You can’t day-trip Spanish cities. Siesta consumes afternoons, and Spaniards thrive by night, so we decide to abandon our Villa for one evening and check into a modest hotel in the heart of old Granada. The City restricts traffic through her labyrinthine lanes, and I had dueling directions from Google Maps, Garmin, Sue, Max and our Hotel, so after a stressful navigation we manage to find our hotel, to drop our bags, park our car venture into the old town via my preferred method of transport, by foot. Rick Steves guides us about town and it’s a pleasant place, but not quite as charming as Seville, so after a few hours and a simple lunch we head back to the hotel to put our feet up, re-charge and ready ourselves for the Main Event – the grand Alhambra.
There we hide from the heat as our tour group forms. We avoid tours but we needed one to get tickets to this crowded site – sometimes 8,000 visitors a day. We settled, and soon I found our guide’s hollow platitudes frustrating, so tuned her out and relied again on Rick Steve’s self-guided… much more informative. The Alhambra is a “must see” but the crowds detract from it a bit, and I like better the distant memories I have from my visit here 25 years ago, when the place was less developed and toured. A Taxi brought us back to our Old Town neighborhood where we plugged the boys with some touristy calories before dropping them in the hotel room. That can only mean one thing…
Tapas time! Here in Granada they serve you free tapas with your drink order. They usually involve ham of some kind, so eventually we had to find Sue some swine-free fodder. What a great excuse to sample Spanish wines. We remain partial to the Rioja and Albariño, so look forward to our upcoming travels in Galicia and Basque Country. Tuesday morning the boys got in on the culinary fun, as we meandered over to Cafe Futbol for famous churros, hot chocolate and coffee. We’re getting good at finding the upwind tables to avoid Europe’s many smokers.
Today’s exploration involves hiking up through the ancient Albayzín quarter for a taste of moorish life and Alhambra views. The narrow lanes provide good shade and the shops are sensual, teeming with souk smells, colors and textures. Hookahs, stained glass lanterns, fruit markets, tea houses, shawarma shops, and more than a few “blackfoot” hippies smoking pot and avoiding responsibility. “Stay in school, boys.” By mid day we’ve done Granada, and having learned my lesson we’re prepared for a clean getaway. An hour brings us home and it’s warm enough for a quick dip in the pool before a rewarding Alberino and Sue feast.