Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gran-ada, Oh Oh Oh Oh!

View of the Alahmbra from the riverside walk leading from Plaza Nuebe

Spice markets at Granada - just follow your nose!

The Cathedral is built around the relics of St John The apostle, and no expnse has been spared. The whole church is in gold leaf or sterling silver, and contains a number of skulls of other Spanish saints

The Flamenco - fabulous!

The museum is free inside the Alahmbra - and so are a lot of other sights, including original bath houses, gardens and buildings in the complex.

So, because Monday was so successful, and we had a car or two available for only a few more days, the art crew went to Granada, hoping to see the Alahmbra (though the tickets on the internet were sold out). What a place!
We stayed in Hotel Britta, a small old fashioned "pensione" with very basic, but clean accommodation with ensuite - in the best part of the city! Bags were dumped and we went for coffee at the Plaza Nuebe and then strolled - along the river, spying the many arched bridges that span what is really a trickle, with lushly overgrown vegetation along its banks; smelling the jasmine in flower, walking under the wisteria and the shadow of the big A. Side streets promised later, vertical journeys of many corners and quaint "bag and paint" buildings, overflowing with geraniums or cactus in blue china planter boxes inside elaborate black metal window grills.
Well, what do artists do when they "tour" a city??? They wander down every alleyway they can find...and so we did, And we found the Latin quarter and the best views over Granada, a city of at least four major cathedrals all able to be seen from one viewpoint. We wound through the sooks where, as far as I could tell, everything each shop sold was the same. We smelt the Shishah/hooka and poked our heads into Moroccan designed and decorated establishments. We found where the university students hang out (with numerous tattoos) and the best Sangria we have had. We stumbled upon the cathedral of St Juan the apostle, an amazing concoction of gold Spanish devotion the denies adequate verbal description but, certainly, nothing else in the way of decoration. The height of Mannerist Baroque on speed!

Dazed from this experience, we returned to the hotel for a quick change of clothes and multiple changes of mind about where we should eat (a group of 8 individualist artists is hard to please!), ate paella (some of us, anyway), drank more Sangria (ordinary), went to another bar at the time all the locals were actually eating (11pm plus), drank more Sangria (very nice) and wandered off to a small, cave-like establishment to marvel at excellent Flamenco guitar playing, singing and even better dancing. I was so excited by the show I couldn't sleep afterwards (well, that may have been the noise from the Plaza below our window). It is so astounding how fast the Dancer's feet move - she was also beautiful (as was pointed out many times by our Portuguese poet) and the music was mournful, her movements at times fast and strong, but always, such a passionate spectacle. I am now a huge fan!

We were told we needed to be on line outside the Alahmbra by 7am at the latest to have a chance of buying the few reserved tickets for gate sales, and after a late night (Flamenco starts at 11:30 pm) and knowing that I have tickets booked later in May, the volunteers to climb the mountain and spend at least 1.5 hours queueing were few and far between, though, in the end, some sleepless artists walked the hill - and queued in the wrong line! No tickets, but a great breakfast and a walk up the hill revived spirits and we saw all there was to see of the Alahmbra that was free - and that was a lot! The gardens are a lovely respite to the town (no greenery) and the Museo was free and a gorgeous building. A nice beer in Hotel America (NY was with us and maybe missing home) and a bus ride to Albacin and the Plaza we had discovered the previous day, produced a wonderful Plat de Dia and some satisfied artists.
We made the rondezvous and headed back amongst some of the most spectacular mountainous scenery there is on planet earth (including the snow capped Sierra Navadas). A great interlude!

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