April 15-16 Granada

The village of Beas Granada nestles in the foothills between the Sierra de Huétor and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. The view while waiting for our bus was stunning. The 1/2 hour ride into town, ensconced in plush padded seats was luxurious, and I revelled in being able to rubberneck as we wound through picturesque valleys and villages to Granada. Granada, home to the Alhambra fortress and palace complex, perhaps the zenith of Moorish architecture in Spain. We knew that getting tickets could be a problem but hope springs eternal. A coffee and a pastry, a 1.7 km walk along the base of the Albaicin (the old Arab quarter) brought us to the base of the Alhambra complex. The Cuesta de Gomérez, a steep narrow lane crowded with pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and delivery vans, and lined with tourist shops and restaurants spilling their wares and tables onto the street led to the outer gate of the park. A further steep but more peaceful park-like climb brought us to the Puerta de la Justicia entrance to the complex. Another .6 km brought us to the ticket office where we discovered that tickets were sold out until mid-May. Our only chance for tickets was to line up for the 6:00 am sale of rush tickets. Since the first bus from camp was not until 7:00, we were out of luck. Despite our disappointment, we explored what we could without a ticket. It lacked the light delicacy and airiness of the Moorish filigree stonework and garden design of the Moorish palace, but the Palacio de Carlos V was imposing and we enjoyed the grounds and the palace / museum. The tourists posing at the centre of the circular interior courtyard were amusing and we enjoyed the views across the River Darro to the Albaicin (Moorish quarter) where hordes of people were gathered on a terrace of the church of San Nicolas to look across at the bigger hordes at the Alhambra. While retracing our steps down the Cuesta de Gomérez, hunger and sore feet got the better of us and we stopped for lunch. We suffered through the daily menu our choice of a poor white wine; canned asparagus with commercial mayonnaise or tinned gazpacho; and a dry fritatta or of some kind of oily fried fish with potato and a watery, flan-like, custardy thing for dessert at $30. A brief, after lunch exploration of the Albaicin almost redeemed the day and convinced us to return and spend more time in the Albaicin the next day.

April 16 Granada

Another pleasant bus ride into Granada and a day exploring the Albaicin. Truth to tell, I had seen the Alhambra some 42 years ago and while I remember being impressed by the interior stone filigree screens and formal gardens, if I had to choose between missing the Alhambra or missing the Albaicin, I would miss the Alhambra. We climbed the narrow, hilly, cobble-stoned streets, the stones polished so smooth over the years that they squeaked under our rubber soled sandals like fresh snow on a cold day and cars announced their approach with such loud squealing that we leaped to the side, only to be passed at no faster than a fast walk.  A young man emerged from his apartment, unicycle over his shoulder, but dared not ride the steep smooth cobbles. Near the top of the hill we discovered a small neighbourhood market, residential streets (both upscale and down),  empty alleys and graffiti covered walls, intimate and grandiose public squares. From the church of San Nicolas, we enjoyed an impressive view of the Alhambra, even more the collection of hawkers, buskers, and tourists strewn about the terrace and the restaurants lining the street below. Just off the neighbourhood market we discovered a sensory feast, a delight to the eye, the nose, and the mouth, a tapas bar/buffet, where for $15 per person plus $1.50 for a beer you could select as much as wanted from a dazzling array of intriguing tapas items. Sadly, the attached image does not do the presentation justice. In the maze of tortuous streets and alleys leading down to the River Darro, small out of the way squares and corners were informal meeting places. In one, a small group of coeds sat in intense conversation, fast food containers between them, cobbestones beneath them, ancient brick and rough stucco walls at their backs, a young man providing quiet syncopation for the conversation on an African drum. At another, a man, well into his bottle sat on the ground and heckled a workman repairing a nearby wall. In yet another small folding tables and chairs facilitated quiet conversion over beer and wine. At a somewhat larger, more central square, a lone busker played his violin to the accompaniment of a buzz of conversation from the outdoor restaurant/bar and small wandering groups of tourists reading maps and guides while an old man sat apart, dozing in a plastic armchair and children climbed and drank from a simple public fountain. As we approached the Dorro river separating the Alhambra from the Albaicin the crowds and the tourist emporia increased. Everything from clothing, leather goods and shoes, to carpets and baskets, to lighting, pottery, and ceramics, to postcards and jewelry spilled into the streets. Shoppers, mostly tourists identifiable by their cameras, backpacks, and souvenir T-shirts meandered through the stalls and vendors. The Albaicin is intriguing, engaging, and fascinating. You can feel as though you are wandering through a deserted village street one minute, find yourself amidst locals buying fresh fruit and vegetables at a local market square the next, and surrounded by hordes of tourists the next. After exploring the Albaicin, we headed off towards the Rambla and the commercial/ shop- ping area to explore. Along Calle Navas, we discovered small alleys lined with bar/restaurants and beginning to fill with people. Here we saw far more locals than tourists. They socialized over drinks and tapas, gossiping, talking shop or like us just strolling. Buskers enter- tained, often bringing the crowd to join in song or dance. It was siesta and along the Rambla most of the shops were closed. A few people window shopped or strolled in the afternoon sun, but com- pared to Barcelona, the Rambla was nearly deserted. A balloon seller stood at a plaza engulfed in her mass of balloons but no one was buying. Being Semana Santa, the city was preparing for the Holy Wednesday procession. Needing to catch the last bus, we strolled back to our bus stop. The police were beginning to block off streets, and viewing stands were beginning to fill or were cordoned off awaiting the privileged dignitaries who would enjoy the best views. People began to trickle and then to stream towards procession route. On the street, men going to join the procession wore the capriote (anonymous conical hood) and robes of the penitent, and women wore the traditional mantilla and peineta (comb) with dresses ranging from simple black to elaborate drapes and frills. We stopped at a local bar for a beer while we waited for the bus and watched live coverage of the beginning of procession on their TV. It was apparent that had we stayed, the crowds were so thick that we would probably not have seen much except the backs of a lot of heads and the top of the procession statues. As it was we saw the coordination of the many bearers, the "ascension" of the ponderous statue, and the slow procession through the gathered masses, all to an excited commentary that would have done a sports commentator proud.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Beas Granada and the Sierra Nevada from our bus stop Entering the Cuesta de Gomérez leading to the Alhambra Anothe lunch style in the Albaicin Courtyard, the Palacio de Carlos V Looking across to the Albaicin from the Palacio de Carlos V Tapas in the Albaicin Local market atop the Albaicin Public fountain, the Albaicin Calle Calderería (the lower Albaicin) Calle Calderería (the lower Albaicin) Ascending the Albaicion Pentinent and ladies going to join the procession. Street performance - off the Calle Navas

April 15-16 Granada

The village of Beas Granada nestles in the foothills between the Sierra de Huétor and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. The view while waiting for our bus was stunning. The 1/2  hour ride into town, ensconced in plush padded seats was luxurious, and I revelled in being able to rubberneck as we wound through picturesque valleys and villages to Granada. Granada, home to the Alhambra fortress and palace complex, perhaps the zenith of Moorish architecture in Spain. We knew that getting tickets could be a problem but hope springs eternal. A coffee and a pastry, a 1.7 km walk along the base of the Albaicin (the old Arab quarter) brought us to the base of the Alhambra complex. The Cuesta de Gomérez, a steep narrow lane crowded with pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and delivery vans, and lined with tourist shops and restaurants spilling their wares and tables onto the street led to the outer gate of the park. A further steep but more peaceful park- like climb brought us to the Puerta de la Justicia entrance to the complex. Another .6 km brought us to the ticket office where we discovered that tickets were sold out until mid- May. Our only chance for tickets was to line up for the 6:00 am sale of rush tickets. Since the first bus from camp was not until 7:00, we were out of luck. Despite our disappointment, we explored what we could without a ticket. It lacked the light delicacy and airiness of the Moorish filigree stonework and garden design of the Moorish palace, but the Palacio de Carlos V was imposing and we enjoyed the grounds and the palace / museum. The tourists posing at the centre of the circular interior courtyard were amusing and we enjoyed the views across the River Darro to the Albaicin (Moorish quarter) where hordes of people were gathered on a terrace of the church of San Nicolas to look across at the bigger hordes at the Alhambra. While retracing our steps down the Cuesta de Gomérez, hunger and sore feet got the better of us and we stopped for lunch. We suffered through the daily menu our choice of a poor white wine; canned asparagus with commercial mayonnaise or tinned gazpacho; and a dry fritatta or of some kind of oily fried fish with potato and a watery, flan-like, custardy thing for dessert at $30. A brief, after lunch exploration of the Albaicin almost redeemed the day and convinced us to return and spend more time in the Albaicin the next day.

April 16 Granada

Another pleasant bus ride into Granada and a day exploring the Albaicin. Truth to tell, I had seen the Alhambra some 42 years ago and while I remember being impressed by the interior stone filigree screens and formal gardens, if I had to choose between missing the Alhambra or missing the Albaicin, I would miss the Alhambra. We climbed the narrow, hilly, cobble-stoned streets, the stones polished so smooth over the years that they squeaked under our rubber soled sandals like fresh snow on a cold day and cars announced their approach with such loud squealing that we leaped to the side, only to be passed at no faster than a fast walk.  A young man emerged from his apartment, unicycle over his shoulder, but dared not ride the steep smooth cobbles. Near the top of the hill we discovered a small neighbourhood market, residential streets (both upscale and down),  empty alleys and graffiti covered walls, intimate and grandiose public squares. From the church of San Nicolas, we enjoyed an impressive view of the Alhambra, even more the collection of hawkers, buskers, and tourists strewn about the terrace and the restaurants lining the street below. Just off the neighbourhood market we discovered a sensory feast, a delight to the eye, the nose, and the mouth, a tapas bar/buffet, where for $15 per person plus $1.50 for a beer you could select as much as wanted from a dazzling array of intriguing tapas items. Sadly, the attached image does not do the presentation justice. In the maze of tortuous streets and alleys leading down to the River Darro, small out of the way squares and corners were informal meeting places. In one, a small group of coeds sat in intense conversation, fast food containers between them, cobbestones beneath them, ancient brick and rough stucco walls at their backs, a young man providing quiet syncopation for the conversation on an African drum. At another, a man, well into his bottle sat on the ground and heckled a workman repairing a nearby wall. In yet another small folding tables and chairs facilitated quiet conversion over beer and wine. At a somewhat larger, more central square, a lone busker played his violin to the accompaniment of a buzz of conversation from the outdoor restaurant/bar and small wandering groups of tourists reading maps and guides while an old man sat apart, dozing in a plastic armchair and children climbed and drank from a simple public fountain. As we approached the Dorro river separating the Alhambra from the Albaicin the crowds and the tourist emporia increased. Everything from clothing, leather goods and shoes, to carpets and baskets, to lighting, pottery, and ceramics, to postcards and jewelry spilled into the streets. Shoppers, mostly tourists identifiable by their cameras, backpacks, and souvenir T-shirts meandered through the stalls and vendors. The Albaicin is intriguing, engaging, and fascinating. You can feel as though you are wandering through a deserted village street one minute, find yourself amidst locals buying fresh fruit and vegetables at a local market square the next, and surrounded by hordes of tourists the next. After exploring the Albaicin, we headed off towards the Rambla and the commercial/ shop- ping area to explore. Along Calle Navas, we discovered small alleys lined with bar/restaurants and beginning to fill with people. Here we saw far more locals than tourists. They social- ized over drinks and tapas, gossiping, talk- ing shop or like us just strolling. Buskers entertained, often bringing the crowd to join in song or dance. It was siesta and along the Rambla most of the shops were closed. A few people window shopped or strolled in the afternoon sun, but compared to Barcelona, the Rambla was nearly deserted. A balloon seller stood at a plaza engulfed in her mass of balloons but no one was buying. Being Semana Santa, the city was preparing for the Holy Wednesday procession. Needing to catch the last bus, we strolled back to our bus stop. The police were beginning to block off streets, and viewing stands were beginning to fill or were cordoned off awaiting the privileged dignitaries who would enjoy the best views. People began to trickle and then to stream towards procession route. On the street, men going to join the procession wore the capriote (anonymous conical hood) and robes of the penitent, and women wore the traditional mantilla and peineta (comb) with dresses ranging from simple black to elaborate drapes and frills. We stopped at a local bar for a beer while we waited for the bus and watched live coverage of the beginning of procession on their TV. It was apparent that had we stayed, the crowds were so thick that we would probably not have seen much except the backs of a lot of heads and the top of the procession statues. As it was we saw the coordination of the many bearers, the "ascension" of the ponderous statue, and the slow procession through the gathered masses, all to an excited commentary that would have done a sports commentator proud.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Beas Granada and the Sierra Nevada from our bus stop Entering the Cuesta de Gomérez leading to the Alhambra Courtyard, the Palacio de Carlos V Looking across to the Albaicin from the Palacio de Carlos V Tapas in the Albaicin Local market atop the Albaicin Public fountain, the Albaicin Calle Calderería (the lower Albaicin) Calle Calderería (the lower Albaicin) Ascending the Albaicion Anothe lunch style in the Albaicin Pentinent and ladies going to join the procession. Street performance - off the Calle Navas