17 October 2013

Gorgeous Granada

La Alhambra filled my morning with Moorish delights leaving just the afternoon and early evening to find out what the rest of Granada had to offer.

My explorations usually start with asking for a city map from the hotel and the one of Granada was a good one as it highlighted the main sights and also suggested some routes to follow. I was in no position to object so I picked a route that covered the old part of town.

I started with a light lunch in a very pretty square, and one I would return to later for my supper. Next to that was the first major building, the cathedral sitting in its own little square but the sun was kinder to it when I came back later so I've chosen a picture from then and that appears below.

There were a few pretty small squares, old buildings and statues to brighten my step before heading up to the older part of the town.

The first part of the walk took me along a river that did little to fill the gorge it had created in better days.

The main road just about took traffic and I was rather surprised when a bus went past. The smaller roads leading up the hill on the left were best left to pedestrians.

I took one of the paths suggested and fought my way up the hill. It was a warm afternoon and that exertion suggested a beer (and cake) so I rested in the first cafe that I found. This had the extra advantage of views across the valley to La Alhambra.

The map showed me the route to take but only told part of the story. There was no suggestion of the gradients and these proved to be quite steep at times. The map also suggested that all the roads were equal when most could not accommodate any sort of vehicles and in the extreme cases they were steep steps.

Having climbed all the way to the top there was no option than to climb down again and, avoiding the way that I came, I headed further west and further from the hotel.

I may just have got lost in the maze of roads that aren't really roads but I'll claim that I was only using the map as a guide and I took the routes that looked the more interesting.

I did manage to get to the old city walls. This was a surprisingly grubby part of the city, very unlike the other side of the hill, and it almost felt abandoned. There were few other people and most of those were fellow tourists looking at maps puzzlingly.

One of the treats of climbing around the old town was coming across views on the newer city below. That also saved me a bit of walking as I could see one of the old arches to the town hiding among the similarly coloured roof tops.

The walls were worth finding.

Descending back to the centre of the city was a descent back into the sunlight. That lifted the mood and the buildings, while still old, became warmer and more welcoming.

The descent inevitably took me back to the cathedral and this time the low sun was full on the prettiest side of it and this time it was worth photographing.

The square next to the cathedral was a good place to stop and make the most of the last of the sun. The square was pretty enough and was buzzing, in a nice way, with tourists.

There were steps along one side of the square and these made good seats to watch the little flamenco display aimed to tease money from tourists. It worked. I stayed there a fair while to watch the two dancers, guitarist and singer go through several of their pieces. I happily paid my dues at the end but my attempts to congratulate one of the dancers fell flat at the language barrier. I thought that everybody in Europe spoke English!

And that was about it for the day.

I went back to Plaza Bib-Rambla to eat, an idea that most of Granada seemed to have.

The square was full of restaurants so it was easy to find a different one from where I had lunch but not so easy to find one that had half-decent options for vegetarians and a free table.

Other people on our tour had the same problem and we ended up with the four vegetarians in the group sharing a table. Having spent most of the holiday (understandably) trying to avoid some of the other people it was good to spend the final evening with some like-minded people. Apart from the one young woman there with her mother, this other couple were the next youngest after us. And they were retired.

We were only in Granada for a day and I was amazed by how much I had seen in that time and how pretty it all was. On most occasions seeing La Alhambra would have been enough to make a successful day and this day also had me clambering over the city's other hill.

It's the one place that I went to on the tour that I am seriously thinking of going back to.

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