Granada -Day 1

Even though we had enjoyed our stay at Saga Rental apartments in Madrid we were excited to be heading south to Granada. The high speed AVE train soon had us speeding through the Spanish countryside. It was hard to capture photos in focus due to the speed but we passed through a range of countryside – green fields, bare ground, hilltop villages and towns.After some time we stopped at a station, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Antequera. An announcement came over the PA in Spanish and by the movement of everyone else we realised that we had to disembark the train. We were soon guided to one of several buses, which was heading for Granada. Apparently the high speed train station for Granada was still under construction. This coach took us to Granada train station. On arrival we collected our luggage and chatted (in English) with another couple who told us the station wasn’t anywhere near the centre and we should take a taxi. So we joined the taxi queue. Our driver didn’t speak English but with our few words of Spanish and the name and address of where we were staying, he soon had us on our way and within ten minutes we had arrived. The cost was only 8 Euros, which we thought pretty reasonable. Our accommodation, Pension Austria was basic, cheap and clean. The reception staff were very helpful. It was near to heaps of restaurants and most importantly it was on the main street leading up to the Alhambra. After settling in and eating lunch, which we had prepared back at our apartment in Madrid we decided to do a reconnaissance walk up to the Alhambra. To this stage we had not been able to book tickets into the central parts of the Alhambra and needed to find out how we could do this. At the top end of our street was a gateway entry to the road leading up to the Alhambra. The walk was definitely all uphill. After about twenty minutes we reached an entry gate to the complex.

To our left was the Alcazaba fortress which you needed a ticket to enter.

To our right was another grand looking building, the Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada (a former palace), and it was free to enter.

Inside looked like this

and here is the exterior from the back and side.These fixtures on the side wall were intriguing.Further along we found an information booth. The young guy at the counter who spoke English was very helpful, once we adjusted to his Scottish accent. No we would be unable to buy tickets for the inner palace and the famous gardens as they were all sold out. However he told us that each night just after midnight any spare tickets from tour companies were made available for the following day. This would be a small chance to buy tickets but at least all was not lost. We continued our walk around the areas that are free.

Next we did a reconnaissance to the main entry to the Alhambra which was further up the original road we had been on. This would be helpful for the next day should we secure tickets.

Feeling good about that we took the walk back downhill past our Pension which had a small clothing stall out the front

and did some more exploring in that area,

even finding a building dating back to the early 14th century with a lovely interior courtyard.

By that time we needed a drink so even though it was in a touristy location we went to one of the cafes near the fountain in Plaza Nueva. Karen drank a hot chocolate and I tried a sangria.Did I like it? Let’s just say it is an acquired taste and I have no intention of trying another one. After a brief rest back at our room we ventured out for dinner. We headed along the Carrera del Darro checking out the bars and restaurants. Eventually we decided to eat at Bodega La Bella y La Best Origins. We started with a drink. This time I stuck with a beer.

Granada has a great reputation for hospitality. Whenever you order a drink it is accompanied by a free tapas.Our meals arrived very quickly and were pub style but as we were quite hungry they were just what we needed. After dinner we continued walking in to the heart of the Albaicin neighbourhood. After a steady uphill walk around the main road we finally made our way into the bustling Mirador San Nicolás, a small courtyard near the San Nicolás church, which had many restaurants and bars around it. The main reason for coming here was of course the awesome views across to the Alhambra. Sadly I should have taken a tripod but here is a shot that is reasonably in focus.Karen also managed to take a reasonable photo of me, holding the camera very steadily, no mean feat due to the poor light and slow exposure.After enjoying the atmosphere of the small courtyard with its buskers, street artists and restaurants we made our way back to our room. We sat around chatting for a while and then just after midnight I tried logging into the official Alhambra website to try our luck. Within seconds we were disappointed. No tickets seemed available. As Karen drifted off to sleep I decided to set my phone alarm for 1:00am. I too fell asleep only to be rudely disturbed by the alarm. I logged in again and to my delight was able to purchase two General tickets which would gain us entry to the Generalife with its palace and famous gardens, the Alcabaza fortress and a set time of 14:30 to the Nasrid Palaces and gardens. All thanks to the tip from the young Scottish guy in the information booth.

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