Saturday, March 29, 2014

3/25/14 Day 68 Granada

We woke up to a beautiful blue sky over our tent, within the olive orchard. Within a few hours we were packed up and trekking back down the gravel path towards Santa Fe so we could catch our bus to Granada. The bus dropped us off in the city just a short 15 minute walk to the apartment of Laura and Marcus, located in the center of the city, the Albayzin. She is from Austria, working as a teacher and he is from New Mexico working on various projects including coin cutting and various of his own inventive crafts. After a relaxing morning getting to know our hosts we ventured out into the cold city of Grenada, even though it is in the South of Spain it is wedged along the Sierra Nevada mountain range and seriously cold in the mornings. Our intention was to get to the ticket office of the Alhambra and buy tickets for the next day, is a 15 minute walk uphill and we were too lazy to ascend the hill an extra time, so here we are at 9:00 hoping that there are tickets available. To our amazement some of the tickets in the 10:30 slot are available. The Alhambra is one of the monuments with the highest number of visitors in all of Spain and people flock from all over the world to see this beautiful mosque, unloading in hordes directly from all of the surrounding cities hours away, driving straight to the top not even stopping to give the city a glance. Well they are certainly proud of their Unesco site charging 14 euros a person to each of the thousands of people who visit everyday. They allow 400 visitors to visit the palaces every hour and even with that volume you have to book weeks ahead in summer and on weekends, luckily for us it is a Tuesday and it is March. Admission to the grounds is either an A.M. slot, until 14:00 or a P.M. slot but for the three palaces you have a specific 1 hour viewing and if you are late you lose your chance. We spend the 90 minutes before our palace time slot wandering through the Alcazaba with its beautiful walls overlooking Granada. 
We follow the class of children and their excessive decibel scream-talking out to the gardens before we can finally get some quiet to enjoy the rest of the 90 minutes left of our tickets. 
After lunch we meet up with Laura and Marcus for a hike up the hills overlooking the city and the entire complex of the Alhambra. A fantastic view followed closely by falafel and an ice cream. Grenada is a beautiful city with amazing outdoor opportunities for hiking, skiing and biking especially. There is a huge influence of Morocco in the entire city with stores filled with spices and harem pants in every pattern. We spent a total of three days wandering the streets of Grenada, enjoying their huge free tapas with beers and spending as much time with Laura and Marcus as possible, they even let Kevin try his hand at coin cutting with their tools, he cut out a Gibraltar 20 pence and it looks pretty good!

Beautiful cut outs in the hammam bath house of the complex

The patterns are so intricate and beautiful 

This lion fountain is amazing, before the Spanish got ahold of it. Originally the fountain mechanism was determined by the hour of day, but it was taken apart to understand and they didn't figure out how the fountain worked, or how to properly put it back together. 
My camera does not do this depth justice, this is some incredible fine detailing. 

Our view from our hike, overlooking some of the cave houses built into the hills that Granada is famous for. 

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