Famous picture location at the reflecting pool at the Nasrid palaces at the Alhambra

The temperature was down near freezing this morning and the daytime high wasn’t all that high, either. But it was nice enough for us to be out for several hours.

In the morning, we walked to a restaurant name Al Sur de Granada, where we have eaten breakfast in the past. Unfortunately, there have been enough small changes that we could not enjoy our meal the way we had in the past.

It was cool and windy enough that we too a taxi up to the Alhambra. Last time we were here it poured rain and we walked up, getting lost and soaked in the process. Neither of us wanted to risk that this year.

There were patches of clouds, but when the sun was out it was quite comfortable. We found some new archeological sites to look at, but we didn’t revisit all of the areas we have seen before. This time we spent part of our visit in a museum inside the Carlos V (Charles the 5th) looking at artifacts of the Islamic period here in Granada. Granada was one of the last places reconquered by the Spanish from the Muslims. [The fact that they didn’t have to spend on that war gave Isabella and Ferdinand a little leeway to fund the first Columbus expedition.] It is a very nice museo, but it is forbidden to take any pictures inside. That’s a change from our last visit.

In one of the Nasrid palaces

We did, however, revisit the Nasrid Palaces within the Alhambra. These “palaces” probably weren’t like what we think of as palaces like Buckingham and Windsor, but they were designed to impress people-both the ruler’s own people and visitors. They still do, 800 years later. I always tell myself not to take the same pictures on each visit and yet my eye seems to be grabbed by the same things. And, as far as I can tell, many of the people wandering through the palaces take the same pictures that I do.

The process of getting into the palaces starts long before one arrives at the Alhambra. When I bought my tickets on-line some time ago, I had to supply identification information for both Patricia and myself. Then, one is allocated a time when entry is allowed. When that time draws near, you must first pass through a checkpoint that validates you are allowed to enter. Then, after queueing in another line, your ticket is validated for the real entry. Hundreds of people pass into, and presumably out of, the palaces each half-hour. If not enough people leave, the entry line is held up for a while.

Elaborate decorations in Nasrid palace at the Alhambra

When the Catholic Kings (Monarchs or Católicos Reyes) captured Granada, they had the good sense not to destroy the Alhambra. In some places they layered on, but kept the underlying grandeur. Careful restoration helps us see some of it the way it was. We have seen changes / improvements in just the few years we have been visiting. 

Flower bed at the Alhambra

Even though it was cool today and it was difficult to believe Spring is right around the corner, the gardens in the Alhambra were planted with colorful flowers as a reminder.

We walked down the hill to Plaza Nueva. It is a little longer than half a mile, and part of the walk is quite steep. It started getting colder towards the end of our visit and by the time we returned to the apartment the clouds and wind were back and it became too cool for us to sit outside on our terrace and eat our snacks.

Before we left for Spain I arranged a combination dinner / flamenco show at La Casa del Arte here in Granada. Reviews indicated that the restaurant Faralá was good, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if we were going to be rushed through a pre-packaged meal with dozens of other people. One of my concerns was addressed when the hostess at the flamenco tablao said “Are you Steven?” when I said we were there for dinner. Of course, then I wondered if we would be the only ones dining. We were indeed the only ones for the early seating, but it worked out very well for us.

We had choices for our meal, the wine list was good, and we had time to speak with Victor, who was essentially our personal attendant. The food was interesting and hardly pre-packaged. Everything we were served was carefully and individually prepared. Victor took time to tell us about the ingredients and preparation and he was clearly proud of the restaurant. We enjoyed our meal and then Victor escorted us downstairs to the tablao and our reserved seats.

At La Casa del Flamenco Manuel Fernandez, Raul Molinas, Cristina Carrasco, Adrian Sanchez (l to r)

We saw a performance at La Casa del Arte two years ago and enjoyed it. This performance was also quite good and enjoyable. We have seen enough flamenco now to recognize that different areas have different styles and I think the style here is very down to earth. Lots of energy and power, and the performers seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. The performers were Adrian Sanchez and Cristina Carrasco (baile), Raúl Molina (cante), and Manuel Fernandez (guitarra). We haven’t seen any of them before and we were impressed.

It wasn’t too late when we walked back to our apartment, which is good, because we were a little tired. The hills on the way were no less steep nor were their fewer stairs, but we made it back. 

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