Limited time in Granada

Mar 24th, 2009, 11:37 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2009
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Limited time in Granada

My husband and I will be in Granada in May, for two nights and less than two days. We'll have a car, and have booked at the Hotel Guadalupe for parking convenience. We'll drive from Nerja on Friday (May 22), probably arriving by 1-2pm. We have the rest of that day, and all of Saturday but we've booked the Alhambra for both morning and evening visits that day. We'll be leaving for Toledo on Sunday morning.

DH suggests that we just be spontaneous (apart from the Alhambra) and I know that flexibility is essential, but I like to have a basic plan for time-management, and then be prepared to modify it on the fly. So I have a few questions, and welcome any suggestions you can offer.

1. Our time for the Nasrid Palace is 8:30am, and I've read somewhere that although they give a 1/2hour window, you must actually be there right at the beginning of your time slot. Is that true? If so, if we're at the ticket office by 8am will that give us time to pick up our tickets and walk to the Nasrid Palace entry point? And is it the same for the evening visit? i.e. must one be at the Nasrid Palace at 10pm, or just at the main gate?

2. We would like to do a walk through the Albaizin (LP has a suggested route, as does Rick Steves, and also Maribel) and enjoy the sunset from Mirador San Nicolas. Yes, I know this will be a tourism gong-show but you gotta do what you gotta do. Sunset will probably be after 8pm in May, so will we have time to start up from Plaza Nueva in the afternoon and hit the Mirador for sunset?

3. Does anyone recommend a patio or restaurant where one can watch the sunset while enjoying a drink or dinner?

4. Is it safe to walk back down from that area to the Plaza Nueva after dark?

5. How much time (and I know this is a stupid question because you could spend days) should we allow to see the main sights around the Plaza Nueva (Cathedral, Capilla Real) and just wander that area?

Thanks for any thoughts and advice.
kcfromcanada is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 11:49 AM
  #2  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Hi KC, I'll try to answer some of your Qs:

1. Our time for the Nasrid Palace is 8:30am, and I've read somewhere that although they give a 1/2hour window, you must actually be there right at the beginning of your time slot. Is that true? If so, if we're at the ticket office by 8am will that give us time to pick up our tickets and walk to the Nasrid Palace entry point? And is it the same for the evening visit? i.e. must one be at the Nasrid Palace at 10pm, or just at the main gate?

I think 8AM would be okay, barring any problems. It's a good walk from the ticket office to the Nasrid Palace entrance. Also, if you want to pick up your audioguide at the entrance, add in another few minutes. Can't help with the evening visit.

2. We would like to do a walk through the Albaizin (LP has a suggested route, as does Rick Steves, and also Maribel) and enjoy the sunset from Mirador San Nicolas. Yes, I know this will be a tourism gong-show but you gotta do what you gotta do. Sunset will probably be after 8pm in May, so will we have time to start up from Plaza Nueva in the afternoon and hit the Mirador for sunset?

It is a really steep hike, just in case you don't already know. It's easier to take the red mini-bus from Plaza Nueva. When I went in Feb (low season), there were quite a few people there for the sunset; so if you need a good spot for photos or whatever, you may want to try to get there 30 minutes earlier to grab the best spot.

4. Is it safe to walk back down from that area to the Plaza Nueva after dark?

I did that last year and thought that was one of the stupidest things I did while traveling. There were very few street lights, and the paths are narrow/winding. I got "lost" soon after except that I knew I had to keep going DOWN. The whole area was very quiet and very few lights from the houses. If someone was hiding in the corner to mug me, it would have been very easy because I just couldn't see far ahead enough and there was no one else around.

5. How much time (and I know this is a stupid question because you could spend days) should we allow to see the main sights around the Plaza Nueva (Cathedral, Capilla Real) and just wander that area?

~ 2-3 hours

Here's a link to the Granada portion of my trip report:
Part I:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-1545404

Part II:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-1545414
yk is offline  
Mar 25th, 2009, 10:01 PM
  #3  
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Thanks yk. I think we'll attempt the steep hike into the Albaizin as it just seems like we'll get a better feel for the neighborhood that way. And we'll try to be at the Mirador in plenty of time to rest our legs, watch the crowds, and grab a good sunset-watching spots. And, of course, to keep a firm grip on our wallets as I've heard that it's high-risk for snatchings.

I knew I had read somewhere about an unpleasant experience walking down through the narrow streets after dark. It was your trip report, which I have now read again for further details and hints. We definitely won't be doing that walk, and will have to find the red mini-bus.Thanks again.

I'd still be keen to find a little bar or restaurant near the Mirador to enjoy a glass of wine while awaiting the sunset, if anyone knows of one.
kcfromcanada is offline  
Mar 25th, 2009, 11:24 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hi

I have bookmarked a restaurant a Fodor's poster recommended that may fit your criteria. Try Restaurant Aben Humeya - http://www.abenhumeya.com/index_en.html.
worldinabag is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 08:45 PM
  #5  
 
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KC - Excellent choice of hotel for parking and location. Hotel Guadalupe is right next to the entrance to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is much larger than most people expect. It is not just a palace – it is more like a small ancient city. For an 8:30 time at the Nasrid Palace, an 8:00 a.m. entrance into the grounds of the Alhambra would normally be fine. But be aware that entrance is not always timely and smooth in the morning (much better at night). I’d show up at the gate a little earlier, especially given that your hotel is so close.

When you enter the gate to the Alhambra grounds you will have a choice of renting an audio-guide phone or hiring an English-speaking guide. I’ve done both. There is no comparison. The phone recording is a little bland and sparse on historical information. It is much better to hire a guide. The Alhambra guides are very entertaining and knowledgeable and can answer any question. A number of guides will approach you as soon as you enter the Alhambra hoping to earn at least 80 Euros. There is no set price for a guide. The fee is always a negotiation. While you are in line, or in the coffee shop at your hotel, you can easily organize a group of at least 10-12 people to share the cost.

Here is a link to an amazing virtual 360 degree walking tour of the Alhambra grounds and the Nasrid palace http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200604/#

I love your comment “tourism gong-show”. That’s a very accurate description of the crowded scene at the Mirador. As an alternative to the gong-show, there is a beautiful, quiet restaurant nearby where you can enjoy a peaceful glass of wine and tapas at sunset. Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas is directly below El Mirador de San Nicolas and offers the same view. There is an outdoor terrace with exceptional views of the Alhambra. http://www.restaurantejuanranas.com/movie2.htm

FYI – the bus lines to the Albaizin and/or your hotel are these:
Line 30 runs between Plaza Nueva and the Alhambra
Line 31 runs between Plaza Nueva and the Albaizin
Line 32 runs between the Alhambra and the Albaizin
Bus information in English is available by phone 900-710-900.

Rather than spending a long time walking up the hill to the top of the Albaizin, I suggest a quick bus ride, #31 or #32 to save precious time. Then you can explore the most interesting areas of the Albaizin at a more leisurely pace - Plaza Larga, Plaza Salvador, fascinating Moorish homes, narrow winding streets and markets, Placeta Aliatar, Lazeta, etc before ending up at the Mirador for sunset.

A higher elevation option for even better sunset views, less crowded than the Mirador, is the Sacromonte hill. The view is more panoramic and from high above - looking down on the Albaizin and the Alhambra. There are some interesting restaurants in the Sacromonte with breathtaking views. The number 34 bus will take you to Sacromonte, however it leaves Plaza Nueva only about once every hour. A quicker option is to take the number 31 bus from Plaza Nueva, get off just before Camino del Sacromonte (the stop is called Peso de la Harina) and then walk about 5-10 minutes (200 meters) up the hill to the main plaza of Sacromonte. It is a very interesting area of gypsy cave-homes, flamenco cave-clubs, flamenco bars and restaurants.

In my opinion, guide-books have been too harsh on the flamenco cave-club scene in the Sacromonte. It is accused of being very touristy. Yes, it is tourist oriented. But, DUH!! Where has even Rick Steves ever been that isn't touristy? Unless you speak very fluent Spanish with a gypsy accent or get an inside tip, or you know a gypsy flamenco performer you are not likely to find the “real thing” anywhere in Spain. (the flamenco "real thing" can be found in Granada if you know how and where to look for it). Although the audience might be 100% tourists, the authentic tradition of flamenco in the caves of Sacromonte can be seen and appreciated. You just have to accept it for what it is; a 3-D museum experience, with living sights and sounds, of what flamenco culture was like before the modern age of tourism.

Two best Sacromonte cave-clubs to experience gypsy culture and art/music are Venta El Gallo http://www.granadainfo.com/gallo/english.htm and La Cueva de Maria la Canastera. Maria La Canastera and her cousin, Carmen Amaya http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMQIv...eature=related
were among Spain’s most famous flamenco dancers. For years, Maria’s cave home has been open to the public as a shrine to her memory. Open Monday to Friday from 4.30 p.m. until 8 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sunday from 12pm until 5pm. http://www.granadainfo.com/canastera/english.htm

Recently Maria’s son, Enrique, has begun offering shows at this famous cave on a rather sporadic schedule. It is best to call him and ask before making any plans. Enrique’s phone number is 958 12 11 83.

In the evening I suggest a tapa-walk in the area behind Plaza Nueva, especially Calle Elvira and Calle Navas. http://www.granadainfo.com/elvirag/index.htm

Granada is one of the few remaining towns in Spain that still embraces the tradition of serving a free tapa with every drink - real tapas, not merely a plate of free peanuts or olives. The tapas get better with every subsequent drink.

You will fall in love with Granada. - Fred
Fredisimo is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 11:25 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Do not miss the marble/alabaster tombs of the Catholic kings in the cathedral. It gives me goosebumps when I stand there and know they and their children are in there.
lincasanova is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 08:49 PM
  #7  
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Sorry for the delay in responding to these helpful comments. Worldinabag, your restaurant suggestion looks lovely. Enjoying a leisurely meal while watching the darkness fall over the Alhambra just sounds wonderful.

Fredisimo, thank you for all this great information. The Saudi Aramco site is a fantastic resource! I listened to the Nasrid Palace tour intently, and hope to share it with DH a couple of times before we go, so we know a little bit what to expect. We'll be sure to arrive a little early so we don't miss our entrance time. As for guides, I will be open to the possibility of getting a small group together on-site, because we've done guided tours before and I agree that they are much more informative than just wandering through. Audioguides can be good but are just not as compelling.

You've made me rethink the Sacromonto thing. I don't know how much time we'll have, and I had pretty much decided against getting out there, but if the timing works, we'll definitely try. ... And as for the tapa-walk, I've made an underlined note about the streets you recommend as that will definitely be part of our plan!

Lincasanova, we'll be sure not to miss the tombs of the kings, and will remember your goosebumps when we see them!
kcfromcanada is offline  

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