Back at the hotel, I was able to post an earlier piece onto the blog. It works. It works. It works.
Once that was completed, it was time to walk to the starting point of the tour scheduled for 4.30-7pm. There was a small group of 7 of us; 2 German women, a family of 3 Colombians and an excellent guide who had an undergraduate degree, a Masters degree and one year completed of a PhD in Islamic Studies. She walked us up (and I mean up steep uneven stairs) into the old city (known as the Albaicin) and onto Sacromonte (set up by the gypsies in the 16th century just outside the then city wall). Apart from all the interesting facets of these suburbs themselves, we had superb views before and after sun set of the Alhambra where I will spend much of tomorrow (that monumental building on the top of the distant hill). Look closely at the second, third and fourth photos for the glorious snow on the Sierra Nevada in the distance.
Pretty. Hard work living there because of the steepness and the steps (heaven help anyone who wanted a grand piano up there), almost no roads for cars but motor bikes can ‘climb’ or descend some of the stairs.
So many places using Carmen as the first name of the house.The following photo really helps to understand that while some of Granada is in the valley/on the plain, there are lots of hills – and I was on one.We stopped at San Nicolas plaza and waited for the sun to set. Musicians played and sung (and shouldn’t give up their day jobs by my reckoning), others sold trinkets from mats and blankets laid out, and did I smell dope in the air – some locals were having a happy time. Brilliant view, and incredibly pleasant atmosphere.
We had a look at a contemporary mosque moments before it shut for sunset prayer, and we watched the women go into their own entrance for prayer. The ceiling in the entrance foyer was intricate, colourful and impressed me – as an extension of my focus yesterday at the Royal Palace in Seville. I have now learnt they are all based on the idea of stalactites coming down.The evening sky stunned all who watched it.And then we watched the changes on the Alhambra as it was lit for the evening.
You can’t beat a good view!
Into Sacromento we continued. We looked at some of the entrances to the caves which the original inhabitants had turned into houses. Some had cave like appearances and others presented as houses but inside were rooms carved from caves. This is a living operational suburb – with great views and close to town – but those steps. I don’t know.
The home of Flamenco dancing and music was explained and one place where it is performed each night in a cave, was pointed out.
Originally Flamenco was a private family practice associated with Muslims trying to side step conversion to Christianity and going into gypsy cave homes and celebrating events such as marriage- trying to avoid prosecution during the inquisition, etc. In the 19th century Granada’s first ever tour guide persuaded the gypsies to perform for the continental travellers of the time and be paid for it. Since then Flamenco performances have become established tourism fodder.
Back at the guide’s office she showed the Germans and I where to get further vegan food – and the place where I had lunch was her favourite place. I knew I loved it and how fortunate that others have good taste as well! I headed off to the street known as the ‘Tea Street’ because it is renowned for many cafes serving tea Arabic style. I found a place which served a wonderful meal, starting with a thin layer of fresh Hummus sprinkled with paprika and a thick light bread, followed by a plate of couscous and carrots and zucchini cooked to perfection. In the centre was a tangle of caramelised onions and sultanas. All washed down with a green tea with mint by a different name than the one at lunch – this was Muruno.
At the end of the meal I was given a sweet Arabic style pastry. I haven’t eaten it but will take it with me tomorrow on the marathon effort which will be my walk around the Alhambra.I walked the kilometre or so easily back to my hotel without fear. Let’s say today was a 12 to 15 km day and every step worthwhile. I am loving Granada. Everyone should put this city on your wish list!