Friday was the big day to tour the Alhambra. The Alhambra is the old
village/palace/fort complex constructed on the hill above Grenada and various
parts of it date back 1200 years and span many different cultures from the
Romans, Arab/Moorish, Catholic kings to a modern day monastery. I’ve done a lot
of travel around the world and this is both one of the coolest things to tour as
well as one of the longest single sites (if you want to check out the whole
In the days prior to our departure the weather forecast for Southern Spain
didn’t look good but luckily the weather forecasters were wrong and it was
absolutely beautiful. We hiked all over and I took an amazing amount of
pictures- over 1000 in this one day. The Alhambra has so many examples of cool
architecture so I took lots of close ups of various carvings or various designs,
plus there are a ton of great spots for panoramic photographs. It will probably
take me weeks of playing around at home to pull together some higher quality
After touring all day we found a dinner place on a local square a bit away
from the central tourist masses and returned for a second time to get some
gelato at the Cafe Bib-Rambla.
Another twist on the timing of our trip is that it was Holy Week (or Semana
Santa). Many of the towns in Spain have traditions where they take their statues
of the Virgin Mary out of their churches and parade them around while often
dressed in clothes that resemble the Klu Klux Klan to American eyes (although
the Spanish traditions are much older and I gather the Spanish are annoyed that
the infamous American organization stole their symbol). These statues are on
these giant platforms and are often carried by 20-40 men marching along an inch
at a time.
We were tired after dinner and tried to pick up a taxi to take us up the
hill. The driver refused to take us and at first I was pissed, thinking he just
didn’t want to take the fairly short ride which would probably require him to
take a fairly long return with no fare (the streets out of the Alhambra are not
straight-forward to put it mildly). The driver managed to communicate to Stacy
that the way was blocked and sure enough we looked over and saw a police car
blocking the road up to our hotel. We set off on foot but were unsuccessful
asking the cop where and when the procession might be. We kept looking around
and just as we were getting close to the top we started seeing some lights and
noises. My reaction was “hurry up, let’s go before we miss it” but Stacy
accurately pointed out that the thing’s don’t move very fast at all and there
was no rush.
The procession at the Alhambra was a pretty small one I gather and they
weren’t even wearing the special clothing. Still it was pretty cool and it
wasn’t over until past 1am and they had delivered the statue back into the
church right next to our hotel.
posted in Travel |
After a long day of travel we arrived in Grenada, got our bags and our rental
car. Picking up the car was really easy and while I was a bit concerned that the
“service needed” message came on right away, it was driving fine and the only
staff-person at the Avis counter was gone by the time we were ready to leave the
We followed the highway signs for the Alhambra. Our hotel is actually on the
grounds of the site so we needed to drive up a road that is normally restricted.
Stacy proved her value right away by negotiating with the guard who restricts
access up to this road since we didn’t have whatever documentation he expected
to prove we had reservations.
The Hotel America was great. Initially I wanted to stay at the main hotel on
the Alhambra site- the Parador. However the Parador costs about twice as much so
we had switched to the Hotel America which wasn’t anything fancy, but it had a
nice relaxed cafe and wasn’t as stuffy feeling as the Parador.
After relaxing a bit we joined Lauren, Ken, Olivia, Belle, Norm and Dan (big
crowd!) for a very nice dinner at a Moroccan place in the Arab quarter (I wish I
remembered the name of the place).
posted in Travel |
Over the next couple of days I’m going to post several entries with old dates on them. I’ve been traveling in
Spain for the last week and a half and am catching up on my travel reports. I’ve actually had pretty good
Internet access during the trip, but felt uncomfortable about posting on the
public internet that I was away while I’m actually out of the house. It would be
really cool if there were some good solutions for this kind of situation that
would let me share this stuff more effectively with my friends and family but
not the whole world, but so far this doesn’t appear to exist. In any case, if you see new posts appearing from
10 days ago, its not a bug.
Today (the 5th) we left for Spain. We booked some business class tickets for
Kat and me using my airline miles but unfortunately getting to the south of
Spain ended up involving three flights with connections in Chicago and Madrid.
They changed our flights just a couple of weeks ago and we wound up with greater
than 4 hour layovers in both Chicago and Madrid. After the miserable experience
in Dallas I don’t mind a decent layover but 4 hours is a lot and expanded the
overall trip to 24 hours of travel. Flying business class was a big bonus for
the layovers since we got to stay in the special lounges. The other effect of
the reschedule was that they said they couldn’t book us seats ahead of time. We
brought Stacy to help with Fen and Olivia (two 7-8 year olds) but the bookings
were different so when we checked in they couldn’t get Stacy seats with the
Luckily we managed to negotiate seats together on each step but I noticed
that the Spanish airports aren’t set up at all to make seat changes at the gate.
The folks at the gate don’t have a way to do anything other than take the
tickets and put people on the airplane.
posted in Technology |