Andalusia cont.

Granada was the Moors’ last stronghold in Spain. The Moors occupied this area for seven centuries building a castle and village in this walled fortress on a hill called the Alhambra.  After the Christian Reconquista, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella held their Royal Court from the Alhambra. In fact, this is where Christopher Columbus received Isabella’s blessing for his expedition which led to the discovery of the Americas.

Because the Moors originally developed the Alhambra, there is still much evidence of Moorish/Muslim architecture. Although at different times Charles I and V laid claim to the Alhambra and ordered a Renasainnce palace constructed in the Mannerist style, the architecture overall is quite a mix.

After destruction from war, for many years the Alhambra was left to decay and was subsequently home to squatters. However, due to the interest of British intellectuals the Alhambra was rediscovered and once again became a sight to see. Author Washington Irving was allowed to live at the Alhambra for a time and wrote a novel entitled, Tales of the Alhambra, which brought even greater interest in the area. Now the Alhambra is one of the most visited tourist sites in Spain.

The fortress was large enough to enclose a town on the hillside. In it’s day, the Alhambra had huge gardens that grew enough to support the people living there. They had developed a unique water supply system with conduits fed by the Darro River off the mountains. The idea was to use the fortress to withstand attacks from invaders and meet all the needs of those inside. These water systems are still in use today.

Little did we know it would be necessary to get reservations weeks in advance to visit this most popular site. Yes, we are now into full-on tourist season. Well, we found a way around that little dilemma by scheduling a night tour with a guide. There were only about twenty guided tours that night in several different languages with at least twenty tourists per group!

At night, with lights strategically placed, The Alhambra was a beautiful sight. It would have been a bit more comfortable and romantic without the rain. Running in the rain to squeeze onto the short bus was kinda fun. Also, I would recommend visiting during the day in addition to night. Ah, just a reason to return.

A few pictures for you to get a glimpse.

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From Granada we visited an olive plantation and learned about the olive oil process. Of course there were some delicious tasting opportunities. Also we stopped along the way for some lovely vistas of the area.

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From Granada we headed to the Costa Del Sol for a bit of beach time. We stayed in the city of Nerja which was lovely. The beach closest to our condo was covered with palapas and loungers. There was a small fee to use the space and no beach waiters. However, restaurants lined the walkway across from the palapas that allowed you to take your drink and food to your loungers.

Swim tops were optional. Of course it was mostly older women who took advantage of this. We added some beach time to get a break from tourist activities. However, there were things to see here including the Balcon de Europa, an ancient aqueduct and the huge caves. It took us 10 minutes to walk downhill to the beach and at least 20 minutes, all uphill, to get home. Ugh! Good for us.

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From Nerja we traveled inland to Córdoba on the bus and train. The knife saga continues. We had to go through security and our luggage through the x-Ray machine to board the train in Malaga. Doug talked with the guard about the knives he’d purchased in Toledo just weeks before. At the time he was allowed to take them on this very same train system.

In Malaga the knives were NOT allowed on the train. Same company, same country, same system, different rules. The security guard directed Doug to mail the knives home. The Post Office was just around the corner from the train station. Off Doug goes as I sit with the bags. Within a short time he returns, empty handed. Ah success, I think. Not to be. The woman at the PO told him the knives would not leave the city once they had been discovered on x-ray. Consequently, Doug gifted the knives to this woman. Heavy sigh. End of the Knife Saga.

On to Córdoba. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is one of the most highly respected Moorish sites. There was originally a Christian church on this site. During various changes in leadership, it became Muslim, Christian and now joint. It is an awe-inspiring building not to be missed should you get an opportunity.

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Lucky for us when we arrived in Córdoba it was time for the annual Fiesta de los Patios. This is when various private homes throughout the city open their courtyards for public viewing. It was such fun walking around the city viewing the beautiful flowers both inside and outside the courtyards. Getting a glimpse inside allowed us to see how these walls enclose such lovely outdoor living spaces.

We’re off to Italy. Our last leg of this momentous journey.

Adios.

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