The morning started nice and late. We ventured downstairs for a coffee at about 10am. After coffee we left our bags with the wonderful receptionist at the Casa dela Catedral and headed off, across the way, to the Cathedral.
The Rough Guide isn’t exactly complimentary when it comes to the Catedral de Granada but we both thought it was pretty impressive. While not as glorious as the monastery we visited yesterday, it’s still big and filled with some beautiful paintings and statuary. There’s also the added benefit of a chapel specifically for good old St Sebastien…which cheered me immeasurably.
Everyone who visits the cathedral is given one of those listening sticks (or audio guides as the kids are calling them these days). There are only a few numbers throughout the building so it’s not like you can just listen to an explanation of a particular individual thing as you’re passing…which was a bit annoying. Still, I usually have nothing at all to go on so I shouldn’t complain.
While not complaining, I’d just like to say how wonderful our room was last night. We had the window open all night with no need of air conditioning and, although there were still a fair few people out and about at midnight, by the middle of the early hours, the place was silent.
The only odd thing about the hotel was the intricate control system for the toilet. Fortunately there was also a normal flush button on top because this was just frightening.
Anyway, apart from the above, I would have been happy to stay here for the entire two weeks but that was not to be for move we must so we packed up, ready for our remove to the Alhambra Paradore.
Before ‘removing’ ourselves, we finished up in the cathedral and wandered through the souk which was exactly like Marrakesh except not in the least scary or confusing. I think even Nicktor would enter it. After a coffee we decided to look into the Capilla Real where Isabella the Psychopath and her husband Ferdinand the Dim are (supposedly) buried.
No photos are allowed at this most sacred of Andalucian sites so…annoying really. I took this from the outside.
Still, the place is quite majestic and impressive and a bit of a waste for five coffins (their kids and son-in-law are buried there as well). Though, to be fair, it’s a bit more ornate than that. We did queue with the other of the faithful in order to stop briefly by a window looking at the simple caskets but on our way we inspected the extraordinary marble monuments of the royal selves.
Possibly my favourite bit was the grill between the outer and inner chapels. It was made by a chap called Bartolome de Jaen between 1518 and 1520 and is gilded forged iron. It is topped with the whole Christ and his crucifixion thing but what impressed me mostly was the spiralled iron uprights. They were very long and would have been a right bugger to hammer and twist given the iron industry of the time. This was well before the Industrial Revolution and the mass production of iron. The grill was a testament to the skill of the smith who made it.
We also saw Isabella’s crown which was remarkably plain – silver with no jewels – before heading back into the light of the beautiful blue day. (Yep, another one. The weather has been indescribably stunning so far.)
We then collected our bags, some rather odd tea for Mirinda (it’s pina colada flavour) and flagged down a cab on the main road at the top of the old city. And we were almost instantly delivered to the top of a very steep hill outside the Paradore de Granada in the Alhambra. Once a Franciscan monastery this place is now the height of luxury at the height of Granada. It is also inside a World Heritage Site which is something we’re well chuffed about. And the view is pretty damned good too.
We’ll be heading up there tomorrow as part of our extensive Alhambra tour, the tickets for which I bought online months ago because you have to. Only a limited number of people are allowed inside the Alhambra each day so it’s very wise to buy your tickets early. As it is, the tickets are for either the morning or the afternoon and we had to book a time to visit the Nasrid Palace as well. It was all very complicated though I have to thank the guy at reception in the hotel who filled me in on what was best to do and when to do it.
I was much relieved given I’d thought I’d be heading up to the main entrance at 7am tomorrow morning to get our tickets. Relieved, we dropped our bags in the room and headed down to the exquisite terrace cafe for a delicious lunch. I’m not going to mention all the food we have because I know it gets boring but I feel I just have to mention the grilled aubergine in honey I had for lunch today. It’s a regional favourite and is just amazing! My taste-buds will never be the same again…in a good way. Oh and Mirinda had the white almond soup which was super delicate and delicious. And very, very white.
Having filled ourselves on Spanish tucker, we headed up to the main entrance to collect our tickets for tomorrow which was painless and simple. This is in stark contrast to the Hop On Hop Off bus which it appears no-one hopped off today. We stood for about five minutes at the stop and the woman selling the tickets told us (and the other people in the queue) that it was very busy today so if there were seats she’d sell us tickets but if not then we could wait for the next one. Given there were no seats, we decided to forego our usual city transit and walked down to what Mirinda has lovingly named The Bacon.
The Bacon (actually called The Albaicin) is an area that runs down between Sacromonte Hill and the Rio Darro (hardly a river, more a trickle) and can be quite rough – there are warnings about bag snatchers and other low lifes in the Rough Guide – though we didn’t see anything rough at all. In fact it was all quite beautiful. Especially the views looking up towards the Alhambra; the buildings glowing in the setting sun.
We really had a lovely wander down the hill before catching a taxi back up the hill in time for a bit of a rest before going for our Hope and Gratitude Dinner for 2016 in the hotel restaurant. And, while this almost came a-cropper because of a booking issue with the hotel, it all turned out beautifully. We were grateful for lots of stuff and our hopes were as realistic as they are every year.