Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #37 Granada: The Alhambra
As usual, we don't take off for the next place until 7 PM. We will ever learn - NO! We better start because now we are in the east of España and it is late September and the sun sets much earlier than before. We'll see. Marcia drove the 123 miles to Granada through miles and miles of olive trees growing everywhere and the mountains are as bleak and beautiful as those in New Mexico. We arrive at the edge of town at 8:30 PM but the traffic is horrendous (worse than LA). By trying to dodge the standstill stuff we went all over the place waiting for the GPS to kick back in to the new course. We finally climbed the hill and the GPS took us to the Cementerio above the Alhambra. Asking directions we finally arrived at the Alhambra Palace at 9:30. By the time we got checked in and unloaded it was a little late to go hunting around for a great place to eat. Because the view was so great from the hotel we decided to just have dinner here (always a bad idea going for the view). For dinner we had a nice vino verde (bino bear-deh), and I had a tortilla with ham (omelet) and a veal tenderloin. that was the best I have had on this trip. Marcia had a spinach/pine nuts/raison soufflé and broiled hake which she loved. We had cheesecake and flan for postres (dessert) which were delicious along with a glass of port and a real cappuccino. During dinner I called Dr. Jorge Alio of Alicante and told him I was coming there as I had promised him I would at the ASCRS meeting. He said he would reserve a place for us and invited me to visit his clinic and see the recent ThinOptX lens he had just implanted. This hotel is absolutely gorgeous and worth visiting just to see it. There was a wedding here, like there has been almost everywhere we have gone. These Iberians are a marrying people. We went to bed at 3 AM.
I woke at 7:20 to look out the window at this beautiful view out over the entire city of Granada. They told it was rare to see the entire city because there usually is a haze over it. I woke again at 10:30 and by 11:30 I was running down the hill from the Alhambra all the way to the Granada Catedral in the center of town. As I finished, it began to sprinkle a little so I ducked into the cathedral and paid to see the inside and the Museo. It was huge but not as interesting as many others I have seen so far. When I came out it was clear but it started to sprinkle again so I paid to tour the Capilla Real which contains the tombs of Isabel & Ferdinand, the famous King & Queen of Spain (Reyes Católicos) that reconquered Spain from the Moors, initiated the Inquisition, expelled the Jews and sent Columbus (Colon) to discover America. You'd think they would be in Madrid, the Castilian capitol, but they are here. Interesting tombs with their effigies but their bodies are buried in coffins that you can see when you climb down to the second level. As I exited the building there was more rain and as I walked to find a cab it really started to pour and I ran out of canopies to hide under so I ducked into a bar for cappuccino. Rebecca had emailed me that Bush had given a great speech before Congress and I found a copy of the full text of the speech in an English newspaper at the hotel. I sat there and read it and it was quite emotional sitting in this place so far away. I really felt proud that I have supported this man from the very beginning. I had to get going and the rain kept pouring as I waited under some trees for a cab. One finally came and I got back to the hotel and changed. Marcia and I planned to see the Alhambra even in the rain so we got our umbrellas and walked up the hill to the main entrance gait to see a line waiting to buy tickets longer than those at Disney World. There must have been over 100 people in line and the loudspeaker said "Only 80 tickets left for today." We now realize this place is a little different. They only allow a limited number of people to enter the Moorish castle part of the Alhambra each day. We decided to give up and try tomorrow.
We walked back in the rain and the umbrella wasn't much help because all my clothes were soaked. My hair was dry though. When I got back to the room the only clothing that wasn't drenched was my underwear so I completely changed. I had CNN on and heard Bush's Saturday radio address. With the rain so heavy it was pleasant to sit with the computer in the lobby. The barman & I discovered we both like and use the same Papermate pen and because the ink ran out of mine, he gave me one of his. After a couple of hours, the rain stopped and the sun started shining. I thought it might be good to go to Mass on Saturday since we had so much to do in the morning. The hotel told me they had a 7:00 Mass at St. Cecilla (thay-thee-yah) but it was a walk way down the hill. When I get there people are throwing rice at the wedding couple and the church doors slam shut for the day. So I have to hike back up the hill. We then caught a cab to take us down this hill and then up the hill next to us to the Albaicin to view the sunset over the Alhambra. It was gorgeous and then he drove us to Restaurante Cunini in the old city near the Catedral. We had chipirones (fried baby cuttlefish) and Marcia had anglerfish while I enjoyed another San Jacobo. We then took a cab to the Sala Alhambra flamenco show which we had responsibly booked with the their hotel concierge. It is said that the best place to see flamenco is in Granada. The audience was a little bigger than in Seville. The tour buses were pouring people into this huge showroom and it was similar to going to a show in Vegas, crammed into long tables. A bottle of champagne was included in the ticket which finally arrived half way through the show. The performance was similar in format to what we had seen last time but they seemed more professional but maybe just a little too slick. The funny thing is that we think we liked the other one better even though there had been no audience. After the show they had a guy drive us back to the Alhambra Palace at no charge and he refused a tip. It was a very nice evening and we got to bed at 3AM.
Because we had to get a ticket early, Marcia woke me up at 7:30 and I was dying. I climbed out of the hotel and caught the 1st cab for the two minute ride up to the gate. I went to the back of the line at 8:30 and after 20 minutes I had my ticket to enter the Palace at 10:30. I took a cab back to the hotel and had a cappuccino and put my running clothes on under regular clothes. The day was slightly overcast and partly cloudy but the rains were over. I took a cab back up again at 9:30 and headed straight for the Palace. They let me in at 10:15 and I toured this magnificent example of Moorish buildings in Spain. The designs were really incredible. The path led me outside and I walked further up the hill to see the great gardens called the Gereralife (ghen-er-al-lee-feh). After walking all through that it was almost noon and time to find the chapel in the Alhambra where they had a Mass. I actually got there early and was there for the beginning of the Mass. After Mass I found the Parador within the walls of the Alhambra which was converted from a Franciscan monastery. I found the cafe and relaxed with a cappuccino and a crossword puzzle for an hour before tackling the rest of this huge place. I then went to tour the Fort called the jamón Alcabaca and then the Palace of King Carlos V. Marcia had signed up for a tour of the whole place from 10 to 1 while I did it on my own (tours bore me to death). I caught a cab back to the hotel and worked on my photos. We checked out of the hotel at 4 PM and then I went for my run back down the hill to the Catedral area and I found an Internet cafe to send email Diario #35. A cab back to the hotel and it was time to leave this great city of Andalucía.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #38
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
PHOTOS: 37GranadaA 37GranadaB
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