13 Jun 2017
|June 12-13: Granada
Accommodation: Gar A Nat Boutique Hotel. Boutique hotel is in renovated 1300 building that was part of the Jewish section of Old Town Granada.
Very pleasant three hour bus ride from Seville thru a heavily agriculture valley (olive trees; wheat/straw; sunflowers; grapes). Drove into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and then into Granada.
Yet another amazing evening Segway tour. Perhaps the best one we’ve ever driven. Two hours that started in the center of town and meandered up (and up and up) cobblestone pathways and thru narrow streets giving way to cars and motorcycles to see churches, a mosque, markets, homes built into caves that stay 80 degrees every day of the year in outside temps ranging from 30 to well over 100. Went thru various districts that are home to gypsies, hippies and native Granadians.
The crowning spot was in a square at the top of the mountain where people were gathering to watch the sunset behind the Alahambro—Granada’s fortress and castle. Even had a guitarist and flamenco dancer entertaining the group.
Cold beers at a local tapas bar recommended by Mark the Segway guide. One free tapas with each 3 euro beer. Two rounds of drinks and a huge baked potato per couple. Total bill was 30 euros.
Walked the several blocks back to the Gar A Nat and called it a night.
Entertained by energetic native senorita throughout the “free” (with tip at the end) 2.5 hour walking tour of city center. Saw one of the two oldest still erect and complete mosque pillars in the world (other in Egypt)—can’t recall exact date, but somewhere between 900 and 1300 AD. Wrapped around the pillar is an ancient grape vine. Grapes were grown in what became a market for non-drinking Arabs to sell to Christians.
History Lesson: While it took the Christians under Queen Isabella’s (and King Ferdinand) during the Reconquista a short time to conquer the majority of the Andalucian region, it took 10 years for them to take over ruling Granada because of the fortification of the Alhambra. In the end—1492--Isabella made the right offer and the Taifa (Arabic ruler) agreed to sell the Alhambra and surrounding areas to her. He had only three demands: that his people not be persecuted; that they be allowed to continue to practice as Muslims; and that they not be taxed any more than he had taxed them. Unfortunately, the Jewish population were not so protected and were driven out of the city or forced to convert to Catholicism.
We learned that it was the Arabic Nasdrids—the second Granadian dynasty—that built the region/city into a dynamic economic, technical and cultural power. The Alhambra Citadel was built to defend the city. The Nasrids’ Palace was built within the Alhambra to house the family and governing structure. The gardens are cleverly designed to provide respite from the grueling heat and support sturdy flowers and lily ponds. It is a tribute to engineering and cleverness that water can be brought up thru aqueducts to keep everything alive. And we figure the spring melt of snows from the Sierra Nevada mountains are critical to keeping the surroundin rivers (streams as we saw them) flowing.
The Palace is perhaps the most intricately elegant and delicate structure that we’ve ever seen. Pictures give only a small sense of the craftsmanship. Walls are white plaster (now more often shades of off-white and tan) with only touches of greens and blues seen in the ever present ceramic tiles. Just breathtaking and well worth standing in the once again very hot sun (about 105 degrees) for tickets.
Our walk to the trolley pick up ended up being a walk completely down the Alhambro mountain into center city and a few blocks more to a local al fresco tavern for a cold beer. Not what we planned; but now we can say that we did it.
Felt we had just the right amount of time in Granada. So far would rank towns (to our taste): Cordoba; Granada; Madrid; Seville; Ronda.
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