(Mostly) Dodging the Rain in Spain

Oct 30th, 2018, 06:37 AM
  #41  
twk
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DAY 13: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18

Today was set aside for our visit to the Alhambra. I booked a daytime visit for this day as soon as tickets went on sale directly from the Alhambra web site, and received a link for PDF tickets, which saved having to pick up tickets here (evidently, that was standard procedure in the past). The ticket gives you access to the ticketed portion of the grounds at any time, except for the Nasrid Palace, which requires a specific time for entry. I had chosen 11:00 for this option.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast was for steady rain to begin around 11:00, so we decided that we would have to see as much as we could before the Nasrid entry time. We walked down to the taxi rank at Plaza Nueva just before 9:00, and had the driver take us up to the Justice Gate. The drive up took close to 20 minutes, which I suspect is longer than usual, as we seemed to run into some kind of unexpected jam shortly into on journey, but we arrived to the Justice Gate in time to go though Charles V's Palace and the original Alcazaba fort before regrouping to get in line for our Nasrid Palace entry time. We did as instructed and got in line about 15 minutes before our entry, and, sure enough, just as forecast, a light rain commenced as we entered the Nasrid Palace.

We spent over half an hour going through the Nasrid, after which we were going to see the Partal Gardens and the Generalife Gardens, but, the rain picked up to the point that it wasn’t really worthwhile doing a garden tour. I felt bad about missing the Generalife, but I just felt like we would have been miserable walking through the gardens in a steady rain, and I also felt that seeing the gardens at the Alcazar in Seville somewhat offset this missed opportunity. At any rate, we decided to head back to the Justice Gate, catch a cab for Plaza Nueva, and find someplace for a long lunch in order to see if the rain would let up (I think we could have gone back to see the Generalife if it had). It didn't, so, after killing as much time as we could with lunch, and having another day to see the other sights in Granada, we decided call it a day. The rain continued unabated until after 7:00, so I think we made the right decision.

As to the photos, I'm sure I'm going to screw these up on the locations, but I'll do my best:



Courtyard of Charles V's palace


The Alcazaba


Courtyard of the Myrtles


The Lions Court
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Oct 30th, 2018, 07:11 AM
  #42  
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Acazaba


Closeup of the Lions
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Oct 30th, 2018, 07:17 AM
  #43  
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Ceiling in the Hall of the Ambassadors


Another view of the Lions court


Stained glass ceiling in what I believe was the Queen's room


One of the rooms off the Lions court


Partal gardens in the rain
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Oct 30th, 2018, 07:49 AM
  #44  
 
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I studied in Spain in 85 and still remember the Alhambra (and Generalife gardens, I am sorry to say) to be one of the most amazing sights I have seen to date. The tilework was exceptioinal too.
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Oct 30th, 2018, 09:02 AM
  #45  
 
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The Alhambra is one of the most amazing sights I have seen, as well. Thank you, twk, for these gorgeous photos. And I am quite sure your locations are correct.
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Oct 30th, 2018, 11:07 AM
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Loved the Generalife gardens. We saw them at that time of the day when the light is golden. Spectacular! I don’t think I would mind seeing them in the rain with a large umbrella and suitable clothing and footwear. Every garden has its moments in all kinds of light. Sunny was the best I’d dare say though.
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Oct 30th, 2018, 02:08 PM
  #47  
twk
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DAY 14: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19

Our final day of sightseeing (Saturday and Sunday being merely travel days) was a light one, by design. The only items on our agenda were the Royal Chapel and Cathedral, along with a look around the surrounding areas, including the old silk market and the Bib Rambla square.

We started with a stop in Plaza Nueva for chocolate and churros that was the best we had on the trip. After that, we headed to the Royal Chapel, the burial place of Ferdinand and Isabella, along with Phillip I (“The Fair) and his wife Juana (“The Mad"). The audio guide described every facet of the place in detail, but with a light agenda, we listened to it all, partly because, like El Escorial and some other major sites, no photography was allowed. Next door at the cathedral, we paid for another audio guide, also rather more detailed than necessary, but at least photography was allowed in this Baroque interior.

Afterwards, we ambled through the rebuilt silk market (remaining parts of the original burnt down in 1850, but a replacement was built at the time in order to capitalize on the burgeoning tourist trade) before arriving at Bib-Rambla square where we had lunch. After lunch, we walked back through Plaza Nueva and along the River Darro to the Plaza de Trieste, before heading back up the hill to our apartments. Following a short rest, I headed back out for the climb up the hill to the Mirador San Nicolas, famous for its view of the Alhambra. While it was impressive, it was not worth the additional climb compared to the view from the rooftop terrace of our apartment, when one considers the crowd, the folks selling trinkets, and the busker playing mediocre rock tune renditions on his electric guitar.



Freshly made churros (or are these porros?) on Plaza Nueva.


Plaza Nueva


Cathedral entrance


Cathedral interior -- two organs, one on each side of the choir


Cathedral ceiling


The silk market


The crowd at the Mirador San Nicolas


View of the Nasrid Palace once I elbowed my way to the front
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Oct 30th, 2018, 02:40 PM
  #48  
 
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Hi twk, can you share the name of the apartment where you stayed in Granada? Thanks!!
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Oct 30th, 2018, 02:52 PM
  #49  
twk
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Originally Posted by gemini21 View Post
Hi twk, can you share the name of the apartment where you stayed in Granada? Thanks!!
Alhambra Apartamentos Turisticos, at the intersection of Calle Zafra and Calle San Juan de los Reyes in the Albacin district.

https://www.apartamentosalhambra.es/en/
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Oct 30th, 2018, 03:10 PM
  #50  
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DAY 15: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20

Due to the ongoing construction project to bring high speed rail to Granada (four years and counting is what the clerk out our lodgings told me), today would be a long day of travel. It was just as well, as the weather in Granada, once again, was rainy and not conducive to sight seeing. Because of the construction, train service from Granada to Madrid consisted of a 75 minute bus ride from Granada to the Antequara Santa Ana station, then a long wait for our train to Madrid. We left Granada just after 12:30 and arrive at the station at 1:45, at which point there was a bit of a scramble for service at the small “cafeteria” (basically, a sandwich shop) that served this station located out in the middle of nowhere (several miles from the hill town of Antequara for which it is named). Then we waited, and waited, for the 5:33 train to Madrid (which was the earliest I was able schedule online--there was an earlier train about 2:30, but I guess the web site wasn't going to let me sign up for that lest the bus ran late). The only thing that broke the monotony was getting run out of the cafeteria when it closed for the day at 3:00. While we were waiting, I had a conversation with a lady from Williamsburg, Virginia, who had been in Spain for 12 days at that point, and had endured rain on 9 of those days, which made me feel pretty good about our experience mostly dodging the rain. Once our train arrived, we had an uneventful trip to Madrid Atocha, where we caught a taxi for the trip to the Hilton at the Madrid airport. This was the best cab ride of the trip, as the driver was a classical music fan, and we were treated to some enjoyable music for a change.

THE FLIGHT HOME: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21

The flight home was pretty uneventful, although I was a little disappointed with one aspect. I had opted for a window seat as I enjoy tracking our progress and seeing the terrain below (when there is something to see, anyway). For our return flight, we had mostly clear skies, which should have been great for a window seat, but with the new high tech windows, I was unable to see as much as I would have liked. I understand dimming the windows when we are over the Atlantic, or during a night flight, but, it was rather galling to have the windows dimmed for the last 3 hours of the flight, as we flew over the southeastern US. The excuse given was that people wanted to sleep, but they were having meal service during this time, so I found that extremely unconvincing. I think it’s probably more a case of people who use electronic devices preferring it to be darker, and/or the crew hoping that the passengers would sleep (and be less demanding)if they kept it dark. I had been advised by one of my law partners to download the mobile passport app for use at customs, and this seemed to save us a good deal of time at DFW. Although we had to walk almost to the end of the customs hall (next to the global entry folks), and only had one window dealing with mobile passport apps, it did seem to speed things up considerably, as there were several hundred folks waiting to use the self service terminals, then stand in line for a customs officer.

EPILOGUE:

I enjoyed the trip, and felt like going to Spain in October was a good decision. I can’t imagine slogging through some of the places we visited with temperatures in the 90s. If we hadn’t been planning to have our third traveller along, and to hook up with her brother in Madrid, I would have allocated less time to Madrid, and might well have started the trip with two nights in Toledo (one for recovery, and the other to see the town). In retrospect, I also would like to have looked for a place a little bit more car friendly in the Marbella vicinity. If I could have found a place like Nerja closer to Marbella, that would have been ideal, but I’m not sure that such a place exists. I thoroughly enjoyed driving in Spain, and if I go back, I’d like to see some more of the smaller towns on a driving trip. Cordoba and Gibraltar as daytrips worked for me, given the time limits we were dealing with, and I was also satisfied with driving part of the route of the pueblos blanco without spending the night in any of them–I saw enough whitewashed tight streets on other parts of our trip, that I didn’t feel that I missed anything by not sleeping in the hill towns–seeing their situation, placed high in the hills for defensive purposes, seemed to me to be the value of traveling this route.

There is so much to see in Spain, and the prices are relatively cheap compared to other parts of Europe, that I would highly recommend a fall or spring trip. I'm not quite so sure that I would think as highly of a summer trip--between the heat and the crowds, the tourist hot spots in Spain just wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable. Climbing the bell tower in Toledo left me winded, but it didn't leave me drenched in sweat since it was a very pleasant 60 something degree day, and, except for the national holiday we experienced in Cordoba, I thought the crows in October were very manageable. While Fall is, I believe, the rainy season in Spain, I will take that trade off every time over sweltering temperatures. If you don't mind crowds, I think a Spring trip, including Semana Santa in Andalusia,
would also be a great time to go.

Thanks to all the Fodor's posters who have posted their trip experience (MaiTaiTom, KarenWoo, and others). It was extremely helpful in planning the trip. I hope that my report will help others with their planning, which, for so many of us, is half the fun.
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Oct 31st, 2018, 10:36 AM
  #51  
 
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Thank you, twk, for such a wonderful report and beautiful photos. I appreciate the effort involved in writing trip reports. I enjoy reading about places I have been because it's interesting to hear what other people's impressions are and if they did different things than us.
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Oct 31st, 2018, 10:39 AM
  #52  
 
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Also want to add that I agree about visiting Spain, especially southern Spain, during the fall and spring. We were in Seville in late September/early October of 2017, and the temps were 90 - 95! I've read that in the summer temps are typically 100 degrees or more. When I was planning our trip, I read some trip reports from people who were in southern Spain during the summer, and they talked about being drenched in sweat after walking for only 10 minutes. And they would have to take breaks from sightseeing to return to their hotel to swim to cool off. Doesn't sound like fun to me.
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Oct 31st, 2018, 01:34 PM
  #53  
 
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We visited various parts of Spain - mostly in October or April
There is no rule as rain is concerned.
Last year we had splendid weather at the end of October ( mostly Madrid)
this year the same at the beginning of October- just befor OP started the trip.

Every time we visited Seville it rained a day or two.
Two years ago I arrived in Madrid the last week in April , had to turn the heath on in the apt.,
a few years ago the same happened in Barcelona.
Mid - May was glorious in San Sebastian, while late Sept was rainy in Santander.
Still , for me preferable to hot summer or early fall weather.
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Oct 31st, 2018, 01:38 PM
  #54  
 
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heat
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Nov 2nd, 2018, 01:05 PM
  #55  
 
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twk, thanks for the great report! Having just visited Spain in Sept. of '18, we especially appreciated your beautiful pix of Madrid and Toledo. Your other photos of locations in Andalucia brought back memories of a trip a few years ago. Really appreciate your writing and your photos!
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Jan 7th, 2019, 08:42 AM
  #56  
 
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twk, just re-read your TR. We agree that there's so much to see in the wonderful country of Spain. We're already planning a return to the north coast, but reading your report has us eager for a return to the south also. I'm just getting into the photo-adding thing. Really enjoyed, again, your beautiful pictures which enhance your report so much. Thanks again for sharing so many details.
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Jan 7th, 2019, 02:29 PM
  #57  
twk
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Glad you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed doing this one more than prior reports with the ability to add photos on the new forum software. I've thought about going back to my old reports and adding some photos, but I haven't been bored enough to do that just yet.
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