granada /malaga/cordoba trip

Nov 6th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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granada /malaga/cordoba trip

We have managed to get tickets to the Alahambra this Thursday morning so are doing another one of our last minute trips. This time 2 nights Granada, 2 nights Malaga and 1night Cordoba. I received so much good advice here for my last trip to Seville (which was wonderful!) and wondering if there are any tips for this adventure.

We have restrictions in terms of accommodations (travelling with a dog, a car, four people) so I was unable to book any of the ones recommended on previous posts. For Granada, we have booked an apartment (el almez - on san juan los reyes in albycin) and for Malaga looking at the Ibis on Pasillo Giumbarda. Is that a good choice? For Cordoba the Maestre Hostal on Romero Barras.

I have some Malaga restaurants marked from previous reports/posts from kimhe:
(( El Tapeo de Cervantes, seafood tapas at La Campana in Calle Granada, 35 or traditional Cortijo de Pepe in Plaza la Merced)). For Granada I think we will wander about for tapas. If there is a standout dinner place in walking distance we might splurge but we tend to like casual good food. For Cordoba maybe Taberna Salinas and again, tapas places. Would love to get a good salad somewhere!

We have a 10am time for entry to the Nasrid Palace. From what I can gather we can stay on as long as we like. I could not find anything to contradict this on the official website however an article on Tripadvisor says you only get to stay past 2pm if you enter after 11:30. To be safe we will go early. Also there is now a free mobile phone guided tour - does anyone know if this would replace and/or be better than the audio guide?

Apart from a comprehensive visit to the Alahambra, experiencing the Hammam, strolling the Albaicin neighbourhood, trying tapas, shopping, etc. what would you suggest we visit? My two teens might have Cathedral overload. We will have a total of 2 days. In Malaga we plan to visit the Picasso museum for sure as well as stroll about and if the weather's good walk by the sea.
In Cordoba, I have downloaded the 'what's open when' guide and hope between Sunday and Monday to get to the Mesquita and the Synagogue and then wander about. There is a more expensive evening tour of the Mesquita - anyone done it?

Sorry for so many questions! As always, I really appreciate the help, especially if there is a must-see that I have missed. I will be going through my guide books again but the tips are often more up-to-date and useful.
kpiepen is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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We have a 10am time for entry to the Nasrid Palace. From what I can gather we can stay on as long as we like. I could not find anything to contradict this on the official website however an article on Tripadvisor says you only get to stay past 2pm if you enter after 11:30. >>

not sure how they would enforce that. The system certainly used to be that if you had a morning ticket, you could enter any time after 8am and stay all day. [for this reason, I never understood why people would choose an afternoon ticket]. albeit this was about 5 years ago, our experience was that we had a 10.30 entry for the nasrid palaces, got there at about 8.30 am, and finally left the Generalife gardens at about 3pm.

here's the link to the TA guide to buying tickets.

I couldn't find any reference to people being asked to leave at 11.30 - there wouldn't be enough time to see it all, IME.

anyway, have a great trip!
annhig is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 03:48 PM
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I don't believe that you'll be forced to leave the Alhambra, but things can change, so no promises. Did you also get a reservation for the night? I found it magical then, and was glad that my night visit followed my daytime exploration of it.

> There is a more expensive evening tour of the Mesquita - anyone done it?

I haven't, and, since the most compelling aspects of the Mesquite IMHO are interior, I have trouble imagining that it would be worth the extra money unless one was trying to fit in as much sight-seeing as possible into a single overnight stay. But maybe others have a different view.

kja is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 07:03 PM
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Regarding the Cordoba evening Mezquita visit:

The evening visits are for the interior of the Mezquita, a sound and light show. These started about 2 years ago.
I personally haven't been on this tour but it has received good reviews on TA. I'll probably do this on my trip in March.

I wouldn't do this in place of visiting the Mezquita during the day but perhaps as a supplement for a different experience.
CathyM is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 11:25 PM
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Re: Alhambra and as brief as I can make it.
You may stay in any ticketed area, including the Nasrid irrespective of what time you enter, for as long as you want until the end of the day. If you have a morning ticket you cannot enter any ticketed area beyond 1400 hours.
WomBatt is offline  
Nov 7th, 2012, 02:50 AM
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Regarding eating in Malaga, I would agree that the Tapeo de Cervantes is a good spot. They open for dinner earlier than most, at 7:30pm, and within a few minutes, the miniscule place becomes filled. If you are set on going there, arrive by 7:30 or book ahead. They will take bookings for their 10 or so tables, and the few counter spots, and they do have salads on their menu. Argentine owners, English spoken. Tapas prices in Malaga are very reasonable.

For traditional seafood in a traditional atmosphere, I agree with the recommendation of La Campana. A long menu of fried, boiled and raw seafood. Shrimp tortillita, at 1.40 each, is a good showcase for the legendary fish=frying talents of the Malagueno cooks.

For excellent ice cream in Malaga, Hermanos Roldan. (Prices for ice cream in Malaga seemed to me to be about half what I usually pay in Italy.)

There is currently a Ruta de Tapa promotion by Victoria beer and 25 of Malaga's bars; it will entitle you to a signature tapa of the house and a beer for 2.50. One of the restaurants on the list is Manzanilla Bar, the relatively new establishment under the name of Chef Dani Garcia. The offeringn on the day we were there was ensaladilla with lobster and crab, pictured in the link below. Upscale, sleek spot with some very good dishes. Planningn to open a NYC branch this month.

In Granada, I would sit at the bar and order seafood tapas or raciones at Cunini. And tuck into some great friend fish or seafood at Los Diamantes, where you can expect a crowd.

I wrote about other food expereinces in Granada in this report from 2011:
ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 7th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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WomBatt - that's my understanding too, and it's what we experienced during our visit.
annhig is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 01:05 AM
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Thanks everyone. We visited the Alhambra yesterday. It was so beautiful and inspiring. I especially loved seeing the contrast between the delicate, luminous Islamic art and architecture and the somber, dark Christian additions.

Wow what a lot of work is involved in the visit however. You almost need to take a course in how to visit this site. I had read that the tourguides weren't great and we were very disappointed in the audioguides. There is absolutely no written information in any of the rooms or buildings and you have to hunt around for the numbers to follow for the audioguide. There seems to be little rhyme or reason in the sequence. We had to stop and ask guides where to go and to make sure we were not going to be unable to backtrack and visit the Alcazaba for example. It was a bit stressful.

I felt like there was so much history and information that we were missing out on. Our son likes to take lots of photos and stroll around, reading as he goes, he doesn't like to be tied to an audioguide. I should have bought a book and taken it with us. One more thing to carry!

Having said all that it was definitely worth visiting and we got lucky with the weather as it is pouring rain again today. Also, there were not too many people. We got there at 9am and there were no crowds.

What I would advise:
-get a book about the history and characters of the Alhambra. Guidebooks and audioguides seemed to provide a very dry and architectural overview
-try to bring your own lunch (I was told you weren't allowed, but you are)
-take a bus up and save your energy. You can walk down at the end of the visit.

We are enjoying Granada. Maybe because it's low season we are finding it very charming and interesting. We love the little winding streets and bazaars and are pretending that we are in Morocco. Enjoyed tagines at Arrayanes although the portions were small and it was a bit pricey for lunch. Had a great octopus dinner at La Pulperia - small family restaurant, no tourists. Get their special if you go and share it. Also my son claims Kebab King on Reyes Catolica (plaza Nueva) is the best. We stopped in at Diamantes. Very bustling fun vibe. Lots of deep fried stuff. This seems to be the default free tapa wherever we go. Except for a riverside cafe up on Darro where the tapa was soggy potato chips!

Staying in apartments El Almez. Good location. We have a roof terrace but which is lovely. Apartment is clean and well equipped but quite tiny for four of us. I would not go further up into the Albaicin. I find some of the little alleys a bit dodgy as you go further in. Would not feel comfortable wandering on my own.

Off to Malaga now and then Cordoba.
kpiepen is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 02:25 AM
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Thanks so much for reporting back. Glad you are enjoying, but sorry that the streak of rainy weather persists (we had quite a bit of rain in late October and the first few days of this month, too). Please keep us posted about Malaga and Cordoba.

Do not forget the current Malaga 2.50 beer-and-tapa deal! (see above).
ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 03:16 AM
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We recently stayed at the hotel Maestre in Cordoba. I was simple but correct.

If the weather is nice you might want to try the breakfast at Fusion by Sojo (in the square around the corner from Romero Barras,I think it is Plaza del Potro, down by the river). It was a little more expensive than other places, but the setting is nice and they have scrambled eggs, churros etc:
The Mezquita is within walking distance from the hotel. At the ticket booth they only accept cash (if the lines are long there is a ticket-automat on the left hand side of the ticket booth, also cash only).
For lunch we went to the Bodegas Mezquita (near the Mezquita) where they have a nice selection of tapas and raciones. Me and my kids each had the 1/2 racion of chicken tajin with cous-cous, and were happy with that. My husband had some tapas (I think he only had 2 different - they were pretty generous)Mixed reviews on tripadvisor:
Hope you have a nice stay in Cordoba, we had rain on our days in Sevilla, otherwise a wonderful week in Andalucia!
grendel is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 04:15 AM
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Thanks Grendel.will make sure we have cash. I think our breakfast is included at the Maestre but we'll try to hit Las bodegas.
truly a downpour today in Granada . Wish I'd packed rainboots!
kpiepen is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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We recently stayed at the hotel Maestre in Cordoba. I was simple but correct.>>

sometimes you can't beat a good typo - i'm sure that you were one but not the other, Grendel.
annhig is offline  
Nov 12th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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Thought I'd report back on our trip. Malaga turned out to be delightful despite our first impression from the back rooms of the IBIS hotel - view onto apartments and rundown parking lot. Once we crossed the river the first evening we found a lovely downtown - brightly lit and full of people out strolling in the balmy weather. The streets are paved in pale stone and the buildings are pastel shades with beautiful balconies. So charming! Thanks to those who encouraged us to check out Malaga.

Tried to get into La Campana. When we went by at 7:45 it was closed and we strolled back 15 minutes later it was absolutely packed. Standing room only and we were all too tired for that. Ended up trying one of the tapa/beer specials but despite the poster outside with the E2.50 tapa with beer we ended up receiving 5 beers in a bucket for E3 and a mixed tapas dish for E8. Oh well. Settled for 2 beers and ate all the tapas.

The next day we strolled around passing the cathedral, the castle, the roman theatre, a beautiful park, the Picasso museum and of course all the shops and restaurants in a walk of about 30min! Very easy to get around. Because I had a reluctant 13 year old and a dog in tow I could not go in to all the sites so can't report on them. In the afternoon we drove out to Pedregalejo and had a delicious paella on the seafront. (I think restaurant was Rompero) It was about 25 degrees out and we had been craving sunshine after weeks of rain so we tried not to feel guilty about skipping the Picasso museum. Dinner that evening at El Piyayo (chosen by my daughter because she found the name funny). We had low expectations but it was really quite good. I had ensalada Malagueno and roasted red peppers and gazpacho.

Lots of frozen yoghurt and icecream in Malaga We tried and failed to find Hermanos Rolan. The next day it was in plain sight right on the walk back to the hotel. I think it must have been closed late in the evening. So my husband treated himself to a post breakfast gelato.

Then off to Cordoba. We were booked at the Hostal Maestre but got checked into the roomier, nicer Hotel Maestre. The staff are very friendly and went out of their way to find a room with a bathtub. Breakfast was included for E40 for a triple room with a little sitting room and kitchen. It was very clean if basic.
We strolled about and got to the synagogue which we knew would be closed the next day. Small and striking but with little explanation. The next day we visited the Casa Serafim which did a great job of explaining the synagogue and the life and history of the Sephardic community. Not sure why they can't co-ordinate their schedules.

In the evening I walked out on one of the bridges at sunset. It was stunning. That evening we toured the Alcazar and took part in the Sound and LIght show of the Alcazar garden for about E7 each. I think these evening shows are a way to encourage people to overnight in Cordoba. For us the show was very hokey. There was a slideshow to start and then we all stood around a fountain watching the water spurt up and down for about 10 minutes whilst listening to flamenco music. Then we were moved along. To another fountain to do the same thing. Some people were actually filming this. Hmm. I would have preferred to see the garden in the day as it was not well lit at night. Also there is very little explanation of things inside the Alcazar even though we downloaded their website tour - it barely functioned. It was interesting to climb the tower and see the Arab baths as well as the Roman sarcophagus but the evening show was a bit of a dud.

That night we sought out pasta for my daughter who has not been thriving on Spanish food. She had a huge bowl of creamy carbonara and we had a good wood fired pizza. Sorry can't remember the name but it is in the Juderia - modern pasta place.

Early Monday we visited the Mesquita. Now this would be the reason to overnight. If you go between 8:30 and 10 on Monday (and maybe other days) admission is free but better still there are no tour groups. It was quite and magical inside. I had been looking forward to seeing this mosque for a long time and was not disappointed. It was a bit gloomier than pictures I've seen but I learned that is because they side doors are kept closed now so natural light does not get in. There was a mass in progress while we there and many Muslim visitors were strolling about. It must be very strange for them to see a Catholic mass underway inside a mosque. It was quite bizarre to see the Catholic symbols placed right on top of Islamic ones. But what a beautiful space. Highly recommend it.

I think I have gone on too long. Just wanted to report back. We had a great time visiting these three cities.
kpiepen is offline  
Nov 12th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for the details on the Cordoba evening sound and light show. I think I'll pass on it when I return in March. Many of the churches and cathedrals in Andalucia are built on the sites or have integrated mosques. For example, the Giralda in Sevilla was the old minaret of the mosque.
CathyM is offline  
Nov 12th, 2012, 12:51 PM
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Just to be clear I can't speak to the evening tour of the Mesquita which you had discussed earlier. This was just the gardens of the Alcazar. The Mesquita light show is not on every night in low season, fyi.

I was aware of the habit of building churches on top of mosques (and mosques on top of Roman ruins!) but it is so blatantly done in the Mesquita, and on such a grand scale, it really is astounding. And yet ironically, if the cathedral was not built in the middle of the mosque the mosque would probably have been destroyed during the Inquisition. A very interesting place to visit.
kpiepen is offline  
Nov 12th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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Interstiny, the same thing was done in the Islamic world, churches were converted into mosques. Glad you enjoyed Granada, I fell in love withit and it's a shame so many people only devote a day to the Alhambra.
emily71 is offline  
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