the alhambra is an oasis...a very busy oasis that requires tickets to be purchased months in advance OR pay triple the price and go with a 3 hour tour group. tickets were sold out when we looked so we went with a tour that had us follow a guy, wear stickers like a cruise excursion and listen through crackly whispers. we ended up in a group with several americans. it was nice to hear american accents again.
it's stunning. the grounds and architecture are really stunning. the stalactites and carvings were a labor of love by the artists. the gardens were meant for reflection. definitely check out the alhambra's website for more history and pictures.
i must admit i found it funny how things get romanticized. like how queens and the harem were privileged to stay in the beautiful buildings. yes, they were definitely privileged...but they were also locked in. or how spain was neutral in WWII. technically, yes, spain did not directly participate. but the dictator allowed hitler to test weapons on spanish civilians, resulting in a well-known massacre thanks to picasso's heart-wrenching depiction.
back to the alhambra...when charles v won it from the moors, he obviously had a bone to pick or something to prove in his enormous alhambra museum.
since our hotel was on the alhambra grounds, we were lucky to enjoy a night view of the alcazaba and alhambra museum overlooking the city. that night air and warm lighting on the buildings is something gladly stuck in memory.
aside from the alhambra, we walked through parts of granada as it was just a 10 min walk down the hill. we enjoyed lunch in the albayzin then a beer in plaza neuva soaking in the sun. we hunted for a wine shop, cheese shop and one last bit of cured ham and a side salad because we just couldn't eat another full meal. jason did really well conversing with the locals to get directions and recommendations. it was actually surprisingly difficult to find the shops! but we're glad we did it and had a little picnic for dinner at the paradores listening to the trickle of a fountain.
side note: the grenadines did NOT invent grenadine the alcohol. shame. that would've been really cool. the french word grenade means pomegranate...which also helped to name the grenade weapon. but i think granada may have gotten it's name from another source, it's all a bit confusing. wikipedia is in contrast to what the tour guide said so i'm just going to stop here.
we were referred to the paradores by a colleague who has stayed at several of the refurbished monasteries/forts/palaces throughout spain. the paradores are owned by the state and while the rates are on the high-end, we found that it was well worth it. -we can rest assured that the funds will go toward maintaining the historic building AND we'll get a spa-like stay. our particular paradores was located in the heart of the alhambra, a moorish palace which then became a franciscan monastery which then became the hotel. it was the original resting place for ferdinand and isabel, the catholic monarchs.
the hotel was very quiet, respecting the history of the place as well as few number of guests. the room was very modern with all the amenities and service was impeccable. there is a small parking lot located in front of the paradores...it was certainly interesting driving through the crowds of people walking to/from and in the alhambra. the hotel is open to the public. stop by, visit the original tomb of ferdinand and isabel, have a cup of tea and listen to the birds.