Ruby cursed the hotel receptionist under her breath when he knocked on the door at 5:40am to wake us up in time to get tickets for the Alhambra today. Ruby was so exhausted she tried to make Tony shower with a flashlight. We were out of the room by 6:45am, on the bus at 7am and in line by 7:15am . . and already the line was long. They open at 8am and only sell a few hundred tickets every morning; luckily we squeezed by and got our tickets for the afternoon slot. While waiting in line we met Esmeralda and Rachel, two girls from Denver studying abroad in Barcelona. We all walked down the hill together and since we would all have to be back by 2pm we asked them if they’d like to meet up for lunch at our fave spot
Ruby was ready for a nap and went right back to bed while Tony went to the local skatepark down by the river. Sorry guys, I was too tired to go with Tony and be his personal skate photographer so there are no pics Meeting up with the girls for lunch may have been a good or bad idea. . we don’t know because afterwards we all left Salinas very happy and very tipsy. The new dish we added to our favorites was the vegetable wok which was kind of like vegetable tempura but more flavorful. The free range chicken croquetas were amazing too. We know this sounds super gross but the mango, goat cheese and crunchy bacon salad was just way to playful to pass up—it ended up being really really good.
As for the Alhambra, it takes its name from the Arabic “al-qala ‘at al-hamra” which means red castle. It was built in the 11th Century and is a palace and fortress as well as the only surviving large medieval Islamic palace complex in the world. There are 23 towers and the Alcazaba is a fort inside the Alhambra which is also a fort. We walked the gardens and wish you could smell the blooming roses throughout the Generalife (perfectly manicured gardens). The Dutch artist M.C. Escher visited the Alhambra early in his career (1922 and 1936) and used the repetitive geometric designs as inspiration for some of his work. We loved going inside the Palace of Carlos V and see the temporary M.C. Escher exhibition called Infinite Universes; the best was a video showing how he made some of his artwork.
The architecture of the Alhambra is insane and we couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous colorful geometric designs and intricate carvings seen inside the Palacios Nazaries. We were very disappointed to see that the fountain of 12 lions has been dismantled and is currently being restored. We did see tons of other fountains throughout the rest of the grounds—in fact there were so many that eventually we stopped shooting photos of them! This would be Spain’s equivalent to being “Buddha’d out” (see Thailand). Granada is Spanish for the word pomegranate and on our way out Ruby spotted a beautiful one carved into a fountain; it is also the symbol for the city of Granada. After about 5 hours of walking around we were ready to head down the hill. We listened to the sound of running water along the channels on the side of the road under lush green trees overhead. We thought we’d try another place for dinner tonight since Rachel had recommended a dish called carne con salsa. We found some of that along with hazelnut gelato just down the road from the hotel and went to bed contented.