At last, I get to Granada

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ August 26th, 2007. Updated on February 22nd, 2010. Published in: Travel blog » Spain.

Travel Journal Overview: 2.5 years previously Granada had eluded me. This time I would not let a chance to visit this beautiful area slip away.

The Alhambra in Granda, Spain

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain (click to enlarge)

My Spanish, sucks, but with my LP at my side and directions on an adopted Madrid family’s print out map, I could have made it to the hotel without speaking a word. But of course I got a little lost, not much. But enough to let me find the tourist information office and get a better map, the hotel was of course across the road.

Granada was full of tourists. But as the 3pm temperature hit 40 degrees, I found myself reveling in the humid-less sunshine. So very different than Africa’s heat.  By day one I had already seen the main sights. The Alhambra being the main attraction, but this is what devastated me. Such a place, and such a tourist supermarket. Car parks, pre-booking, lots of cash, and regulations. I hated it, without even seeing it!

Then as I started the long slow self doubting walk down the hill, I veered off into a forested path. A few couples were ahead of me rushing to an unknown place as the sun started to set. This is always a good clue to find  a place to see. I followed the path to a large series of fort buildings, and yes I will admit it did take me quite a while to figure out it was the Alhambra. But how could I get in for free?? It clicked as I passed some large closed doors, with the sound of running water inside – they were paying to get inside. Outside was still free,  I felt a little better, I was able to see something without joining the tourist race.

Looking inside was not a big thing, after all it was Muslim influenced and I had already visited several impressive Islamic sites in the past. I returned to my air conditioned single room, reduced the temperature some more and headed off to sleep a little more at peace with the world.

After a brief phone call to my good friend in Barcelona I was told a car was being rented to take me on a camping trip up the costa brava, and I had to get there fast. hmmmm, it was Saturday, and I had no intention of rushing up that weekend as I knew what hectic Barcelona night-life was like. Monday would do. Valencia could wait, it wasn’t a big thing, only the lure of the holy grail as recognised by the Vatican.  I then spent the day shopping around for some snack food and headed up to a site across from the Alhambra to watch the sun setting on the magnificent building. Guitars played in the background, people sang, and I jostled for a place to perch for the best photograph of the sunset strewn building. It was a 3.5 hour photo shoot, filled with Serrano, tropical juice and cruncy bread sticks. Mission accomplished, I was happy. I returned to the main town square whereby I stumbled upon an entertaining street comedian which really made my night. One big Pizza later, and it was back to bed.

I slept in as much as possible, it was my last sleep in for a while. I left my baggage with the nice hotel people and headed out. One problem, it was Sunday, and that meant all of Granada was closed minus the touristy places. It was a scorcher of a day. So I decided to make it a reading day as I had seen what I wanted to. I lay like a homeless / derelict dude across a stone seat near an aqua fountain reading about an intrepid adventurer in Afghanistan. Yes I was bored. I ate a big lunch, read some more. And headed back to the hotel to collect my bags and have a drink before heading to the bus station. This is of course the dilemma of traveling.

I arrive to the hotel bar only to meet a very nice Australian guy full of chat and living in Granada as he attempts to solve the meaning of his life. This and the ample bosomed and friendly bar girl made me have faint recollections of one’s last night in an otherwise solitary trip. If only I had been leaving the next day or met them the day before…. 4 beers and one very large cognac later and I was on a bus to Barcelona. With a seat to my self for a least part of the journey. I slept well. after 2.5 years I’d finally seen Granada. Now it was a return to Barcelona …

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