Granada and the Alhambra Palace

September 11, 2017 - Granada, Spain

It was to be an early start today so we were all a bit slow getting off the mark to meet Rob in the square at 9am. Luckily he found a spot where he could park for a little while without interrupting the flow of traffic on the on-way, single-lane circuit of the town.

Once we were all aboard we drove out to the Autovia and headed for Granada. The new road system, partly financed by money from Brussels, is incredible. The tunnels and bridges make the route much straighter and reduce travel times dramatically. With the number of trucks we saw that is just as well. I can imagine winding along the hillsides behind a truck and not getting any chance to pass would make the journey almost impossible.

There was a bit of traffic because of some roadworks. Comments from everybody, of all different nationalities, about roadworks where there appears to be one person in a fluoro shirt and everyone else is on 'smoko'. We took a comfort stop at a service station just outside of Granada and we all milled around a while to stretch our legs. Although the car had plenty Max needed more fuel and bought two packets with four donuts in each. Although there was much laughter and finger-pointing everybody except Karen accepted one.

The parking area we were directed toward at the Alhambra was pretty full and the narrow spots made it very tight to manoeuvre the van so we went on to Car Park 3 where we claimed two spots at an angle before walking down to the entry area.

Entry is on a timed basis but is also regulated at the entry to the grounds so we needed to show our tickets there. Rob distributed our tickets and made doubly sure that we realised that if we misplaced our ticket it would be very, very difficult to get to all the areas or even to get back to the meeting point that he showed us on the way down toward the Palace buildings.

A quick photo opportunity there before we lined up for our 11.30am time slot. Once the line began to move inside we shuffled along with the crowds. Margaret and I have been to the Alhambra on our previous Photo Tour but the place is just breathtaking in the decoration, the multiple Moorish arches and the revealed views, to the inside as well as to the outside.

Photography inside the buildings is difficult without a tripod (very much prohibited) or even leaning on columns or walls (also verboten) but we battled with ISO ratings and exposure times to try to get photographs we thought revealed our impressions. The reflecting pools are a special favourite of photographers but with so many people shuffling along it is difficult to get photos without people. Better to make them a feature if you can. Rob demonstrated a technique of putting the camera on the edge of the pool, almost at water level to capture almost all reflection.

We then all gathered together for a hurried walk to the top of the Generalife Gardens which was meant to be an area for the Royal Family to relax away from the affairs of Court. Fountains and running water are a special feature of the gardens but there are also formal plantings and most areas look across to the Palace. There were many opportunities to get shots of the Palace framed by flowers or of the way it overlooks the city itself.

We exited the gardens near the top of the Palace grounds where we had entered and then walked down Cuesta de Gomérez, to Plaza de Nueva. Lunch was at a café in the Plaza almost to a person we ordered beers first and thought about our food. Margaret and I ordered Bocadillos of tuna and ham with cheese, and a patatas bravas to share, others ordered anchovies tapas, calamari tapas, octopus tapas or tortilla as well as more patatas bravas. As it turned out the tapas were the size of dinner plates and most were served with chips, including the bocadillos. Way, way, way too much food (and potato especially) so we were well and truly stuffed with lunch at 3.30pm and dinner to look forward to at 7.30 tonight.

We all rolled out across to the taxis that line the street just there and Rob put Margaret and me in one taxi and told the driver to take us to the lookout over the city, Mirador de Los Carvajales. Debbie came with us as she has learned Spanish in the past. Once she said Hola to the driver and gave a few words of Spanish encouragement he launched into an almost unstoppable flow of speech, in the way of taxi drivers everywhere.

Rob and the others, Peter, Sue and Karen came in the following taxi and arrived with us. Here was an opportunity to photograph the Alhambra from the city and show the way it caps the hilltop. This was a brief photo stop then we walked down the hill to flag down taxis after they had dropped other tourists at the lookout.

When the first one appeared Debbie, Margaret and I took that and Rob explained to the driver we wanted to go to the top entrance of the Alhambra, then off we went through little side streets, up the main drag, back into little alleys and finally into sections that we recognised until we were deposited at the appointed place. Debbie paid the fare again with money Rob had given her, collected a receipt and tipped him to receive an outflowing of grateful Spanish from the driver. We then took turns to use the loos while we awaited the arrival of the next taxi … or the one after, the one after, the one after that from which the rest of our group then emerged.

We were all fairly weary on our walk up to the van and Rob realised that the parking voucher was still in the car and he would have to walk back down to have it validated. In the end we drove down and parked somewhat illegally while he dealt with the parking charges.

I think Rob was the only one awake on the way home. I woke as we entered the Torrox Tunnel on the Autovia, just before our exit. Instinct, or just pure chance? We arrived back at 6pm and tried to do a bit of work on our photos from the day before going down to the square for dinner with the artists at La Plaza café. Paco always does a good meal and tonight was no exception with plenty of tapas plates, along with bread and wine. Maybe the food went further because the photographic contingent was already very well fed.

There was apparently a small revolt in the artists camp this afternoon. Apparently their tutor made the mistake of asking Chis (for now to be known as Mr Christian a.k.a. Fletcher Christian) who immediately sowed the seeds of mutiny by suggesting they should give away painting white villages and head down to the beach for oceans and sand and lighthouses. Many of the other artists stood firmly behind Chris's broad shoulders and it looks like Paul may be off scoping out possibilities tomorrow while we take a rest day.

Although it sounds like there is serious discontent in their camp all the artists seem very sanguine, and even jocular, about the painting of the 'Pueblo Blanco' of Andalusia. Several of us stayed to have an extra brandy, wine or Bailey's to finish the night knowing that there was a free day tomorrow and a chance to sleep in.


Pictures

Margaret Day 3 - 1
Margaret Day 3 - 2
Margaret Day 3 - 3
Margaret Day 3 - 4
 
 
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