Spain: Take Two

Old Nov 26th, 2022, 11:09 AM
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I find Seville very much more approachable than Barcelona
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 11:23 AM
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Oct 27 –

The Seville Cathedral was high on Donna’s list, and our Air BNB host had told us we needed to book tickets in advance, so once Donna came to life we booked tickets online for the soonest available at 12:25 that day (€11 for me, €6 for Donna, who had to show her passport upon entry for proof of age).

We also booked a flamenco and guitar concert – a must do on my list - for 8:30 pm at La Casa Del Flamenco in the Santa Cruz neighborhood, a small venue that I’d run across during my research that is known for focusing on the music and dance, using natural acoustics (tablao, 20 euro each).

We heated the chocolate pastry we’d picked up at Panypiu bakery the previous night after dinner, surprised that it was open so late in the evening – which brought many oohs and ahhs from Donna; we’d be seeing it again soon, 2 each.

Galería de productos de pastelería - Panadería y repostería Pan y Più

While Donna got ready I left the apartment in search of the cathedral, trying to get my bearings in our very confusing neighborhood. It took me two attempts, but I located the cathedral, which was only about 10-12 minutes away.

Getting there involved winding through a labyrinth of narrow streets with ever changing names. Most of which were the width of a small car, and had 8-12 inch cobbled “walkways” on one or both sides for pedestrians. Walking through these streets was taking one’s life into their own hands, as they were surprisingly busy with traffic.

One would think you could see the world’s third largest church in the distance, but walking alongside the high walls of the buildings that backed the streets was like walking through a tunnel.

Of course, I had to take photos enroute…partly because I couldn’t resist, partly because I thought they might help me find my way back.


Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

I eventually collected Donna and we walked to the cathedral. We were early, so we poked around the exterior and the square.

WOW. These socks were completely knocked off.

The official name of the Seville Cathedral is Catedral de Santa María de la Sede. It’s said to have an internal area of 11,520 square meters and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s also the final resting place of Christopher Columbus.


Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Horse drawn carriages in front of cathedral

Entry into the church was very organized. For those who’d booked online, a placard showing entry times in 10 minute increments indicated who was being let into the church. Those without tickets had to queue at another location.


Queue for online ticket holders

I headed directly to the Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral, the tallest structure in Seville at almost 100 meters. The tower is accessed via 34 floors of ramps, which were designed to be wide enough for a horse to maneuver through, so the Mosque’s Imam could comfortably make it to the top for the call to prayer. Donna took a pass.


Views from Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral

Views from Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral

The church was awesome. So much nicer than Barcelona Cathedral. We spent several hours here.


Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

After the cathedral we had an excellent lunch at Mamarracha, which had good air conditioning and an interesting menu. It was also quiet, unlike some of the surrounding restaurants. A very good Burrata salad for me, Iberian Pluma pork for Donna, which she raved about. We also shared a small order of fries, a bottle of water and we both had a cocktail…or two (€50.40, inclusive of €1.50 each bread charge).


Burrata salad, Mamarracha

Complimentary after lunch sherry, Mamarracha

Our ticket to the Seville Cathedral and the tower also included a visit to Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior), which turned out to be another spectacular cathedral.


Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior)

Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior)

Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior)

Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior)

Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior)

Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Divine Savior)

Then it was back to the apartment to chill before our flamenco concert.

Because we’d found the streets of Seville so confusing, Donna had taken screenshots of the route from her iPad and transferred to her phone. We weren't optimistic that we’d find the flamenco venue given the labyrinth of narrow streets and had given ourselves extra time just in case we needed to hail a last minute taxi, but surprisingly we found it.

The concert was excellent. We’d arrived early enough to score two of the last three seats in the front row, putting us literally two feet from the stage, well within range of the flying perspiration. I really, really enjoyed this.

It was interesting to watch the expressions of the two dancers, the female, all angst and pain, the male jovial and fun. I have no doubt that being able to understand the lyrics would have greatly added to the experience.

I’ve since read these descriptions of flamenco, which pretty much sums up what we saw:

Flamenco is always sorrow; love is also sorrow. At the end, everything is sorrow and joy,” Camarón de la Isla.

“An extract of poison and fire, this is flamenco,” Antonio Gades.

“Flamenco is the means through which man reaches God without the intervention or saints or angels,” Luis Antonio de Vega.

“Deep Song… is truly deep, deeper than all the wells and oceans of the world. It comes from the first sob and the first kiss,” Federico Garcia Lorca.


Performers, La Casa Del Flamenco

After a detour for ice cream – (goat cheese with tomato jam anyone?), and a few more photos, we called it a night.


Narrow streets of Seville

Seville after dark

Seville

Seville

It’d been a very full day - and plenty warm 32c (90F).

To be continued...

Last edited by Melnq8; Nov 26th, 2022 at 11:30 AM.
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 11:29 AM
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Yes, Mel you're right. Barceloneta. Not much of a beach but at least we could say we'd been. I thought that the Fork worked well as you could search around the area you were in, and once you had found one you liked it would tell you how to get there. As for ordinary directions, I find the map app which is already on my phone better than Google maps, though in Dusseldorf it sent me all round the houses from the station to my hotel when it turned out that it was directly opposite the other exit had I turned the other way after I got off the train. So that rather undermined my confidence in it. Previously in Italy and France it had worked perfectly.
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 11:35 AM
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Me too Bilbo.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 07:41 AM
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Oct 28 –

Before heading out for the day we booked Las Setas for 7:15 pm this evening (12 each). So far it’d been hot in Seville; although it felt considerably less humid than Barcelona, at least to me.

We took a taxi to Plaza de España, which turned out to be a lot closer to the apartment than we thought (€3.85). The day was beautiful and clear, the morning temperature almost cool.

Plaza de España is situated adjacent to the Parque de María Luisa and has been described as the Spanish Steps of Seville and an homage to Spain itself. It is considered one of the city’s most beautiful and iconic landmarks.

What a beautiful place!

We spent several hours exploring the grounds and taking countless photos. There were quite a few people here, but it's so wide and spacious that it never felt crowded. I couldn’t get enough of the tile and mosaic.


Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Plaza de España


Plaza de España


Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Plaza de España

We were even treated to a flamingo performance on the balcony overlooking the Plaza. Thoroughly enjoyable.


Plaza de España

We then explored a bit of the Parque de María Luisa, admiring its massive trees and watching the many horse-drawn carriages as they passed.


Parque de María Luisa

Parque de María Luisa

Of course that cool didn’t last, it was soon 30c (86F).

I talked Donna into walking back, and she did a fantastic job of navigating using a new map app she’d accidently found. Seems our Google Map blues were behind us (maybe). We both bought some scarves from a street vendor as we retraced the path the taxi had come.

We perused the menus of several cafes across the street from the Tobacco Factory, finally settling on Taberna la Autentica San Fernando, which proved nothing special, but it did the trick – a hamburger, fries and Coke Zero for Donna, cheese bread and sangria for me (14.50).

After a few hours rest in the apartment, we walked over to Las Setas, which we were able to find with Donna's newfangled map program; turns out it was only 10 minutes from the apartment.

Las Setas, aka the Metropol Parasol, aka the Mushrooms of the Incarnation, is the largest wooden structure in the world; the winning project in the competition held by the Seville city council to renovate the square in which it's located. Built for an estimated 86 million, it’s currently one of Seville’s most visited monuments, and attracts more visitors than the Seville Cathedral.


Las Setas

We’d timed our tickets as close to sundown as we could, hoping to see the sunset and then stay on for the light show (Aurora).

Of course, everyone else in Seville had the same idea.

We arrived at Las Setas around 7:00 and got in line for our 7:15 entry. Buying tickets online was a good choice, because we were routed to a much shorter line.

We took the elevator and then walked up to the Mirador to watch the sunset with thousands of our closest friends; some of them rather pushy and insistent. It was both amusing and annoying to watch young people (mostly women) flip their hair, jut out their hips and pucker their lips, posing for photo after photo after photo……while clogging the walkway for us mere mortals.


View from walkway of Las Setas

Atop Las Setas

Atop Las Setas

Atop Las Setas

We watched what we could see of the sunset…the view point choked with people...and then watched as the lights came on. I thought it interesting that the church lights came on before any others. The Las Setas light show started about 8:00 pm, complete with music. It was enjoyable, despite the pushy self-absorbed amongst us.


Sunset from Las Setas

Sunset views from atop Las Setas

Light show, Las Setas

Light show, Las Setas

We eventually had enough and followed the walkways back towards the gift shop.

The elevator was behind a barrier; they were funneling people down the stairs, which made sense, given the number of people who were leaving simultaneously. Donna isn’t a fan of stairs, especially poorly lit ones, so we snuck behind the barrier so she could take the elevator down.

We were interested in seeing the Mercado de la Encarnacion that we’d read about, so once on the basement floor, we walked back up a couple of flights of stairs; you’re not able to do this coming down because the elevator doesn’t stop at the higher floors.

The market wasn't quite what we expected; either it was fully closed or we were in the wrong place. So, I went up another flight of stairs to see what was going on up there and found a lot of young people dancing, playing music and picnicking on the open first level.

We also thought there were restaurants within Las Setas, but we never found any. Either we missed them, or they’re the restaurants that surround the monument on the square below.

I then went back downstairs to meet up with Donna and we wandered around a little bit trying to find a place to eat.


Las Setas from below

Las Setas from below

Las Setas from below

Las Setas from below

The immediate area was packed and most of the restaurants seemed to be booked (Saturday night). We wandered for a while and finally ended up at a little coffee shop - Panther Juice and Sandwich Market, where we each had a bikini (which I’ve just now discovered are so named afterthe Bikini Concert Hall in Barcelona, where vendors have been selling pressed ham and cheese sandwiches to late-night revelers and concert-goers for years) and a beverage (€14.30)

We also picked up 10 mini croissants covered in various toppings to take with us (Panteritas – 10 for €5), which would serve as our too sweet breakfast for the next two days.


Sugar overload, Panteritas

Then we walked back to the apartment assisted by Donna's new map program. I was amazed at how many people were out having dinner at 10:00 pm. Most businesses were still open – even bakeries.

Seville looks so different at night than during the day. That, and being logistically challenged (that would be me) is partly why we’d had so much trouble getting our bearings; many businesses were completely hidden behind graffitied shutters when we walked by in the morning, but were alive and busy at night.

To be continued...

Last edited by Melnq8; Nov 27th, 2022 at 07:59 AM.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 09:24 AM
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<<Then we walked back to the apartment assisted by Donna's new map program. I was amazed at how many people were out having dinner at 10:00 pm. Most businesses were still open – even bakeries. >>

I once read a book by a young Brit who went to work for Vogue in Madrid - despite his youth the hours they kept played havoc with his digestion. They often wouldn't go out for dinner until past midnight!

Thanks for the lovely photos of Plaza D'Espagna - we too found it relatively empty, even in September. Las Setas was a completely new thing for me but then I realised that our trip to Seville was probably a year or so before it was built so your photos and description of it were very interesting.

looking forward to more!

Last edited by annhig; Nov 27th, 2022 at 09:27 AM.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 12:48 PM
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Lovely photos.
I was supposed to go to Spain for my 50th, but I’d be lucky to get there for my 60th, lol.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 02:31 PM
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Love this thread. Your photos are brilliant. Thanks for sharing.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 06:17 AM
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Thanks for reading annhig, Adelaidean and Treesa!
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 06:31 AM
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Oct 29 -

Our last full day in Seville. We briefly considered going to the Real Alcazar, which we’d not planned to do initially so we hadn’t booked in advance. The only available online tickets for today were at 3:30 and they close at 5:30. As we mulled over whether we’d need more than two hours, the 3:30 slot disappeared and the only available was now 4:30. That didn’t seem sufficient; we figured we didn't have a chance in hell of getting a ticket on a walk-in basis so we decided to go to Triana instead.

All we knew about Triana is that it’s on the west bank of the Guadalquivir River and home to Mercado de Triana and Castillo de San Jorge.

We walked to a busy street near the apartment and hailed a taxi (€6) and were deposited on the Triana side of the Isabel II Bridge and at the foot of Castillo de San Jorge.


Castillo de San Jorge

Guadalquivir River

Unable to pass up a tower, I paid €1.50 and climbed the narrow winding staircase of Castillo de San Jorge while Donna waited below. There wasn’t much to it, and it’s definitely a one-person-at-a-time staircase, seriously squeezy.


Castillo de San Jorge tower

We then explored the Mercado de Triana, which wasn’t yet busy on this Saturday morning; we poked around, admired the wonderful looking produce and interesting protein (rabbit anyone?) and decided to return later in the day to buy a few items.


Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana

Then we wandered, exploring a few ceramic shops (Triana is known for its ceramics and ceramic tiles) and making a few small purchases, having to reign ourselves in given our limited luggage space.

We decided to check out the Centro Ceramica Triana, a small ceramics museum situated in the old Ceramica Santa Ana factory (€2.10 for me,€1.60 for Donna). The guy at the entrance wanted us to pay with credit card, but we finally scared up enough coins between the two of us to pay the entry fee, plus some, as he seemed to be even more mathematically challenged than I am.

The museum was very small and only mildly interesting (to me anyway).


Triana ceramic shop

Triana ceramics

Triana

We returned to the Mercado to seek out lunch, but the place was absolutely heaving now, most tables filled. We asked a few vendors what time they closed, hoping to pop in again before leaving Triana.

We then sought out lunch elsewhere, randomly choosing La Comidilla Triana, where we settled in at an outdoor table and were completely ignored; the wait staff more intent on rolling flatware in napkins than taking our order.

What started out as a semi-quiet corner location soon turned hectic. Suddenly we were surrounded by kids in Halloween costumes passing between us and the restaurant. And then, simultaneously, a tour group appeared, and stood near our table while their leader chatted about whatever she was chatting about.

We also witnessed some sort of altercation between the driver of a car and a pedestrian. We didn’t see the actual incident, just the gesturing and shouting aftermath.


Lunch venue

Our order was eventually taken; we sipped an excellent sangria and dined on an interesting assortment of tapas – while sitting at what felt like a chaotic intersection.

Donna tried the tortilla - a potato, egg and onion open faced omelette (there seems to be a big debate on whether or not tortillas should contain onion, she votes yes). She also had shrimp and cream cheese wrapped in phyllo dough. I had an unusual, but tasty, chicken fajita and sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar; we shared goat cheese with tomato jam and crackers, but I wasn’t a fan of this particular goat cheese (€30.80, inclusive of the now familiar pan/bread charge).

The restaurant was now busy; more and more people showed up trying to find a table but there was nowhere for them to go. The wait staff feverishly moved tables around in an attempt to accommodate everyone.


Chicken fajita

After lunch we wandered alongside the river and sought out a venue with river views for more sangria, finally settling on Norina La Caseta (€12). Triana was now crazy busy.


Triana

Triana

Triana

Sangria break, Triana

We made a mad dash back to the Mercado before the shops we wanted to visit closed at 4:30; only a few places remained open with people lingering over lunch. What a difference a few hours makes.

We eventually walked back across the bridge, now teeming with people. A couple in wedding attire stood staring out over the river as strangers stopped to take their photos (me included).


Triana

We then caught a taxi back to the apartment (€8). I thought it felt cooler today, but later learned it hit 32c (89F).

To be continued...
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 07:39 AM
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How many nights did you spend in Seville? It’s one of my favorite cities, so beautiful ! I love all of your photos especially Plaza de Espagna. I remember having gin tonics at Parque Maria Louisa. Somehow we missed Las Setas. But we absolutely loved the Real Alcazar. It’s second to the Alhambra, IMO. Where is your next stop?

We also really liked exploring Triana and the Mercado. I remember having conch shells, which I didn’t care for but my husband loved.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:38 AM
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we were in Seville one spring when it rained, very hard, those narrow lanes and relatively poor drainage meant that we were engulfed in a 2 foot wave of semi-clean rain water, still I like your photos. We also visited in Autumn when the marmalade oranges on the street fruit trees became a serious danger. Did you get to Cordoba and see the Noria (Molino de la Albolafia)?
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:53 AM
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Great TR, and lovely photos. The Mercado is definitely on my list for our next trip, I looove markets of any kind.

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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:59 AM
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Hi Mel,
Really enjoying your narrative and your photos as usual.
Although Barcelona didn't quite hit the mark for you (and it's become incredibly busy), I'm really happy that Sevilla did sing to you (kind of thought that it might ).

The one thing that I've been noticing in the heavily tourist areas that I never, ever, ever noticed before, is the note in English at the bottom of the receipts.
In my case at Malaga's Tapeo de Cervantes (which made my blood boil--grrr) it was the "service/tips not included" note in English. Or in your case, suggesting a tip of €5, €10 or €15, which I also find not only off-putting but a bit infuriating. That is a recent annoyance that luckily one only finds in heavily touristed zones. There is no American style tip culture in Spain, and service is certainly included.

My friend Shawn (Azahar Seville) has been fighting that bread charge issue there ever since it was introduced several years ago, but it's been a losing battle. It's now customary not only in Seville but in Madrid as well---the extra per person charge for the "cubierto". At our favorite gastro bar in Madrid, La Catapa, they do ask if we want the bread, and it's fine to decline it.


I think that the performance that Donna witnessed in front of the cathedral could have been the 11 am dancing of the sardana, the Catalonian national dance, a symbol of Catalan unity and pride.

Glad you enjoyed the flamenco performance at the Casa del Flamenco in the Barrio de Santa Cruz. I love these intimate, small venues that don't serve food and drink but instead focus completely on the performers, which makes it a more intense and authentic experience.

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 03:35 PM
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Karen - We spent four nights in Seville. Next stop...from the comfort of my home office...Granada

Bilbo - Nope, didn't make it to Cordoba. Too much to see and do in Seville.

Maribel - Not sure what was going on at the cathedral - didn't see any dancing, just a lot of talk and passing the hat.

About that tipping - saw a tip jar in my local UPS store today. Really?
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 01:39 AM
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We spent 4 nights in Seville, too, and I wish we had a 5th night. We spent 2 nights each in Granada and Cordoba, and I wish we had an extra night in each city. Never enough time!
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 06:47 AM
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I'm enjoying your report and photos. We visited Seville for the first time earlier this year (March) and loved it. Our apartment was about a block north of the Panther Market you visited, and we, too, had a box of panteritas.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 07:43 AM
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Oct 30 –

The time had changed overnight, so we got an extra hour of sleep, before tidying up the apartment, packing up and walking to the corner to catch a taxi, arriving just as one was passing; perfect timing.

The taxi dropped us off at Plaza de Armas (€6), the Seville bus station, where we had a booking for the 11 am Alsa bus to Granada (€19.80 each). We’d allowed plenty of time; Donna sat with the luggage in the waiting area while I went downstairs to the bus stands to check things out.

The restroom in the bus station was pretty dire, no toilet seat (not the first or last time this trip), no toilet paper, no paper towels, not at all clean.

We went downstairs and queued near our bus (bus stand assignments show up on the display in the waiting area an hour before departure) and watched as our driver fiddled with the controls, made a few trips to the engine in the back, then return to the driver’s seat to fiddle some more; clearly something was broken. He eventually sent for backup, to no avail.

Eventually, the bus driver began checking tickets and indicated that we should put our luggage underneath a different bus. Others followed and soon the bus had more passengers than seats. We finally pulled out of the station 22 minutes late.

The first 90 minutes of the three hour journey took us through a flat landscape with row after row of olive trees and another bushy tree I didn’t recognize.

Our surroundings gradually became hilly and we could see what might have been white villages appear in the distance.

I watched the temperature display increase from 22c to 24c. We passed an area of hills and red cliffs, and then the olive trees were back, as far as the eyes could see. Note to self, eat more olives.

The journey was comfortable, our co-passengers quiet.

We arrived at the Granada bus station about 2:30 and took a taxi to our apartment (€7). Seconds after arriving, as we looked around trying to get our bearings, I heard a female voice from above calling my name…our Air BNB host was waving from a window right above us and motioned us to the back of the building where she met us at the door.

It took quite some time to extricate ourselves from our overzealous and talkative, but sweet-as-can-be Ukrainian host; she offered us a half million suggestions for our two day stay in Granada, most of which neither of our tired brains absorbed. We finally managed to break away after I told her I needed to find some food before I fell down.

While centrally located near the Granada Cathedral (Cathedral of the Incarnation) the apartment looked better online than in person. It was nice enough, but the beds were small and uncomfortable, and while described as ‘on a quiet pedestrian street’, it was anything but. Noise from passing pedestrians late into the night would prove problematic, (for me anyway, Donna can sleep through an earthquake).

However, the location had a surprising perk – read on. And we certainly couldn’t complain about the price - $418.39 for three nights, two bedrooms, 1-1/2 bathrooms.

The weather in Granada was glorious, for the first time in a week we didn’t need air conditioning.

Once settled, we walked towards the cathedral, and found ourselves in Plaza Bib Rambla, with its assortment of bars and restaurants…and loads of people.

We wandered around looking at menus and finally settled on an Italian restaurant on the square (Ristorante Gallio), suspecting that it was probably going to disappoint given its tourist heavy location - but not having the energy to find something better - and unfortunately, it did.

We both had forgettable pasta, accompanied with a glass of sangria for Donna and a glass of red for me, mineral water for both (33.60), service was lackluster and disinterested.

More than a week in Spain and we still hadn’t had churros, so we rectified that the minute we spotted Cafeteria Churreria Alhambra across the square. I made the mistake of asking for two orders, not realizing how massive they were. Donna chose café con leche, and I – no surprise here - chose chocolate, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t finish either the chocolate or the churros (€9.90 total).


Cafeteria Churreria Alhambra

Cafeteria Churreria Alhambra

We wandered around aimlessly for a while, stumbling upon some interesting candy shops – surprised at how many of them there were – including the French nougat place we’d found in Barcelona – and a place called Captain Candy that sold some interesting candy in bulk – we purchased some of the gold and silver covered sugar almonds for when the chocolate/churro coma passed - and then sought out the grocery store to pick up a few provisions.


Captain Candy

Captain Candy

Captain Candy

Wandering

Wandering

Back in late August I’d booked tickets for Alhambra and Generalife, with a timed entry into the Nasrid Palaces for the following day at 8:30 am (€14 each). The UNESCO listed Alhambra is considered “the crown jewel of Granada” and sits atop a hill overlooking the city. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in Granada and Andalusia.

Our Air BNB host had suggested we walk up to Alhambra, telling us it would only take about 30 minutes, but she's a lot younger and more energetic than we are (emphasis on energetic). Donna wasn’t interested in walking, neither of us felt like sorting out the bus, and we had to get a pretty early start, so we opted to book a taxi, which our host graciously arranged for us, but only after telling us she thought we’d booked tickets too early in the day (everything I’d read suggested we do exactly that and nothing could be done about it anyway). Alhambra is hugely popular, and its website suggests those with timed tickets arrive an hour early - so we were in for an early morning.

To be continued...

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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 11:49 AM
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Oct 31 -

Our pre-arranged taxi turned up right on time at 7:30 am (€15) and took us up the many winding hills to Alhambra. I asked the driver to drop us off at the Gate of Justice, as I’d read this is where we needed to go if we had online tickets for the palaces. He responded by pointing down the hill we’d just driven up and left us at what turned out to be the main entrance.

People were already in line at the main entrance at 7:40 am (the complex opens at 8:30 am). No idea if they had tickets, but when we looked at the website last night, there were no tickets available until November 2nd.

We started walking in the direction the taxi driver had indicated, and stopped to ask a security guard if we were indeed supposed to go that direction. She asked if we had our passports with us (required with online tickets) and explained that we should indeed head down the hill to another entrance. So we did.

Then it got really confusing. Signage was poor; another security guard was opening a gate and although he assured us it was the Gate of Justice and told us to follow him, it led to nowhere, so we backtracked, not realizing at the time that we were already within the walls.

We watched other people to see where they were going and followed them as they began to queue at the opposite end of the Gate of Justice; but a woman who worked there said something in Spanish and they all left.

We eventually found yet another woman who spoke very good English, and she assured us that we were in the right place, but said that people usually didn’t get in the queue until five minutes before their timed entry.

By now we figured that extra hour they suggested was so you could figure out where the hell you were supposed to go.

The Alhambra covers some 26 acres, and has more than a mile of walls and 30 towers. Perhaps it was just us, but a few more signs probably wouldn’t go amiss for the three million people who visit this World Heritage listed site each year.

After a frustrating start, our tickets were checked. Then a short time later, another person scanned our QR codes and looked at our passports and we were let loose in the Nasrid palaces.

I loved the textures and intricate carvings, the occasional splashes of blue and the elaborate detail. Donna said “she loved the historical aspect” but that it just “wasn’t her favorite type of architecture”.


Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces


Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

That early start paid off - it was quiet at first - but soon became very busy, and was borderline heaving by the time we left several hours later.

We spent about 90 minutes in the palaces, and then wandered a bit before heading down to the Generalife, which was initially quiet, as we were able to access it from opposite the main entrance. We both thoroughly enjoyed the orchards and gardens, and I was surprised at how extensive they are.


Alhambra

Alhambra

Ahambra

Alhambra

Alhambra

There was a human bottleneck at the Generalife Palace; Donna took one look at the stairs and said no, she wasn’t going in. So I forged on alone, soon in a cramped space with too many people, and several tour groups that were clogging things up. It was impossible to return the way I’d come, so I wandered up and down myriad stairs, through different areas, eventually breaking free and ending up outside. I called Donna and told her I couldn’t come back to where she was, and we agreed to meet elsewhere.

We’d been there for three hours and although we’d barely scratched the surface of this massive place, we decided to call it good.

We considered eating on the premises (and in retrospect probably should have) but our Air BNB host had suggested we head down to Realejo – the old Jewish Quarter, and seek out lunch at one of the many restaurants around the Campo de Principe.

So we headed downhill, ending up near the Alhambra Palace Hotel (discovering after-the-fact that our host had also suggested we get a coffee there to take in the views, oops). We then walked down into Realejo via several flights of stairs.


Stairs to Realejo

Unable to find Campo de Principe, and discovering that most restaurants were closed, we popped into the first open one we found, an unassuming little bar-like place, hoping to regroup over a glass of sangria. Somehow, our order for a glass each had been understood as a pitcher – oh well, it was good and disappeared (€12). We also ordered las patatas fritas, but they never materialized.

We then wandered around some more and finally found the restaurants surrounding Campo de Principe, but nothing on the menus sounded appealing; evidently our tastes and the tastes of our Air BNB host didn’t align.

So, we moved on, eventually stumbling on a shawarma shop where we ordered a falafel and a shawarma which were consumed on a bench outside the hotter-than-hell shop, while we watched the world go by (€10).


Wandering through Realejo

Wandering through Realejo

Wandering through Realejo

Wandering through Realejo

Suddenly the area became really busy, and we noticed a lot of buses passing right by us. I suggested we hop on one of them (#32, €1.40 each) and take a little tour of the Albaicín, Granada’s Arab Quarter, and also part of the UNESCO heritage site. We hoped - but weren’t sure - that the bus made a circuit and we’d eventually end up near the Granada Cathedral.

The bus first took us back up to Alhambra, and then gradually worked its way to the Albaicín, through a maze of impossibly narrow streets that very much reminded me of the Middle East. We passed the very busy Plaza de San Nicolás, which had been recommended by our host for sunset views of Alhambra, and is said to be the most famous viewpoint in Granada (and known for pickpockets).

Our bus stopped for 10 minutes at extremely busy Plaza Nueva (Granada’s central plaza) before continuing its roundabout journey. Granada was a lot bigger than I had expected, and just as busy as Barcelona and Seville had been.

Donna was convinced I’d led her astray, and just about the time I was going to agree with her, we saw the stop for Gran Via 5, which I thought was near the Granada Cathedral. We didn’t recognize the area, but only because we were behind the church. We got our bearings and worked our way back to the apartment, but not before wandering through the Alcaicería (the Great Bazaar of Granada).


Alcaicería

Later that evening I went out to find some food, hoping for something quick and easy like a bikini, but only finding bakeries selling sweet items and coffee. I was ready for dinner, but Granada was geared up for la merienda. I wandered for quite some time, walking in a grid so as not to get lost; covering a large area around the apartment, and not finding a thing I wanted to eat. So, it was back to our neighborhood Carrefour, where I picked up croissants, almonds and mandarins.

It was Halloween and the streets were busy; kids everywhere. We were in for a noisy night.

To be continued...

Last edited by Melnq8; Nov 29th, 2022 at 11:54 AM.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 12:54 PM
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Love your photos of the Nasrid Palace, Mel, especially the fountain of the Patio de los Leones.

I think the people queuing up at the Alhambra Entrance Pavilion may have been those who hadn't booked online and thought (mistakenly) that they would release last minute tickets at the ticket office the morning of---or... they were lined up to purchase the gardens + Alcazaba fortress + Generalife ticket, which doesn't include the obligatory timed entrance/admission to the Nasrid Palace. Luckily they now sell the general admission, complete visit tickets one year in advance, which makes it much easier for planning.

On to Nov. 1!
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