It’s a long way from Valencia to Granada – a bit over five hours on the countryside route I followed. Beautiful views everywhere, fairly easy driving, a delicious lunch at a small restaurant half way, and I got to the hotel in Granada by late afternoon. I took a little wander about in the evening to check out where the Alhambra palace was, then an early night so I could be amongst the first to get in the next day.

Mirror pool at the Alhambra Palace

Mirror pool at the Alhambra Palace

Alhambra Palace

Being second in the queue to get into the Alhambra was a brilliant plan (of course 😉 ) – although I passed through the first two rooms pretty quickly, I was able to spend much of the rest of my tour virtually alone, and free to admire the incredible building without the presence of annoying tourists. To be clear – I’m a tourist, but not an annoying one! Originally built between 800 as a fort, then converted to a palace c.1300, this glorious Moorish pile sits atop a hill with stunning views over the city and surrounding countryside. Inside it is a delightful trip through peaceful courtyards, past tranquil pools, under incredibly decorated archways, all the while hearing birdsong and the gentle sound of water trickling through fountains and runnels. The contrast between the bright and warm open areas, and the cool dim interiors was an utterly peaceful experience, with so many places to take photos – I wish I could have had a free run of the place for hours. Of course, I was keeping ahead of the increasing numbers of morning tourists, so this was not to be, but I still spent a good four hours touring the palace.

Alhambra Palace Alhambra Palace Alhambra Palace

The wording of this entertained me ;)

The wording of this entertained me 😉

Sunset view of the Alhambra Palace

Sunset view of the Alhambra Palace

After the hours wandering the Alhambra, I crossed the valley into the old town – the Albayzin. This maze-like hillside of narrow cobbled lanes was an ideal place to get lost for a while, and when my legs started to complain it was a good place to find a drink. Here I had my first experience of true tapas – a small dish of food served along with a glass of beer. The particular bar I found seemed to escalate the quality of the tapas with the more beers I drank, with the first beer’s plate of crisps, bread and olive oil being followed by a hot meatball dish, then by sardines and squid – I was sorely tempted to stay and drink and see what culinary masterpiece would accompany my eighth beer, but good sense prevailed and I moved on after a mere four. Street performers had been playing music in the square below the bar, and I timed my exit neatly with the arrival of a new (and not very good) group…
The terrace of San Nicolas church, near the highest point of the Albaysin, provides one of the best views of the Alhambra, and is a popular spot to take evening photos. This point clearly wasn’t missed by the local traders as a temporary market seemed to be doing a brisk trade in souvenirs to the throngs chatting and drinking in the square as the sun sets behind the hill. I spent a little time up here to get few photos and have an idle wander past the market stalls, but felt the pain of being alone in the crowd – it was time to move on.

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