CHAPTER 5: Granada Part 2

Alcazaba View 03
Jeff and I pre-purchased our Alhambra tickets for 9/18 months before we even left Seattle, and on our first night in Granada we made a point of making a special trip to the designated (and surprisingly-modern) bookstore in the heart of Old Town where we had been instructed to print them.

We were set to go.

Our slotted viewing time for the Palacio Nazaries section of the Alhambra wasn’t until 11:30am. So that morning we both slept in (to 8am… Aulds are early risers – regardless of the time zone apparently) and then slowly pushed the sleep from our eyes before we got ready for the long day ahead.
Airbnb 3
As I looked out the bedroom window, cracked open and with cracking paint, I could hear a baby flock of invisible birds chirping intermittently from within the dark but harmless hollows of the abandoned and decaying building across the narrow walkway; I could hear Jeff’s muffled laughter at a video clip he was watching as he laid on the couch (aka his bed) in the other room; and I could hear the occasional scooter leisurely sweep through the dusty maze we were a part of. As I listened to it all, I considered how fleeting our location was here in the Albayazín and from the towering Alhambra to the north. If our position was reflected in the map of a spiderweb, it’d be smaller than a morning dewdrop.
Airbnb 2
We made our way down Zafra and around the thin Rio Darro to Plaza Nueva. From there we would wind our way up to Puerta de Granadas and continue skyward to the Puerta de la Justicia, the Justice Gate. Our trek upward was a peaceful one; the path was nature-lined, green, and cool. Small, periodic waterfalls appeared and hurried down the slope as if late for meeting Mr. Rabbit. At times like this throughout our trip, it felt like we were the only two. It made me even more grateful of the time of year we had chosen to come here. As we ascended, we listened to the water rushing away, the clicks from our cameras, and our feet crunching the multicolored rocks underfoot.

{Jeff’s photo}IMG_7014
This alternate entrance was half the distance to the Alhambra than the “normal” route, and was only for ticket holders. Because we knew we’d be doing plenty of walking over the course of the next several hours while touring the Moorish palace and gardens, we were relieved to have access to this apparently little-known shortcut. And because we knew our route would allow us to reach the summit quicker, we granted ourselves more time to take photos (and timelapses, let’s be honest) along the way.To Alhambra - 01 Puerta de Carlos V To Alhambra - 02 Puerta de Carlos VTo Alhambra - 03 Justice Gate
After we stopped at the Pilar de Carlos V (1 & 2 above) and passed through the Puerta de la Justicia (above), the trees gave way to ancient clay towers and we soon emerged at the top with the sun beaming down. As we orientated ourselves on the top of this monstrous hill, we found an outlook and absorbed the view through our leaking pores.Alcazaba View 01
Before we began roaming the palace, we figured out where the entrance was for the Palacios was so that we’d know where the line would form rather than drifting around and feeling lost with the risk of missing our scheduled time.

We were starting to figure out this international travel thing out. As much as people back home had told me not to over-plan and over-think, over the course of three weeks we encountered numerous examples of why preparedness is the only way to travel; not doing so would have consistently left us feeling 1) completely flustered, 2) potentially lost, and 3) utterly frustrated. Of course there is no way to plan for every misstep or situation, and you shouldn’t have every moment on a timetable, but doing your best to be one step ahead and smoothing out potential kinks is a sure-fire way to improve your experience and make the most of your trip.

But I digress.Gardens of the Wall Walk 02
Gardens of the Wall Walk 01
We had over an an hour to burn before we would be admitted into the Palacios, so we referenced the Alhambra map we picked up from the bookstore when we printed our tickets. We decided that we would begin our world-wind tour of this enormous fortress in the oldest part: the Alcazaba. Then we would go to the Palacios before venturing to the heavenly Generalife Gardens on the other side of the palace.
Alcazaba View 04
Hi my name is Kelsi and I’m a sucker for aerial views. They make me feel small and insignificant, yet intertwined and connected at the same time. As Jeff and I stood on the edge of the Alcazaba and observed our astounding surroundings from this hoisted view, we took in not only the Albayazín spread out in the distance, but also the twisting brick paths of the citadel below.
Alcazaba View 02Alcazaba View
That is what we were lost in when we first arrived in Granada…

We also stood and spent a good deal of time trying to find our apartment from this lookout. Eventually our patience paid off and we spotted it! At the very tip of Jeff’s finger is Dana’s apartment, complete with light pink sheets hanging from the line. Our apt from Alhambra
After our fun “Where’s Waldo” adventure and roaming through the towers and walkways of the Alcazaba, we returned to Square of the Cisterns where we could quickly people-watch, take in views from the shade, and have a snack before we entered the Palacios.

We took our place in line around quarter past 11. As the line grew longer behind us and shortened before us, we continued to watch the meticulous gardeners, overhear handfuls of languages, and snap photo after photo.
Entrance to Palacios 02
In hindsight, we definitely should have rented an audio guide in order to better appreciate the extensive history and countless details surrounding us on all sides. But instead, I would find myself trailing behind English-speaking tour groups like a very conspicuous shadow.

Once inside the Palacios, we could stay as long as we liked. We spent our time within this dense quarter of the Alhambra doing our best to capture the incalculable details and appreciate the history that expands nearly 800 years.

{Hall of the Two Sisters}
Hall of the Two Sisters 01 Hall of the Two Sistes 02

{Ladies Tower}
Ladies Tower 01Ladies Tower 02Ladies Tower 03

{Lindaraja}Lindaraja 01Lindaraja 02

{Lindaraja Gardens}
Lindaraja Gardens 01 Lindaraja Gardens 02 Lindaraja Gardens 03 Lindaraja Gardens 04

{Patio de los Leones – Court of Lions}
Patio de los Leones - Arches 01 Patio de los Leones - Arches 02 Patio de los Leones - Arches 03 Patio de los Leones - Arches 04 Patio de los Leones - Fountain
— — —

After a couple hours, Jeff and I left the Palacios and started towards the Gardens. Between slow-walking tour groups, recurring photo ops, and the winding paths, it took us quite some time to get there. But once we did, what welcomed us was astounding.Generalife 00

{Generalife Gardens}
Generalife 01 Generalife 02
Generalife 03
Generalife 05
Generalife 06
IMG_4889
Generalife 07

{View from the Gardens}
Generalife View 02
Generalife View 01
Generalife View 03
Generalife View 04

{Patio de la Acequia}
Generalife - Patio de la Acequia 05Generalife - Patio de la Acequia 04Generalife - Patio de la Acequia 03Generalife - Patio de la Acequia 02
— — —
Alhambra View from St Nicolas 01
As we looked out over Granada from the edge of this breathtaking palace and dove into its rich history, I was swan diving and falling deeper in love. This place was mystifying and ancient, and in the most aloof and authentic way. It was intoxicating and I couldn’t get enough. We had only one day left here, and we’d have to make the most of it.
Alhambra View from St Nicolas 02

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