Granada, Spain, September 25 - 26, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our sole stop in Europe with time for a bit of sightseeing was in Granada, one I found to be a fitting introduction on a trip to Morocco because of its historical significance as capital of the last Moorish kingdom in Spain until 1492.  Americans know that year best as the one of Christopher Columbus's discovery of the new world, but it was a momentous year for aggressive Spanish Catholicism for other reasons as well.  The fall of Granada, which completed the Christian reconquest of Spain, and the expulsion of Jews and Moslems from Spain in that year were two events with greater immediate significance in the country. 
My nearly 24 hours in Granada reinforced the impressions of Spain I formed on previous trips to Madrid and Barcelona, that when it comes to travel "Espana es mi pais favorito!"  Like other cities in Spain, Granada es un paraiso!  Its beautiful and well-preserved historical center is pedestrian-friendly and full of museums, churches, and historical sghts, as well as cafes, tapas bars, and restaurants.  Perhaps more than pedestrian-friendly, it might be appropriate to say that central Granada is appealingly auto-hostile with its limited parking and steep narrow alleyways cars can't navigate.
Our campground was on Granada's outskirts, so to make the most of my limited time there I took the bus into the city center both the evening we arrived and the following morning.  So while the others were eating a camp meal of mushy pasta with white sauce, I was at a tapas bar having cheap canas (small glasses) of beer and the accompanying free tapas, not ones of my choice but whatever the kitchen happens to be serving at that hour/minute - take it or leave it.  Named for the local mountain range, the "Plato Alpujarreno" seemed to me to be the menu's most authentic dinner choice and turned out to be a cholesterol-lover's special of country ham, sausage, chorizo, a fried egg, and fried potatoes - virtually an American diner breakfast. 
Granada's main sights and claim to fame are the Alhambra and Generalife, the massive hilltop fortress and residential complex built by the ruling Nasrid Dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries.  Unfortunately, tickets for the Alhambra and Generalife were all sold out for the day of my visit.  I was, however, still able to circle the complex outside its high walls and get spectacular views of it from numerous miradors (scenic overlooks) in the Albaicin. 
Unable to get into the Alhambra, I spent most of my time in Granada wandering around the Albaicin, the city's medieval neighborhood of steep narrow alleyways and white-washed houses built on the slopes of a hill that faces the Alhambra across a ravine.  With its pedestrian streets and stairways, intimate placitas and lush private gardens, cloistered churches and tiled roofs, wrought iron balconies and facades decorated with azulejo tiles and ceramic plates, the Albaicin is everything an old Andalusian village is supposed to be. 
Shortly after lunch I took the last bus that would get me back to the campground in time for our planned departure.  I found the truck already parked down the hill by the bus stop and cook groups all shopping for the days ahead at a small supermarket.  I rushed to buy everything I'd need before 2:00 P.M. siesta time closing and decided on a huge pork loin for my turn to make dinner, probably the last swine we'd see for a few months as we were about to enter the Moslem world.

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kathie on

hey there,
i had no idea how much you enjoyed our mushy pasta nights or spaghetti bolonaise.
finally getting a chance to read some of your west african blog. oh how i miss it.
love the photos so far.
take care,

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