easy today and hitting the tourist queues tomorrow. Granada has more of the combined Mediterranean Muslim & Christian influences in the old city. Tickets to enter Alhambra are so popular we were nervous we might miss out, but we managed to get entry for 10.30am. We had to be at the gate at least one hour beforehand we were told – a bit different from walking passed the old Post Office building in Newcastle. Again crowds of people. So far we have been lucky to be helped by English speakers – Brian is practising his Spanish lisp. He has been taking lots of photos, but then so has everybody else.
Saturday 20th August: We slept in but caught the bus in time for our tour of Alhambra and Alcazaba, the Nasrid Palaces. We could begin our tour at 10.30am and finish at 2.30pm. Plenty of time, it seemed. However, we lined up in the queue for the second palace and eventually arrived at the gate at 2.10pm and our tickets had expired. The walk through the gardens and the steps up to the top of the fort took longer than we were allotted – bugger! Nevertheless we are totally impressed by the whole place – the water systems, repaired buildings, the gardens, everything. Tonight we are coming back to see the Flamenco Ballet in the Generalife “Gardens of the Architect”. Small, happy, overcrowded bus, a drink at the restaurant near gate to the show, found our seats in the centre; eleven segments of dance; a mixture of religious, sexist, modern and traditional flamenco ballet with a giant puppet giving (what I suppose was) salvation to Eve. Brian loved the three men and I loved the lot of it. During the show I caught a peanut in my throat, coughing. A man in the row in front of us gave me a bottle of water – very kind. No buses back but heaps of taxis. Cheap at E4.80. Gave taxi driver E2 tip because he understood BD’s Spanish. Nearly 1.30am and 33c – yesterday, it was 44c – impossibly HOT!!! There is a friendlier, more easy-going attitude of the people here compared to the past; obviously lots of tourists here, but not the crowds of Barcelona and Valencia. Maybe we feel more relaxed because of the wonderful rooftop pool.
Novelist Washington Irving wrote about Granada and when I get home I’ll check out the Newcastle library for his books.
Sunday 21 August: Slept in until around 10m, breakfast alfresco up the street. ‘visited the Cathedral and /royal /Chapel where the bodies of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella are entombed; also looked through an art exhibition of Jose Guerro. Dodging beggars and gypsy women “selling” twigs of rosemary, thyme and myrtle, we did a bit of souvenir shopping. Now back at the rooftop pool – heaven. Monday we are doing the Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Our last day in Granada: We used the 24-hour red tourist bus pass to visit what we thought would be some of the highlights of the City that we hadn’t seen, ie the Science Centre, Lorca Museum and the Monasterio de la Cartuja – the Monastery on the hill only to discover the first two were closed on Mondays and the monastery only gave information in Spanish (Engles in shop downstairs). Brian had to pay to use the loo at the monastery, and he was a tad miffed. (so to speak) – like, pay to go into a church AND pay to go to the loo – with cigarette butts, plastic and paper rubbish lying around ignored in the courtyard. As amazing as the interior is, the architecture and gold decoration etc etc etc, there is really only so many churches a person can see and be impressed by – Sagrada Familia (designed by Gaudi) (still being built) in Barcelona is the zenith. We had a time limit to catch bus 35 to Sacromonte (only 3 daily), so after a quick lunch alfresco of salad and pizza in the cathedral square, we caught the last “round bus trip” – what a ride, what a view – why didn’t we do this yesterday??? Up the mountain in winding, dangerously narrow cobbled streets, the buildings, the views downhill were breathtaking. We were stopped by roadworkers at a sharp corner and spent some time turning safely then travelled back to town. We thought we would have loved to spend more time here – up in the mountains in this village. Maybe next time?????
Tomorrow, the train to Seville