|In late March, Gina's Dad and his wife, Judie, visited Spain for the first time. They started their trip in France where they spent a week in Paris and then jotted over to Normandy for the weekend before flying to Madrid for a week. Unfortunately, Jason and Gina had to work during the weekdays that they were there, but that gave them the chance to tour around Madrid and make day trips to Toledo and Segovia. While in Madrid, they took advantage of the tourist travel bus, “Madrid Vision” where they could see the city by bus and jump off at desired touristy areas, namely: Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real (Royal Palace), and Madrid’s bull ring where they took a tour and even got to try on the cape and sword of a true matador!
That weekend, Gina and Jason were able to take an extended weekend to take Dad and Judie to Granada. After much research, we realized the best way to Granada from Madrid was by car, so on a Friday night we jumped in the car and drove the almost four hours to Jaen (a stopping point to break up the five hour drive to Granada). The main attraction in Jaen is the medieval castle that has been converted to a Parador (Spanish hotel). While it was very dramatic to see lit up at night, we had decided to save a trip to the Parador on our way back. Instead we opted for dinner out on the town and good night sleep before jumping back in the car again.
The next day we were up early and back on the road headed to Granada. In Granada we were lucky to have a hotel that was in the main square of town. This was good and bad in a way. Good, in that we were so close to all the town’s sites. Bad, in that cars are not allowed in the main square, so we had to park in a public parking garage almost a mile away from our hotel and lug our bags all the way to the hotel. When we got to the hotel (a former palace), the trek was well worth it! We were excited to see how close we were to everything.
We started the day with a quick tour of the Cathedral and Royal Chapel that houses the tombs of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand as well as the treasures of the Spanish monarchy. Later that day we visited the old Arab palace and fortress, known as the Alhambra, which was our main reason for traveling to Granada. This is an amazing place to visit. Granada was once a place of peace between the Moors, Jews and various other cultures. It was the Moors who took 500 years to build the Alhambra in the mid-14th century (a Christian palace was later erected in the 16th century). When you walk throughout the grounds, you can’t help but be humbled by the all the meticulous work that went into the construction of the complex. The colorful and detailed tile that you see throughout the place was cut out by hand and carefully put in place to create the intricate Arab designs. And the wooden ceilings where carefully constructed to create a starry affect which points down to the small little visitor peering up at them. It is incredible and a must see for anyone who visits Spain!
On Sunday, we strolled through the old Arab neighborhood, the Albaicin, taking in the architecture and stopping along the way at touristy shops that dotted the pathways. In the afternoon we jumped in a cab for two destinations. The first was Casa-Museo Federico Garcia Lorca. The home of a well-known Spanish writer who was later murdered for his strong ideals. Following this we then visited the impressive Monasterio Cartuja . The chapel will absolutely take your breath away with the gilded design and obvious riches that were needed to construct such a spectacular altar. It is definitely worth seeing (after the Alhambra).
That night, at Gina’s urging, we went to the Mirador de San Nicolas. This is a point at the top of the old Arab quarter that overlooks the Alhambra. Each evening at dusk, many tourists, photographers, musicians and inhabitants of the Albaicin, gather at this meeting spot to watch as the sky gets darker, the lights of the city become brighter, and the Alhambra’s beauty becomes more dramatic. It is a pretty spectacular show to watch. However on a very cold night in March, the show is apparently not that exciting. Jason, Dad and Judie all wanted to find a warmer venue. Luckily a nearby restaurant offered just that. We went inside for a little café con leche to warm up. And the restaurant owners were so kind that they allowed us to go up to their 3rd floor dining room where we could view the lit up Alhambra in a private and warm setting. It was perfect!
The next day we hiked back to our car in the public parking lot and headed back to Jaen where we enjoyed a nice lunch at the Parador. Right outside of the dining room was a large sitting area filled with medieval artifacts from early Spanish times. It was nice to enjoy a small meal here and take in the history of the area.
Once Dad and Judie had seen all the Spanish sites they wanted to see, they took a night train back to Paris to catch their flight home. It was a treat for them to dine in the dinner car and then spend the night roaring on the tracks back to Paris!
Thanks for coming to visit, Dad and Judie! ☺