Sunday, September 27, 2009

Granada: I'll Take My Chances

I can barely muster enough energy to give thanks to one of the most gratifying tours I've taken on this entire trip thus far; one that I would be willing to return to visit in the future.

Had I known exactly how fulfilling this tour would be, perhaps I would not have taken such a risk not making reservations prior to stepping foot at the front gates to the Alhambra. Ohhh, I was told both by Rick Steves (my handy guidebook) and by the receptionist who suggested that I call the night before to book a ticket reservation to inform me if any tickets would even be available the next day. According to Steves, should I decide to purchase a ticket the day of, it was recommended that I should find myself standing at the ticket booth line at 7:30 am where they would have an extra 700 tickets out of the 7,800 (the limit of persons that they allow into the Alhambra per day) available for last minute purchase.

Well, I got out of bed at 9:00...

Took my sweet time having breakfast and finally trudged out of the hostel at 10:30 to wait for the bus that would save me from climbing up the hill which I'm sure had I decided to walk and reach the Alhambra, I probably would've convinced myself that I'd done more than my fair share of sightseeing that day and promptly walked back down to take a nap.

How smart of me for taking the bus. I found myself waiting in line with the rest of the last minute ticket purchasers for about 45 minutes, relieved to hear that they had 160 tickets left for the day. I happily chatted with an older woman traveling from Canada who spoke so avidly about her desperation to see the Alhambra and how if she could not see it today, that she MUST extend her stay for another night. I merely shrugged, thinking that if I couldn't see it today, shame on me but my plans to head off to Sevilla tomorrow were practically set it stone and nothing could delay my departure.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I absolutely loved the Alhambra. Simply, it was exquisite. I spent around 3.5 hours here barely sitting down long enough to snap a few photos of myself along the way.

What is the Alhambra, you ask? It is the last and greatest Moorish palace and stronghold, highlighting the splendor of that civilazation in the 13th and 14th centuries; one of Europe's must see sights.

The Alhambra

The Gardens: The entire grounds were well kept and I found myself lost in the maze of tall hedges, square gardens with fountain centers, and flowers of all colors and species surrounding the pathways.

The Palace: Imagine the details in the photos below decorating every space of the walls, corridors, halls, doorways, and ceilings. Such beautiful detailing that it was breath-taking - artwork that must've taken ages to carve. Running water (flowing along the floors!) and fountains were everywhere, what had been a rare and valuable commodity.

Chocolate Festival and a Dried Nuts and Fruits Stand

I got a small bag of dried Pineapples, Kiwis, and Mangoes. YUM!

Wandering through the Plaza's near my hostel, I found it littered with people who were visiting the Chocolate Festival. OF COURSE, I spent quite a bit of time here. Even ordered up a dark chocolate crepe...double YUM!


Tomorrow I am off to Sevilla to spend three nights before I head off to another destination.

Thanks for reading! I can't tell you how incredibly homesick I am but it's probably best that I don't because the less I think about it, the less it hurts. Only 10 nights left before I fly back!

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